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Wednesday, 20 May 2009

I Yelled At You Today

By Pat Tomlinson

I yelled at you today. I had gone to the kitchen to start dinner.

What was I, twelve feet away? And you started, “Where are you, where are you?”

“I’m right here in the kitchen,” I answered angrily.

“Oh,” you replied with a sigh of relief.

I yelled at you today. This time I was in the bathroom.

“Where’d ya’ go? Pat, Pat,” You called my name over and over.

“I’m in the bathroom,” I shouted at the top of my voice, knowing full well you couldn’t hear me, certain the neighbors could.

I yelled at you today. You poured apple juice on top of your pasta. God, what a mess.

I yelled at you today. You spit out your medicine. You’ve never done that before.

I yelled at you today. You could see our car from the living room window and kept hinting for a ride. When I tried to explain that we had already been out, you look at me as if I were gaslighting you. I hate when you think I’m lying to you. Even though I know you can’t help it, I hate it.

I yelled at you today. I had just finished dressing you for daycare and left to answer the phone. When I got back, you had your nightgown back on and were wearing my over-sized walking shoes. If that wasn’t enough, when we were finally ready, as I zipped up your coat you announced, “I have to pee.”

At last, we were almost out the door. I put your favorite red hat on you. As I pulled it down over your ears, you smiled. “Thank you, Mama,” you said and then instantly realized your mistake. You covered your mouth with your hand, your eyes wide with surprise, “That’s what’s happening, isn’t it?” you asked.

“Yes, I answered. “And it’s okay, it’s okay” I repeated, trying to reassure us both.

But if it’s okay, why can’t I simply take the time to tell you I’m leaving the room and I’ll be right back? Why yell when you make a mess at mealtime ? I have to clean it up anyway. There are times when I can hardly get my own vitamins down, why do I always expect you to be able to swallow yours?

Tonight as I tucked you in bed, we sang your favorite lullabies together. I think you enjoy this part of the day best. “I love you,” I said and kissed you good night.

“I love you, too. How is it we’re together” you asked.

“Well, to begin with, you’re my mother.”

“Oh,” you said, surprised, “Isn’t that lovely?”

“It depends on how you look at it,” I said and you laughed. I thanked God you still had a sense of humor. “I’m sorry I yelled at you today,” I apologized.

“You did?”you asked. But tonight that confused look was missing; instinctively I could tell you did remember.

“So, you’re letting me off the hook,” I said with relief. You reached up and moved the hair from my forehead.

“It’s okay, Honey, it’s hard,” and then you took the corner of your top sheet and wiped the tears from my eyes.

I didn’t yell at you today. In fact, I haven’t yelled at you all week. I’m finally taking the doctors’ advice and the advice of family and friends as well. We won’t be living together anymore. The guilt and grief is so overwhelming. I can hardly think straight. I’m tired, Mom, so very tired. After our ritual of nightly lullabies, I laid my head on your chest and sobbed like a baby. You cradled me in your arms and I knew you understood. Instantly, I began missing you more than I thought possible.

I visit you almost every day. Sometimes you remember my name, sometimes not. But you’re always excited to see me. Today as I approached the dining room, your eyes were wandering, allowing me to sneak in and sit across the table from you. I waited for you to notice my presence. When you finally did, you smiled and asked “Say, aren’t you important to me?”

I got up from my chair and walked over to you. “I sure hope so,” I said. After kissing you on top of your head, I added “because, God knows, you’re important to me.”

A year has passed; you’ve become weak and bedridden. Time for you is only a matter of days. The waiting is difficult. My two sisters and I are with you day and night. Today your favorite aides wait with us. I hold your hand and for the last time sing your favorite lullabies. “I’ll be all right,” I promise. “You can go now.”

Your eyes close. Within minutes your breathing stops. The head nurse listens for a heartbeat. There is none. One of the aides walks over to the window. “We must free her spirit,” she tells us, and, as is custom, opens it. Goodbye, Mommy.

During our last few years together, I learned so much about you, so much about myself. Thank you, Mom, it was a pleasure.

It was an honor.

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post

Comments

oh wow.
speechless

You've made me cry and remember how hard it was with my own mother. Thank you for honoring the experience you lived by sharing it beautifully.

Thank goodness I'm sitting in my office alone at work because the tears are flowing. I was actually thinking of my own mother while driving today. The sadness and hurt never leave completely.
Thank you for sharing.

Not only is the story compelling and poignant, your style of writing is too!

Yes, you yelled at her today, but
what you were really yelling was ,"I love you, Mom."

How beautiful and painful. I wish everyone could read this.

Pat - What a beautiful and moving piece! I am envious of your terrific use of dialog to tell the story and create powerful images. I especially liked - "("It's okay, Honey, it's hard," and then you took the corner of your top sheet and wiped the tears from my eyes.)"
Sandy

Pat, what a beautiful piece and so beautifully written.

I hardly know whether to comment on your pain and loss, your powerful writing ability, or the tears in my eyes.

This should be compulsory reading for schools instead of some of the items on the list.

Very well told, thank you Pat.

Thank you for sharing this story. I try to relate to my friends the experience of caring for my mother in her last years but I could never get it right. How horrendously difficult it was and how infinitely wonderful at the same time...well, you described it perfectly. Thank you for helping me remember this most special and poignant time of my life in such a beautiful manner. I know what you mean when you say, "It was an honor".

I can only add that I share the words written in the previous comments.

It is bittersweet,but lovingly told.

Pat, I am so proud of you and glad to see how many people agree with me about your wonderful writing ability.

Pat: Delighted to read your marelous piece on this web site. Norma

Wonderful Pat! It's heart to heart - just like it was when I first saw a few verses on scraps of paper. Beautiful writing. It catches you and brings you right in to all the feelings.

Pat, A powerfully written story with such a strong voice. It was compelling and left me in tears. You told it from the heart with such honesty. Thank you.

This is truly a wonderful piece of writing. And it's so perfectly true. My mom and I went through that, too.

Beautifully written and very moving. Thank you for sharing this very personal story.

A heart touching experience told with heart touching TRUTH. My eyes filled as I recalled the first time I "yelled" at my beloved and the shame I felt. Bless you and all who care and those that need caring.

I am a nurse at a gerectric Facility.
I experience this daily with families.
You put it so beautifully.
Can't wait to share this.
It is comforting to others to know they are not walking alone through this.

Thank you for sharing the trails and tribulations of your life with your mother, as well as the difficulty of making a sensible decision. I loved how you wrote your story.

Thank you so much for this lovely story. I have only just found this site and yours was the first piece I read. I've thought about it today, many times.

As I read the story, all I could think of was the fact that I had the experience with my Dad. He was my hero and I was with him at the end. You said it all, painful and wonderful memories can be felt.

I am sorry that I missed this the first time around. Very powerful.

Mom is precious to me. We hang out and go for long drives, reminiscing about our past, paths not taken, and anything else we have seen, heard or read. I pray she lives past 100. Your story made me cry, just thinking of life without her. Great piece of writing.

Beautiful, touching and powerful.

This would be just great read on National Public Radio, on "All Things Considered"

Hello everyone,
Probably, like many of you, I come here to read not only the current, but the older posts. I just wrote "A Wink for Patty" which is too long to post here, but I thought I'd read what one of our fellow writers with the common name may have written.

This piece and the chain of comments gripped my spirit. I'm now off to visit my sister who is caring for our 94 year old mother. It's a chore, but when she and I were born, she weighed 11 pounds and I over 10. That must have been a chore also.

Here's winking at you Pat. ;-)

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