I needed Jesus last week. Praise the Lord, I did. I needed to sit in a pew, hear Father Rigoli philosophize from the pulpit, and stand in a circle holding hands with total strangers during Our Father. I needed to go into the quiet of my mind and just BE. With no judgement, self-inflicted or otherwise. Waiting on 7 am mass, I found myself @ the Starbucks on Canal at 5 am. Sitting, drinking coffee, maybe an occasional Facebook stalking, and then onto some work.
Earlier, I had parked on Rampart and walked down Conti to Royal and up Canal. I circled the puddles of foam that disguise the remnants of one, two, or three-too-manys. Oh, the lovely scent of debauchery that lines the cobblestone streets! Still, I found myself smiling as I crossed between the bedazzled palm trees, waiting on the streetcar to pass. In the early morning hours, the Quarter is not the raucous, neon-lit, beaded, tourist spot. You might find a Leidenheimer truck delivering loafs of air and crusty magic, boat loads of fresh linens wrapped in cellophane being carted to the back door of the Sonesta, or a lone doorman @ the Monteleone smoking a cigarette between the exhale of waiting cabs.
The Quarter-at this hour-she’s just figuring things out. Taking in the night before. Digesting the sordid events and details. She’s both welcoming and charming. And I know it sounds totally nuts, but I swear she is listening. I just throw all my shit out to the universe, the sadness about my mom, the head full of worries about the stress of caretaking on dad, the sick-and-tiredness I have about being fucking alone and single, the crazy ass people I must speak to…Every. Damn. Thing. And then, I just breathe. And walk. And settle into a pew on Rampart.
However, this morning in the room that was once plastered with pink and purple butterflies, white wicker, and Sean Cassidy posters, I lay in bed thinking back to last week. I think about the grace and dignity of the folks at morning mass. The safety of the pews allows some to drift off during Father’s R’s homily. Snoring punctuating each hymn. I hear dad starting the coffee, shuffling his slippered feet across the kitchen floor and I stare at the ceiling. Mom’s probably sitting on the edge of the bed tying her laces ready for her morning walk.
“Rose, here are your pills. Today is Monday.” He’ll offer as they stand at the kitchen counter.
“Well, it says Sunday on the first tab, Joe,” looking for guidance.
“I know, but today is Monday so you’ll take your Monday pill.”
And so it goes like this for my mom. Wake up. Take a pill. SIt on the couch, Say good morning to Jodi. Watch the birds as dad reads the paper. Take another walk. Maybe make a cup of coffee. Eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Maybe two. On a very good day, she’ll turn her head and say, “How are you, Jodi? You ok? How’s life treating you? It’s hard this thing we call life. Isn’t it? She laughs a little. Even if we don’t want it to be, sometimes it is.”
In those rare moments now, I realize how damn much I need and miss my mom. How much in those comments she’s speaking for both of us. In these seemingly matter-of-fact mundane, quiet moments, I ache for a hug from my mom.
Later, when my dad was running to our local golf course to get a chain saw, (yes that happened!) he asked me to tell my mom to stay in the house upon her return from her 85th walk that morning. (Note: it is about 39 degrees and raining).
“Mom, Dad is out, but wants you to stay put because you and he are going to go somewhere when he gets home,” I say looking down from the upstairs banister.
Mom, squinting her eyes, responds, “Well, I can go out if I want to. No one’s gonna tell me..” Her voice trails off.
I meet Dad in the kitchen, tears in my eyes. Frustrated at what my mom just said to me and about me.
“Jodi, kid, you’re acting like… You think Mom is.. Mom.”
“Dad, she is my Mom. You hear her– She told me…”
“She tells me she hates me too under her breath all the time when I make her mad. And THEN she tells me how much she would be lost without me ten seconds later,” He touches my shoulder. “You just gotta roll with it, kiddo.”
And then Dad, he gives me a hug.