We spent Christmas day here, just the two of us. I didn’t ask her if she wanted to go to Tony’s- I mean, what’s the point after she was so adamant about NOT wanting to be there for Thanksgiving. I’d thought to call and ask them to come here for the day but first I procrastinated, probably because knowing my brother he wouldn’t have wanted to and I was feeling guilty about putting him in the position to have to say “No”. But, in the end it didn’t matter because when I called Suemi was just getting over a cold, Tony was sick and although Nile was there, Zachary had just left for a trip to Japan to visit relatives.
Late Christmas morning Miss Cathy told me that one of her girlfriends had invited her to dinner and that I was invited, too. I didn’t want to go (and said as much) but I would gladly drive her whenever she was ready.
I was actually excited for her, thinking that she’d get dressed up and have fun hanging out with her friends but she put a kibosh on that right quick. She said that she didn’t want to go either and when I asked if it was because I wasn’t going she said “No”, that she didn’t want to go “regardless” (and her friend had even offered to come pick her up!).
I gotta say, I was pretty miffed. I told her that I don’t understand how she can just sit in this apartment all the time and not go out (sometimes for more than a week) and not do anything or see her friends. “Well,” she said, very satisfied with herself, “I talk to my friends on the phone all the time.”
My first thought upon hearing that was, “Well fuck! If all you want is talk on the phone and never go anywhere I can go back to my life and put your happy ass in an old folks home.” I’m starting to understand how people can beat the elderly-not that I condone or would ever do anything like that. Again, I would NEVER touch Miss Cathy (or anybody for that reason) it’s just that it gets sooo frustrating sometimes that you can think all sorts of crazy things.
I’m also starting to understand how old people become shut ins-and the sad part is that she’s NOT that old.
I just don’t get it and I’m trying too. First there was the panic about going to Tony’s, okay, that’s an easy one because of my brother’s house being associated with sickness and being away from home for a long period of time-I get that (kind of). But now there’s this “it’s too cold to go outside” excuse-which pretty much means she’s justified (in her mind) of NOT leaving these four walls until sometime in March.
Speaking of the weather-actually I’m still talking about Miss Cathy (what else is new) but today as I was washing her hair she told me she was thinking about making an appointment at a beauty parlor but her concern was not about the weather but the fact that there are “20 stairs” she’d have to climb to get inside the building.
“So.” I said,” you’ll just walk a little slower. It’s not like you have to walk the stairs everyday. Besides, you could use the exercise.”
“Nah,” was her response. I told her that I don’t understand why she even bothered to have the knee replacement surgery if all she’d going to do is be afraid to walk anywhere.
“I’d like to give YOU a knee replacement surgery and see how you’d like it.” She said.
“I’d do a helluva lot better than you, I know that.” I replied. “You talk like you’re the only person this has ever happened to, there are people older than you having this surgery and they’re jumping out of planes, running in marathons, dancing and rock climbing!”
“No they aren’t either.” She said, her voice muffled by the towel she had wrapped round her head as she dried her hair and toddled away, “I’ll bet they wish they were doing as well as I am. I think I’ve come a long way.”
Yeah well, I know you do and that’s the problem.
I don’t know, it’s been nine months since her surgery and you’d think (I thought) by now she’d be much further along than she is; better balance, more speed and less afraid of a fall- maybe that’s just my “wish” for her. The truth is, before I moved in with her five months ago I had no idea what her day-to-day life was. I didn’t know how large or small her world was.
Of course I had impressions of what I “thought” her life was like but that was based on twice weekly phone calls from twelve hundred miles away. Now that I’m here, part of me is like a parent with a child, trying not to impose my vision of who/what they should be, rather I’m trying to hang back and let her “be”.