Let There Be Flowers, Somewhere, for Helen

Saguaro National Park, Tucson, AZShe’s at it again, apparently.

I send my younger brother $500 a month from her account, a lifesaver for him, for looking in on her. It’s a pittance, but I can’t really send him any more, because she’s already upset about my paying him at all: push her too far, and she might get it together to make things even worse.

Helen is 87 and a rolling mess o’ trouble. My brother’s not in the best of shape himself, wheezing for air with bad lungs. He had a cancerous chunk of kidney removed last year and just suffered through a dozen needle biopsies of his colon at the VA hospital. He obviously can’t work in the usual sense of the word, but he certainly does work, bringing Helen the mail and newspaper from the old address (she’s never changed it), fixing this and that, and checking in on her a couple of times a day from his own place a few blocks away. He buys the groceries and takes her places, or would, since it seems she doesn’t want to leave the trailer any more. I think you get the picture.

For the last two weeks, she’s been saying that “something’s not the way it used to be in my body.” This is my mother I’m talking about… Something’s not the way it used to be in her body, it probably hurts, and my brother has tried every day to get her to go to urgent care at the hospital. She won’t go, of course. Apparently she doesn’t go to medical or dental appointments any more, deciding at the last minute that it’s too much trouble to get into the car. In response to this latest episode, my brother got her a doctor’s appointment, though whether she’ll actually make it is an open question. I hope she does.

But today they must have had a fight. Helen knows just which buttons to push, even at her age, and sometimes I think that’s the only thing that keeps her going. In the aftermath, my brother called to say he needed to vent, and vent he did. I can’t believe the things still going down. A short way into the narrative, I could tell he was especially bothered about something, and out it came: “Mother said she wanted me to tell you not to send me so much money…” he said, the unspoken need for reassurance hanging in the air.

I told him no way in hell would I do that. I said a few more things, and we had a laugh. But thinking about it now, a few hours later, I just want to get drunk and cry.

John Hamilton Farr lives in Taos, New Mexico, U.S.A. with his classical pianist wife. “Possibly the only place I can get away with this,” he says. As New York Times best-selling author James C. Moore (Bush’s Brain) put it in a review of John’s first book, Buffalo Lights is the work of a man attuned to the world who sees it differently than you and I and writes about it with a language and a vision of life that is impossible to ignore.” John is the author of BUFFALO LIGHTS, TAOS SOUL, ANOTHER DAY IN PARADISE, and THE HELEN CHRONICLES. He has been publishing online since 1996 (Zoo Zone, Farr Site, MacFaust, GRACK!, FarrFeed) and blogs regularly here at JHFARR.COM. See also → John’s Twitter profile, Amazon Author Page, video channel at YouTube, and website photos at SmugMug. To email John, please see CONTACT INFO on About page.  

  • beth March 15, 2009, 10:21 AM

    Dear John, be the strongest man you can be. love beth

  • John H. Farr March 15, 2009, 10:31 AM

    Hi Beth!

    I’m fine, thank you. The emotions are very real, but when you see me able to write stuff like this, you know I’m good to go.

  • beth March 15, 2009, 2:46 PM

    Test, last post crashed Safari 1.3.2, forgot to tell you, we’ll see if this crashes too…

  • beth March 15, 2009, 2:49 PM

    yup, it crashes. Ater I hit the post button, the window changes to top of the article, then the browser crashes. Thought you might like to know since the format is new. No problems just reading though, since I rarely comment it’s probably no big dealeo. love beth

    • John H. Farr March 15, 2009, 6:16 PM

      I think you meant Safari 3.2.1, didn’t you? You can’t possibly be running Safari version 1. But I have 3.2.1, and it works fine. It does do that hop to the top thing and then bounce back, though. I don’t think that’s supposed to happen!

      Well, there are things to work out. This is all bleeding edge here. (If anyone else out there is having problems, please let me know, and which browser version you’re using on which OS…)

  • Frank March 15, 2009, 6:19 PM

    Be strong John. You are in our prayers and thoughts.

    The Frank n’ Judi Show

    Safari 3.2.1 works just fine!

  • John H. Farr March 15, 2009, 7:33 PM

    The thing with my mother is, the sadness will crush your heart like a grape under a boot. Even with the psychic distance I’ve traveled, I feel it, hard. Surprising myself, I sent her an email tonight with a photo of how she looked when she was pregnant with me (her first-born).

    That’s all I can do these days, hit a golf ball into the ocean. And so it goes…

  • Bill March 19, 2009, 7:39 PM

    Thank You Johnnie…..

  • John H. Farr March 20, 2009, 12:15 AM

    You’re welcome, bro’. Hang in there.

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