Thursday, January 14, 2010

Mending a crack

My mom is tough. It is one of the characteristics that make her great. She has a huge heart. And she’s not going to take your bullshit. Or get intimidated by a situation. Or be anything, quite frankly, than a badass.

I’m not sure that I ever wrote about what she did on the night Aunt Marie had her leg amputated. Her surgeon kept pushing back her surgery. Later and later and later. He didn’t give a timeframe. He just pushed it back. Extended her mental anguish.

So my mom – an advanced practice nurse – got up in his shit. This surgeon, who thinks that he is God, has this patient’s sister in his face. Refusing to let him treat her sister poorly. My mom knows right from wrong. She isn’t one to stand by and watch if she is witnessing a wrong.

My mom doesn’t crack. She’s good under pressure. If a surgeon had been treating Meg badly? I would have been frustrated. I would have been scared. And I would have cried. Perhaps not in front of Meg. But I would’ve cried. I would have felt helpless.

It isn’t that my mom doesn’t have feelings. It isn’t that she is not vulnerable. But she does a pretty good job of keeping that part of her under wraps. Her shell is hard.

Last Friday, her shell cracked. I came home to my dad, in the driveway, calling for Ellie. The dog had gotten out on my mom. We found her shortly thereafter. It wasn’t a big deal. My mom returned to the house, sobbing.

“I can’t even keep the dogs safe,” she wailed. It was almost comical, seeing my mom in such a state. It is so rare that she is so emotional. My dad and I did what we could to calm her down but, clearly, she wasn’t in a great place. I expected her to cancel her dinner plans, put on her pajamas and go to sleep. But she pulled herself together. A short time later, we went over to Grandma and Grandpa’s for dinner.
The instant my mom saw her mom, she was a mess all over again. “I lost Ellie,” she cried. “I lost Ellie. I can’t even keep the dogs safe. Ever since Marie died, I feel like I can’t even think. I can’t do ANYTHING. How am I supposed to do my job if I can’t think, Mom?! And Meg has to have surgery on her shoulder and WHAT IF SHE DIES JUST LIKE HER GRANDFATHER.”

“Oh, honey,” my grandma sighed. She patted her back and held her. “It’s all going to be okay. You’re just fine, honey. There is nothing wrong with you.”

My mom cried for a few minutes more. I stood by, helplessly, awkwardly. Worrying. My grandma, my teeny tiny grandma, held her tightly.

And then she was okay. Just like magic.

I think that’s all you need, sometimes. A hug from your mom and a shoulder to cry on and an assurance that you’re not as crazy as you think.

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