She decided to make it a reading day. She didn’t feel like doing anything, and the weather was cold and dark and blustery. She had a headache from a combination of congestion and dry air and her mood was crappy which she blamed on the lingering effects of divorce and self-loathing and her dead-end job that did little but frustrate her. A Saturday to just collapse back into a hidden corner under a blanket.
Then her mother called.
She knew if she ignored it a) her mother might really be sick and needing a doctor, which sometimes she was, and b) her mother would keep calling every fifteen minutes. She picked up and her mother said, “When you go out … “
‘When’ you go out, she thought, because her mother couldn’t conceive of not going out, of having a ‘reading day’ spent entirely with her butt glued in one two-foot square of furniture, of wallowing in hours of self-pity and melancholy. No. That was outside her busy-body mother’s conception of proper conduct.
“ … would you please pick up my prescription.” There was no lilt of a question at the end of that sentence. Of course, picking it up also meant bringing it over and staying for god knew how long, which was, after all, the point.
No use fighting it. She put the book aside and pulled on a sweater, inside out as her mother would point out later, and tied her hair back then hid her head almost entirely under a stocking hat. She had to scrape frost off her windshield after which her fingers were frozen as bad as her mood. Parking a quarter mile away from the pharmacy she pulled her coat tighter around her neck to forestall the wind if only a little as she trekked into the building, where she then stood in a slow line. The pharmacist informed her the prescription her mother needed was out of refills. She called her mother. Her mother said she’d call the doctor’s office, and to wait there while the doctor’s office called the pharmacy. That took more than an hour. She wandered around the store thinking the worst of other patrons if not actually snarling at them. Once the ‘script was in her hands she returned to her car to find a prominent scratch on the door; no idea how long it’d been there. ‘Just great’, she thought, cursing as she navigated through the traffic towards her mom’s, imagining another hour-plus wasted sitting on an uncomfortable chair in that weird smelling little apartment listening to her mother rag on about almost everything. A song she liked came on the radio. Music.
And then there was a blinding light.
She awoke the same morning with no recollection of discontent. She had a bit of a headache, but a hot shower and a cup of coffee soon took care of that. It was cold and dark and blustery, but she lit a couple candles and put on some music. Music, seeming to lighten every dark corner. She revealed with a feeling of freedom. She thought what a good day it would be to curl up and read her new novel, but just then her sweet mother phoned with her need for a prescription waiting at the pharmacy and she gladly offered to pick it up. She dressed warmly in her favorite sweater, inside out as she liked to wear it, and pulled on a colorful, fluffy stocking hat. There was a line at the pharmacy, and she was able to use the time to catch up on her Twitter feed. Turned out the ‘script needed confirmation from her mom’s doctor, but she took care of that with a quick phone call. That gave her time to investigate the shelves; she rarely got time to truly explore all the different products and the miraculous variety of ‘stuff’ available for the taking, all manner of distractions and conveniences she could play with if she’d a mind. She found some things for herself and had a number of pleasant conversations with store workers and other patrons including friends she rarely got to visit with. ‘Script finally in hand she climbed back into the scratched car she thought of as her old guardian and cruised to her mom’s, letting herself in with her keycode so her mom wouldn’t have to come to the door. She found her there in her chair, practically the only chair she found comfortable anymore.
She said to her mom, “You’re hurting today, aren’t you?”
Her mom said in her soft voice, “Yes, I’m afraid so, dear. Thank you for getting my medicine.”
She shook out the right dosage and gently rubbed her mom’s frail neck. Her mom closed her eyes and sighed as she gently kneaded the knots in the neck and shoulders. “Shall I make us some coffee?” She knew her mom hadn’t been able to this day.
“Oh, yes, that would be lovely.”
Her mom’s coffee maker barely worked anymore, but she knew some tricks to jar it to life. “I’m buying you a new coffee maker as soon as I have some coin,” she said.
“Thank you, dear, you don’t need to spend your money on me,” but she would do it anyway. She prepared a cup for each of them, then sat in a chair next to her, holding her hand. The human touch seemed to brighten her. She would be her mom’s only visitor today, alone for a decade now since daddy passed, and now the other kids living so far away.
“Why don’t I stay for a while. Tell me what you’ve been reading and watching since I saw you yesterday.”
“Oh, you don’t have to, dear,” her mom said, but she smiled weakly and her eyes were moist. “I know you have your own life. But I love you. It’s your decision.”
All my life I have had to learn to do things differently. To see the world differently.