Monday, June 07, 2004


Back to reality today. We dropped Mom at the airport, grabbed a quick breakfast at the deli near my office (where we were chatted up by a family from Richmond, VA who were off a cruise ship) and then I went back to work. Boyfriend had taken a break from work to accompany us to the airport, and I was really glad he did.

My mother had requested wheelchair assistance for every leg of her trip. She has glaucoma and her eyesight is quite bad. When she checked in at the ticket counter this morning, the counter agent told her she'd have to check her (carry-on) bag. This did not go over well with my mother who detests having anyone touch her things. The counter agent kept explaining (rather patiently) that it was against airline regulations to allow her to keep her bag since she'd be in a wheelchair and unable to pull it herself. Mom kept insisting that the (same) airline had allowed her to carry on her bag every leg of her outbound trip--that whoever was assisting her would just put her bag between her legs on the foot rests of the wheelchair. They went back and forth over this issue several times, with my mother growing more and more agitated. Before I even realized what I was doing, I had grabbed a pinch of fabric on my boyfriend's shorts (not the underwear kind!) with two fingers. Somehow that sneaky move helped me maintain my calm. And, per usual, Mom got her way. The counter agent finished checking her in and then went to a room behind the counter to get a wheelchair. She wheeled it to where my mother was standing, seated her and told her Sidney would be with her shortly to take her through Customs.

Mom wanted to use the restroom, which was very near the counter where she'd checked in. But she was also a bit fearful that if she left the immediate area for even a moment, she might miss Sidney. I assured her that the boyfriend would stand with the wheelchair while I walked her into the ladies' room, and that he'd keep an eye peeled for the S-man. We were only in the bathroom for a minute or two. We seated her back in the wheelchair and got her situated with all of her stuff (there was more than just the carry-on bag).

As the boyfriend was wheeling her away from the restroom, he asked if she'd like to visit the snack bar since she was very early for her flight. Mom said she feared that she might miss Sidney. Boyfriend sort of laughed in a snorting way and said, "I wouldn't hold my breath waitin' on Sidney...he's probably in the back somewhere smokin' a joint..." I whipped around and hissed, "Don't tell her that!" Sheesh, she was agitated enough--I didn't want her thinking some pothead was going to be pushing her around for the next hour (although based on our experience here, it was a real possibility). We "parked" in front of the Customs entrance and began to fill out her Customs form. Sidney showed up moments later, and he was about as far from a pothead as one might imagine; he looked like he might spend his Sundays being a deacon in his church.

We told Mom goodbye once Sidney was on the scene. He took charge and made her feel at ease right away. Mom got very teary as we were telling her goodbye, which of course made me teary. Walking back to the car, the boyfriend put his arm around me and asked if I was okay, and I lost it. It was all just too much in a short period of time. For the first time, the focus of spending time with my mother has shifted from us just hanging out and doing stuff, to us hanging out and me doing stuff for her. And to cap it off, my father called last night with some very upsetting news. He's scheduled for a CAT scan and biopsy tomorrow and we're trying hard to imagine the best.

So as we were walking through the parking lot and the boyfriend wrapped me into the tightest one-armed hug he could manage while still walking, I suddenly felt like letting go. It hit me hard that we've officially entered that era where the word "parents" conjures up not carefree times, but caretaking needs. I was blubbering and blowing my nose as we went through the parking lot gate and then it hit me: the image of Sidney in a back room of the airport smokin' a fatty...and I laughed. Hard.


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