Friday, July 30, 2010


I stand watching as she walks slowly to the car with her walker, inching closer and closer to the car, reaching out tentatively to grasp the edge of the door, pushing the walker aside as she still holds it for balance, takes my hand or arm, inches her way closer to the car door, reaches slowly for the handle above the window. 
I guide her hand to the handle, she grasps my arm for balance, shifting her weight slowly, slowly, then finally she’s in position to ease herself into the seat. I stand at her back to brace her and then gently shove her so that she is centered on the seat. I hand her purse to her, and reach in and put the seatbelt around her, shut the door, and put her walker in the back of the car.
I get in the car, adjust the visor so that she can control it when the sun hits her. I take off. We get to the physical therapist’s office. I make sure that we are not too close to the curb. I get out, get the walker, bring it around to the door, open the door. She begins to get out. First the feet, then the legs, slowly extending, then pushing against the seat, pulling on the side of the doorframe, then reaching for the grip on the door to pull her. Or, she grabs my extended hand and I pull with all my might, hoisting, pulling, until she is on her feet, still, on her feet, after all these years. 
She grabs for the walker, and slowly she walks toward the doors. First one door. A heavy door that I hold while she enters. 
But then another door that I have to hold open while holding the first door open so it doesn’t hit her as it closes. She’s not aware that I need a place to stand while holding both doors. The walker runs against my toe. I move it out of the way, reaching to extend my arms at the same time. Good thing I'm flexible.
She’s in. Now to find the restroom. Oh, it’s through that electric powered door and then through the door on the right.
Hold the door so that it doesn’t come back and whack her as it almost did once when she powered it herself but couldn’t get out of the way as it opened toward her. I had to run, grab her, the walker, and the door. That won't happen again.
To the bathroom. Hold the door while she gets herself and the walker into the bathroom. Door shut. She’s on her own. But I lurk by the door, waiting to hear if she needs help. Ten minutes. Mom, are you okay. I’m fine.
Sometimes I think that she has died in the bathroom. It's a terrible thought, but one that occurs when it's silent for so long.
I open the door. She’s fine. She’s washing her hands. Mom, the soap is off. Amy is waiting for you.
The physical therapist gets her adjusted on the bed where she will do ultrasound on mom’s bone spurs on the bottom of her feet.
I have to go to the bathroom, she says. You know that at this age my plumbing isn’t what it used to be.
Mom, you’re just anxious. You just went and you went before we left. Please hold on, because if you have to get up then Amy has to start all over again.
I think, just you wait, Martha. When someone tells you that you really don’t have to go to the bathroom when you really do have to go. Now.
Mom, please just hold on. She’s almost done. Then you can go to the restroom.
Okay, Sybil, I’m done. You’re all set.
I’m not coming back again. What does this ultrasound do anyway?
Remember mom, when she did it before? She made your bone spurs go away.
And besides, you might live to be 102 (which is actually just around the corner) or, Amy says, 107.
Noooo, don’t say that.
We just want you to be able to walk no matter how old you are.
Back on go the support hose, then the shoes, then turning her slowly so she can right herself. She’s up. Now she’s headed toward the bathroom.
I open the door for her. She's in. Then I wait. Ten minutes. Mom, are you okay?
Back to the elevator door. I push the button, the doors open. She walks in. We stand there. And stand there. I finally say, oh, I guess I need to push the button so we can move. I’m tired. And I'm not 101.
Down the stairs, out one door. Out another door. Mom, wait here while I get the car. But stand here so you are out of the way of the doors. I do not want to return to find her whacked out on the floor by an out of control electric door.
I run get the car. Pull it up in front. Go to the door. She’s on her way out. Slowly walking to the car. The sun is beating down on both of us. It’s 98 in the shade. It’s okay. We can do this. My foot hurts. Slowly, finally, she’s at the curb. Holding on to the door, then reaching for the handle, then … she’s in. The walker in the back. I take off.
We’re at her place. Out of the car. Same routine. I park. By the time I park she’s going in the front doors. The electric door closes behind her almost hitting her in the back. I cringe and tell myself I should have gotten her in the door before I parked.
Okay. In her apartment. She heads for the bathroom.
Mom, I’m going now. I’ve got to go.
Okay, honey, I love you. Thank you so much.
I love you, too.
I close the door behind me.


JoyRainbow said...

What a delightfully written piece, Martha! Even though it is bare bones (giving the action mostly) it shows so much more about you and your mom than just a trip to PT. It gives a picture of what it takes to care for your mom and the extreme care you take in everything you do for her. I haven't read something like this before from you but I love it! More please!

Martha Goudey said...

I like this too. Thank you. It felt just as you described it. Bare bones, but descriptive of a simple visit to the P.T. I laughed when I finished it. Thought it was funny and sad at the same time.

Jasara said...

I wouldn't have thought there was a story in doors, but I also know there's a story in everything. This a great entry. It is streamlined and focused because of the image you chose, and what a symbolic image it is. There is so much you are showing without telling us, which is the best writing. I like that the doors suggest both yours and your mother's emotion while also creating distance. The emotions of your situation are so powerful, the doors make the reader able to absorb that power instead of put up defenses against it.

I like it. I can't wait to read more.