I bundled Mark up yesterday, making sure he had his scarf on, his gloves on along with his hat, and we went out to Tinley Park to visit Mom. Yes, it is fucking cold here in Chicago. Yes, the wind cuts through me like a knife and the icy grip of winter is trying its best to do me in. I will not have it. No, I have made up my mind that warm breezes and sunny skies are no substitute for family and friends. So here I am, along with Mark screaming and kicking, in the cold Chicago winter. I don't care. I get to visit my mom once a week, something I have missed for very many years. Not just Mom, but other family members and my old friends. Being near them is so much more fulfilling than walking my dogs around the block in shorts and a tee shirt. I don't miss Florida at all... Okay, maybe the shorts and tee shirts in December a little bit.
We get to Mom's house just after noon. I have brought Mom her favorite food. Ribs from Mickey's on Oak Park Avenue. Mom is stretched out on the sofa with her eyes closed, the television blasting and the thermostat turned up to eighty two degrees.
"Ma!" No response. At ninety four years old, nearly ninety five, I get a wee bit nervous.
"Ma, hello, Ma, are you awake?" Her eyes remain closed. Oh fuck. I do not want to be the one here when... Just then her eyes flutter open. Thank god.
"Oh, Alan... I was resting my eyes."
"Hi Mom. I have lunch for you. Ribs and French fries from Mickey's."
"Oh, okay... "
Mom drags herself up from the couch and plops herself into the Hoveround. Without any notice she zooms away and down the hall towards her bedroom. Fine, I figure she's going to the bathroom before lunch, or maybe putting on some makeup. Mom hates to look bad for visitors. Meanwhile Mark and I sit at the kitchen table and eat our ribs while waiting for Mom. I've learned not to hold up our lunch when Mom zips off like that. After about twenty minutes I go back to Mom's bedroom looking for her and call in there, "Ma, everything okay?"
"Waa.. I.. I'm... "
"Are you okay? Do you need some help?" I say, dreading that she might say yes and I might have to go into the bathroom and see my mother 'indisposed'.
"I'm... (undecipherable) .. I'll be out in a few minutes."
So I go back to the kitchen and finish my lunch along with Mark. Another ten minutes go by.
"Alan, maybe you should go check on your mom again."
So once again I go down the long hall, back to my mom's bedroom and shout out to her, "Everything okay in there?" This time I step into the room a little bit so that I can hear her better. Mom is in her bathroom, the lights are on and her Hoveround is halfway in the doorway.
"I... yes... "
"Are you sure? Do you need any help?"
"No... I'll be out in a minute. I have to straighten up the bathroom before Maria gets here."