The Warrior

My mother, when I was a kid, was a warrior. All of the women in my family are. She would go to war with anyone who dared to get in her way or threaten her family. She went to battle nearly every day, and she usually won.

She’s been married three times. Each husband more useless than the previous version.

Her first husband treated her like a doormat and cheated on her with every woman who batted her eyes at him. They were young and pressured into getting married by their parents and society because they were “living in sin”. After they were been married a couple of years, she got pregnant and they had my half-sister. Once my sister here though, my mom could have cared less about what her husband did. A few years after my sister was born, they split and my mom was alone.

A couple of years later, she married again. This time it was to a man who was a merchant marine. In the time that they had been married, they spent two months together as husband and wife. One time, after deployment, he came home and tried to beat on her. Saying that she was cheating on him and just being nasty to her. She fought back and kicked his ass out. When she divorced him, the judge asked her if their was anything she wanted. She said “Just my name.”

By the time my mom met my dad, it was a few years after the divorce. She was still tough, but life had started to knock her around. My dad wasn’t a good husband. Anything go wrong and he would go on drinking binges with his brothers and uncles and disappear for days or weeks. He had trouble holding down a steady job because of the drinking.

She had two miscarriages before getting pregnant with me at the age of 35. I was born with a cleft palate (my dad had one as well). A strained marriage started to crumble. My little brother was added to the family when she was 37. My brother was born with Cerebral Palsy (it only affected some of his motor skills and he has a lazy eye). That drove a nail into an already weak marriage and my dad finally took off when I was four.

As she’s gotten older, years of food abuse and smoking have started to take their toll. Worn her down physically and mentally. Arthritis, bursitis, glaucoma, migraines, congestive heart failure, hardening of the arteries, kidney failure, diabetes, and dementia.

Her medications are like a laundry list. She takes them all just to keep moving.

Now I’m having to help take care of her. Making sure she eats. Takes her medication. Doesn’t go out driving. Doesn’t slip in the shower. If she has an accident in the bathroom, can I get to her in time. Hoping I don’t get a call at work in the middle of my day telling me something had gone wrong.

After getting off work one day, I got home to and greeted her like normal. I didn’t hear her response, so I repeated my greeting. Still not hearing a response, I went and stood next to her. She was sitting at the kitchen table, eating dinner.

What I saw frightened me so deeply that I was still shaken the next day. my mother was slumped over in her chair. Food in her mouth, partially chewed. I called her name. Her eyes were glassy and I got a grunt in response.

I yelled for my aunt. She came in and looked at my mom. She told me that my mom had taken her blood sugar before my aunt left to come pick me up from work. My mom was going to make herself some dinner and my aunt left. Somewhere in those 8 minutes, her blood sugar had dropped dramatically.

So we kept calling her. We tried getting liquid glucose into her to no avail. He sugar level was still in the 30 range (she was usually 110 to 150.). She just wouldn’t come back. The glucose wasn’t helping. My aunt had to take her blood sugar level because I couldn’t do it.

I was so frightened, it felt like a gigantic beast was on my back, riding me.

We finally called the paramedics after 10 minutes or so. They came and got her blood sugar up and steady. They then transported her to the hospital, with my aunt and I in the car behind her, all the way to the hospital.

It’s been a few years since that happened.  It still frightens me. Now there is a new problem. It’s not my mom. It’s me.

I sometimes wonder what it would be like for her to be gone. Not dead so much, though I do think about that. Just not living with us anymore. Like on a trip.

When I think about this, I feel guilty. I shouldn’t want that. Think about it. I feel bad for wanting her to be dead so I didn’t have to take care of her anymore. My aunt does what she can, but she gets frustrated with mom so easily. Then she starts yelling at her and I feel powerless to stop it.

I also think about the funeral sometimes. What I would say. Maybe I wouldn’t talk. Just sit and be an emotional mess. Then I feel really guilty about thinking that.

I wish that my brother and sister were more help. I understand that their not going though . It’s complicated. My sister can’t and my brother won’t.

So I deal. With the medication. The constant questions. The shit on the floor. The constant questions. Feeling inadequate. The constant questions. Making sure she has enough to eat. The constant questions.

I’m sitting here, trying to muster the tears that I know need to be shed. They won’t come. I just can’t do it. I’m trying to find the courage to not flee in the night. I may have found that.


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