When my brother first suggested I see her, I knew his implication that the situation was “dire” was untrue. Otherwise, he’d be hopping into town in a flash to rush to her bedside. Instead, he was waiting two weeks. Meanwhile, the whole Boston Marathon 2013 bombing incident here in Watertown happened and was over. For a stunning bunch of hours, I got to be, in my own way, famous only because I lived here in this town, that is, I got to show off on Facebook, then, suddenly, I wasn’t.
Not only that, but I’m sick and tired of rah rahing the cops and people in uniform and want to leave this place real bad. It’s a little different when you live here, that is, when folks look down on you all the time, and if you live in low income housing yourself you know “that look” people give you that I’m talking about. Franklin Street over there, that whole area, that’s not low-income housing projects like here. So crap, man.
So given all that, I was expecting I’d be driven over to my mom’s, and I expected the whole day to go differently. And I’ll bet my brother did as well. Now I’ll bet he expected my other brother, the middle boy, to show up and my other brother flaked out. I’ll betcha. All this behind my back. So the youngest, in desperation, decided to do it all another way. He phoned me in the morning. I was in bed, sleeping in, trying real hard to make up for the fact that I’d stayed up way to late last night. He said he was calling me at 1. I said fine, and went back to sleep.
Or tried to sleep as much as I could, then got up. By some miracle, my hot water was working. Often, it doesn’t work well enough to take a shower or wash dishes. It’s like tepid or barely there or completely cold. Last night, the water was so hot, I’d say it was the only time all week it was really the way it should be, and I told myself I’d better shower then, but I didn’t, and I was cursing myself telling myself that in the morning I was going to be out of luck. In this building, it’s kinda hit or miss. I’m telling ya, I gotta move.
Anyway, I showered, and got myself all clean. Walked the dog and stuff and got her fed and her teeth brushed and my brother calls and says, “I’m bringing Mom over to your place.”
My place. Oh great.
“Don’t worry, she can’t hear a thing.”
Well gee, that’s a good thing. Cuz the carbon monoxide detectors are all going off all the time. The Housing Authority never bothered to replace the batteries in these things. They are supposed to do this every six months. So every six months, if you don’t change these batteries, they sound an alarm notifying you to change the batteries. Trust me, you will freaking hear this unless you have truly the worst hearing.
This sound, this beep, beep, beep, every 30 seconds or so has become the sound of my life. Guess what? I hear it here nonstop now. This maintenance department here refuses to do the simple job of going around the building and changing batteries and has left it up to residents (those with normal hearing) to do it themselves. When I hear an alarm very close to my apartment going off on a night or weekend, I just have to put up with it, because they tell me if I make a call to report it I will have to pay these guys for “overtime.” Bastards.
They tell me my hearing is “abnormal” and have suggested that I turn on a TV to drown it out. Oh, please.
I saw a guy in the elevator holding his alarm in his hand. He had gotten onto a ladder or reached up (liability!) and gotten his alarm off the wall. He was holding it in his hand. I asked him about it and assumed it was the batteries…of course, I was right. He said, “I just want this thing to quiet down. How do I get it to stop making that noise?”
“Tell the Housing Authority,” I said. “They need to change all the batteries in all the detectors. They should have done this six months ago.”
But he didn’t understand. “How do I get it to stop?”
“Ask them to show you how to open it up. Take that thing to the office.”
There are people who do not wear their hearing aids whose detectors are beeping in their apartments for hours and hours and they don’t even know it. Kinda useless, huh? So these are folks who play their TV’s at triple volume just so they can hear their TV’s.
Such is my own hallway, the second floor. Blasting TV’s.
“So Mom is coming over here?” I ask. “I’m not sure I have a good chair for her to sit. A lot of my chairs sort are sort of falling apart, you know?”
I know one of my wood chairs broke when I tried to lift it, so I don’t want my mother in that. There’s a circular chair that might be hard to get out of, so that’s out. I don’t want her on my couch, cuz I sleep on that. So it would be my desk chair. Only you’re not supposed to put a whole lot of weight on the arms. It’s not hugely techno. But Mom was coming in a walker, wasn’t she?
Honestly, I don’t have any clue.
God forbid if she wants to use the bathroom. Get this: the toilet seat they gave me? Guess what it’s made of. Pressed wood that’s painted. And the paint’s chipped. Now of course, that’s rather unsanitary, but if I ask for a replacement, I’m sure they’ll give me something far worse. This one at least stays in place. Now you know there are a lot of toilet seats out there that wobble when you sit on them. We don’t like wobbly toilet seats. So I’m sticking with this very gross one I’ve got. However, Mom is bound to make some snide comment. The object is to keep her out of the bathroom, see?
So I give my brother directions a zillion times. Here in Watertown, the town that’s been kinda showered with bullets lately and circled a zillion times over by helicopters last week. But never mind that. I tell him the landmarks to look for.
My dog, Puzzle, barks a whole bunch when the bell rings. Not that I blame my little dog. I buzz them in. I can hear my mom yelling all the way down the hall. Oh, anticipation. No, this lady ain’t so frail.
So, readers. You know I focus a large amount of my blog on the topic of eating disorders, because some 30+ years ago this malady came into my life. I have not seen my mom for over two years, meaning that she has not seen me for over two years as well.
Guess what the first words out of her damn mouth are?
You got it.
It was a remark about my weight. And no, she did not say this in a quiet voice, and yes, my walls are paper thin.
My brother kicked her. Well, sorta kicked her.
The discussion went on from there. My mom chit-chatted, in an extremely loud and obnoxious voice, on the topic of money. Thankfully, she doesn’t make much sense these days. Everything she said was as loud as can be.
And when they left, the two walked down the hall, my mom carrying on as loudly as she could. Lord knows what she was saying but I’m sure if it’s true that “old people become more like themselves as they age” she did her best to embarrass me and I cannot imagine what “comments” she made with my curious neighbors all lined up along the hall wondering, “Who the heck is that loud old lady coming out of that girl’s apartment?” Knowing my luck, my mom freaking introduced herself to those assholes.
After they left, I curled up with Puzzle and went to sleep for a long time. Now, I really don’t know what to think except I’m glad it’s over. Tomorrow is another, quieter day.