It's Easier Not To Know
My car pulled in Our Lady of Perpetual Hope and Care Nursing home parking lot. I found a parking spot that allowed me not to use the whole list of curses I kept ready on my tougue. The lot was full of obtuse parking angles and providence like this was mighty unusual. I was never this lucky to find a parking spot with ease Something was wrong. I could feel it. The feeling of foreboding spread me as soon as I slid the car into PARK. I was there to visit my mother and my drama quotient radar was on high. Something was going on. My mother wasn't parked in front of the floor to ceiling sunny windows.
It should have been a good day. The sun was shining and I had just scored the shopping coup of the year. I had found fashionable, comfortable shoes for my mother.' Shoes that s that would accomodate her swelling feet. At the Avenue store I bought one pair biege, one pair silver with a snazzy racing stripe up the center. I would even wear these shoes! I had searched two years for shoes like these. Until an epiphany hit me, Bam! Plus sized women might wear plus sized shoes-Wide Width Heaven. Then I had even found a little Asian sock shop that sold diabetic socks 3 pairs for five dollars. Five dollars cheaper than the chain stores. I should be in shopper hunter/gatherer, bliss.
The sign in desk had a security guard who greeted me with a question.
"You're Mrs. Lewis's daughter aren't you?
What do you mean am I Mrs Lewis's daughter I thought? I had been coming here nearly everyday for two years and you speak to me inquiring, after my mother's health at least four times a week. What's up with this line of questioning? There was something in his tone that smelled like trouble. He proposely flicked the sign in pen off the log book and it fell on to the hidden security desk behind the sign in counter. The pen rolled across several rolls of laminated polaroid pictures and spun to a stop on the picture of my mother. Under the photos was a Yellow Post It note that read America's Most Wanted in red magic marker with a smiley face underneath. I grew close enough to a hear a conspiratoral whisper. What had she done now. What ever it was I knew it would violate several HIPPA laws for him to tell me.
The security guard retrieved the pen began to speak and then suddenly changed gears mid sentence.
"Sign in, please" he said simply indicating trouble with his eyes was approaching us both.
" Oh there you are said the social worker. Then you did it my message." Her too sweet voice irritating my ear drums as she put her hand up onto my shoulder in a pinching grip.
No, I didn't.
"Well" she continued. "I called your home phone and cell phone"i left a message at your job. I guess you must have been out shopping with a slight sneer in her voice. "Let's go into my office where we can chat."
I followed behind her, her clickety clacking kitten heels across the shiny tile floor . The heels were banging out a tune I would have to dance to long enough to find out what was going on with my mother. We rounded the bend into her office. Her named emblazed in a brass plaque on the door. The office was decorated in a mauve on mauve color scheme . I HATE MAUVE! It is just renamed dirty pink. It makes me nauseated when I am around it too long. This was going to be worse than I thought.
The social worker Joyce smoothed her tight pencil thin skirt for effect, looked up and down at my chunky weary body and then perched lightly on her desk.
I thought .What has mom done now.
"Since the sisters are in chapel now, I guess I must speak to you" she continued. I tried to reach your father and after several calls he still can't reached and he hasn't returned any of my calls.
We have been forced to put your mother on security alert.
You mean The America's Most Wanted Wall Security Alert?
She ignored my comment and continued .
Your mother was found out near the edge of the parking lot with out a coat. She says she was going home .Screaming and crying She was upset. She apparently got loose from her floor and managed to wheel chair her way out of the building. Might I remind you , it was thirty seven degrees last night,
"My mom doesn't remember how to operate an elevator. How did she do that"? I queried.
"Well apparently she does she snapped . I hope you will use this visit to impress on your mother our rules are for her safety".
"What was she doing out there ",I asked.
She was going after your father she said simply. Apparently, he visited her with a female friend last night and that upset her.
"A female friend?I asked. Who"
We here at Perpetual hope and Care value our residents and would like them to think of this as their home. But they can' t just wander off with out telling us. Apparently, your mother is recuperating faster from her stroke than anyone had anticipated. She used the elevator without assistance and said she was going home to talk to your father.
"Who" I said again.
We don't monitor our residents guests unless the pose a security issue. I believe someone must monitor the guests so they don't pose a security issue. She arched her too prefect eyebrow. I hope you will speak to your father about such visitors. When you get an opportunity to find him. We just want your mother calm and happy while she's here with us.
Who, I said
" Well I am sure you want to visit with your mother and share those lovely shoes you were out shopping for all day for", dismissing my question again. I left the mauve on mauve office feeling nauseated and anxious and hurried to the elevator.The doors closed and one of the nursing attendants I knew asked me
"Are you going to see your mom"picking the fourth floor?.
I nodded, Looking around to make sure no one was there she said you know they found her in the parking lot last night with out a coat. She said she was going to catch the bus. She sniggered" she was going after her man." You can't keep a good woman down. The door opened and she stepped off out to the left .
Mom wasn't by the sunny windows near the elevators( her favorite spot). she was stationed at nurses station. The nurse waved to me as I grabbed the back of her wheel chair and kissed her on the cheek.
"You'll make sure she doesn't wander off'. "Right " the nurse added.
Hi Mom, I said Let me take you some where where we can talk.
"Where's my husband," she said?.
"I don't even get a hello", I asked?.
Hello, she said. and smiled
"Mom what were you doing outside last night."
" I didn't go outside last night"she said
Look at this jewelry they gave me to wear holding her arm . Every time I go near the elevator it rings. It's damn annoying. They gave everybody one.
"Mom it's a Security Bracelet".I replied
"What does that mean"?mom said
They want to know where you are. I answered.
I'm right here, she said can't they see me.
"Mom they've got your picture down stairs . Oh yeah they did take my picture today. They showed to me but I didn't like it much.I need to dye my hair It's this funny color gray.ou got a mirror?
"Mom,what were you doing outside last night? I asked again.
This time she thought awhile "I was going to talk to your father .
Mom, you can't be wandering off I said.
"I wasn't wandering off". I was going to talk to him. He can't bring that floozy up here.'
'What floozy, I said.
'SHE thinks she's fooling somebody well SHE ain't fooling me . She better stay away from my husband.
Mom maybe you were mistaken. Maybe she one of his church members.
She ain't no churchmember, choir member or bible study member- SHE'S A WHORE! she said so loudly that the nearby napping residents stirred and looked up.
Whoa, Whoa, Whoa I said shocked at my mother's tone.
I'll beat her up she said if she touches my husband again.
Mom, you can't be outside at night alone with out a coat"I said simply.
"I want to go home there's stuff I have to do there".
"Like beat up people ,I said "This remark made her cackle and howl.
How were you going to get there (home) I asked.
"I was going to catch the bus.'
Mom you don't have any money and you're in a wheel -chair I countered.
"Oh they make everybody in here ride around in with one of these". Don't you see she said waving her hand around the common room. Everybody has one. Just like I I told you they make every body wear this loud jewelry too.
" Mom it's not jewelry it a security bracelet. they got your picture up on a the America's Most Wanted Poster near the door.
" Like a fugitive, she said. She laughed.
Yeah, I said
I want to talk to my husband. He's always had a girl problem.
Mom you can't be going outside at night with out a coat in the cold. you'll got everyone upset.
I 'm down but I'm not out . I meant to get them upset she said, he shouldn't have brought that hussie up here.
Mom, she probably was one of his church members . Besides they had pulled off by the time you got down stairs what were you going to do if you caught them.?
"Never you mind about that', she snapped.
They already got your face on a wanted poster down stairs . Whatare you going to do next have them call the police cause you killed too people in the parking lot?
Besides I said you used to believe all the nursing attendants were lesbians because they wanted to help you off with your clothes.
She laughed and I laughed. I 'm better now. Some of them are lesbians. But Maybe I was mistaken she said . More to protect me than protect herself.
Mom promise me you won't go out again I said.
Okay, she said "just for you"
Dinner was called and I took that time to go. In the car, I felt the weight of the world as I dialed the church office. The church secretary answered and handed the phone off to him. Have you been up to the nursing home I said.
No he replied. not since last night. They called and said your mother tried to leave last night.
Do you know why I said.
They said she thought a sister from the church and I was having and affair. he laughed.
His laughter was a little too forced and a little to thin.
Imagine that he continued After 60 years of marriage. Well, you know after the stroke her thinking isn't to clear. Is she alright? I can't come there until tomorrow. I'm a little busy right now.
I didn't hear anything after that . I just held the phone and mumbled good bye at the correct time. But I knew my mother was right. The evening closed around me as I watched the cell phone dim and tears dropped from my eyes.