So, last night, I am sitting on the couch, with my feet in my foot spa, drinking a cup of tea, and the phone rings. I look at the call display, and see that is my aunt from Small Town. I stared at the phone, wondering if I should even bother answering. I was having a good day, and I figured a long distance call from someone who has never called me before, would never be a good thing. I mustered my courage, and answered anyways.
"Abigail, it's Auntie. Now, I have some news, and it's not good news, but it's not that bad either. It just sucks. Please don't get upset, I already scared your uncle when I called him."
"Um, okay, what's up?"
"Your mom is in the hospital. She had a fall, and broke her right wrist, and had a reaction to the pain meds they gave her, and she needs to come to The City for surgery."
She continued to tell me the rest of the story, what had to be done, who I had to call, and what I had to do and expect. We chatted for awhile, then I hung up the phone and called the brothers to let them know what happened.
Now, my first instinct was to drive home. But, I stopped myself. I knew I could help by picking her up when she needed me to, and looking after her once she was here, and if she needs me, I can go and stay with her in Small Town for awhile until her arm is better.
As I was sorting out this mess in my head, I thought of a passage from an Erma Bombeck book I stole from my mom's book shelf about ten years ago. (Sorry, mom.) She is contemplating the transition of power between mother and daughter, and why and when she became the mother, and her mother became the child. She needs to take care of her mother, but they both rebel against it. She still wants to be a kid, and her mother is not ready to step down yet.
I remember the first time I witnessed this between my mom and her mother. We had to stop at Nana's house, on the way home, and mom sent me inside. When I got in the house, Nana looked stoned, and was smiling and laughing as she told me she had been throwing up all afternoon. She said she was fine, and didn't need anything and rushed me out the door. I ran to the car.
"Mom, there's something wrong with Nan. She's actin' funny." I will never forget the look of fear on my mom's face, or how calm and cool she was while dealing with the situation.
My own transition has been slowly evolving since my dad died. The very first time I ever felt like an adult, was the day we went to the funeral home, and planned the funeral. I got to have a say in the arrangements, what urn we would buy, etc. Mom asked me my opinion on things, and let me take hold of the reigns a bit, even though I wasn't really sure that I wanted to, deep down.
The transition started to speed up this past summer, when my mom found out she had Bueger's Disease. I never really worried about her before this. Even after my dad died, I knew that my mom was strong, and could look after herself, and although I wasn't as close as I wanted to be to her, she had a great support system of friends and family in Small Town, if she needed anything. Then, all of a sudden, I was taking her to appointment after appointment. It was me that was sitting in the hospital, annoying doctor's and nurses, waiting for results and tests and worrying about my mother, just as she had done when I was in the hospital. I started wishing that I could just be a kid again, and mom could just go back to being strong and healthy and looking after me. I realized, that if something bad ever happened, I would be put in her place, take on that position of power. It would be me that would look after her, or the boys, and all the other things in between. I was a bit angry with the world, and wanted my mom to stop aging, because she was just dragging me along with her, and I wasn't ready to grow up and worry about these things.
The truth is, I can handle anything that's thrown at me. I get that from my mom. I am strong and independent, just like she is, and a broken arm, isn't the end of the world, it just sucks. But today, I am feeling old, and just wish that we could go back twenty-five years, when our roles were more clear, and mom was the one who had to take care of my scrapes and bruises and wipe away my tears, and I could just go through life knowing that no matter what, I was being taken care of, by the strongest woman in the world.