Two days and nights of delight, then Patti realized what had been happening around her.
Meeting Benjamin and Bobby
What had transpired that morning, and perhaps into the next several weeks, was unbelievably difficult to recollect as each day passed into another. How did Patti end up hospitalized in a big city psychiatric facility?
"Christ! It doesn't make any sense. What the fuck was that old woman thinking--or maybe she wasn't thinking. Maybe she's gone over the top, into the deep end of non-sensibility with age-related dementia. Betty wasn't a healthy 88-year old, but she wouldn't admit it to herself or anyone else, particularly her only daughter Patti was aware her mother's brain function was slowly dimishing, but she'd never mentioned it because she tried to still respect her mother, like her long deceased father and more recently deceased stepfather.
The problem was not that Betty was thinking. She didn't even try to held a conversation with her daughter that morning. They'd been up late, with Patti expalining to her mother how the church peoplle who lived in the hyouse across the street from her had started a choir. They not only sang all the religious favorites of church people, they had begun singin Beatles's songs too. Patti enjoyed their practice sessions tremendously. He mother was unusually aloof from the conversation. She must had already had the plot in her head before she went to sleep. Patti didn't know her mother could be like this; she'd been concerned before, but she'd never gone proactive, taking the offense in this kind of situation
Betty was thinking! This was no spur of the minute attack. Patti didn't feel it was her mother's place to interfere. Patti remembered how as a child, when the aunts and uncles came over for conversation, they said lots of horrible things about colored people--because that was the politically correct term back then, in the early to mid-1960s.
She never bad mouthed Michael when I talked to her on the phone about him. First she kinda ignored my interest in what she considered a post life corse, that she probably wouldn't n't give a flip about still today.
I told her how I expected to go to California, and be involved in the raising of three children. She should have been happy for me. I was concerned about leaving her behind with no other family members.
"It's not like I'm gassing up the truck getting ready to drive to California. It's a big state, and I don't know exactly where he is now. But someday soon Mom, I may tell you I'm packing a suitcase, and my cats and dogs, and going to live with my love in California.
She got mean, and she lied to me, and she and her home health care worker had a good laugh at my expense. It was no big deal to me. Patty wouldn't have expected them to be believers. But being ignored must've changed to feeling like she had to take some activity at some point in time.
"But, never," Patti emphsized to herself, "have I been a danger to myself or others." "it's just a few little trips out in the truck that I can't totally recall. And then I'd passed out three times and didn't know it. The old woman was just mad at my Russian psychiatrist because he wouldn't discuss the case with her". Her pissed Betty off, and she still had the snap to spring into amazingly brutal action. And her decision changed Patti's life in ways that wouldn't have happened otherwise--it was bad stuff..
fuming and foot stomping made her feel justifiably victimized--yet for what she did not know.
The fluffy red Chow looked sympathetic, snorted his condolences, and proceeded into the warm house through his doggie door. As the dog walked across the back porch, I saw the drapes sway quickly closed across the backyard picture window. My mother has not only locked me out, but she also doesn't want to look at me. This feels dysfunctionally familiar she thought to herself, and wished for a cigarette and a lighter. It was part old habit, and part an instantaneous rebellion when her Mother abruptly began asserting too mugh "guidance" in her life. Shit. She was a rebel with a cause--she wanted to go inside, get warm, and enjoy a second cup of coffee.
She remembered as a child her Mother would become angry at something Patti had done, or not done, and her Mother would announce in a voice so absolutely cold and racked of emotion, to "go away", to go to her room, to get out of her Mother's sight, because she was too angry to deal with whatever mild mischief Patti, an only child in the 1960s, ever managed to create.
"She fucking intentionally trapped me out in the yard with the dog! I was outdoors in my nightshirt with a cup of coffee. Then, when I realized I needed a robe, I turned to go back in the house with the dog, who was following me, and I heard that sound I recognized--but couldn't believe. My Mother snapped shut the deadbolt lock on the back door. She's locked me out!" In Texas, a November morn in the 40s is most unseasonably cold, especially after sleeping in a warm house..
Patti had spent the night at her Mother's house, had a foggy memory of talking to her 88 year old Mother about some Beatles songs that kept going through her head, and then for some reason totally unknown to Patti, big crocodile tears fell from her Mother's eyes, she left the room crying and went to her own bed for the night. Patti remembered falling onto the floor once during the night from tossing and turning in the unfamiliar bed. Always ready to over-react, her mother turned on lights along the way, and approached the room as if I'd been overcome by some demonic spirit.
"Mom, I just fell out of bed. There's nothing wrong except that. I'm used to sleeping with a pillow at my back at home. It wasn't there to stop me, and I just kept rolling."
Patti was tired and ready to go back to sleep. Her mother looked like crap. More that that she looked older. She had such an unfamiliar look in her eyes. Patti couldn't decipher it, but she knew she didn't like it. But 4:00 am isn't the best time for discussions. Her mother trailed back down the hall to her bedroom, shutting off all the lights along the way.
Patti's sleep was unsettled. She had no trouble sleeping till noon on a regular basis, but not this morning. The sun was shining, and she could smell coffee, ready to be poured and enjoyed.
Late night became early morning before the lights were shut off , and each in their separate beds. sitting up and trying to carry on a nice conversation. Usually things were good between the 50-something only child and her twice widowed Mother. There had been contention of late. They hadn't had a fight, or disagreement as far as Patti knew, but her mother seemed so distant. Conversations had become less personal and more emotionally charged--no matter what the subject. Her Mother would be happy for positive advances Patti shared with her about expected possibilities which might cross her path and improve her life soon. Then, next conversation her mother would challenge every concept they might discuss. Patti usually just stayed away from her mother when she went on one of her own types of obessive jaunts.
They tried to live apart and care for each other, but Patti knew a lot more about what ailed her emotionally than her mother did. The mother kept health and business matters from her daughter and that was her perogative. However, it didn't work the other way. Sometimes, if you're the daughter--and you have no back up--you might as well realize that being right doen't mean you win the war. I was still trying to figure out the parameters of what I thought that "war" might be about. She didn't want me leaving town and getting married--though she'd dednied it. None of this was making sense to Patti. But she had to get inside.
The back yard was fully burglar-proofed as far as the fence was concerned. The chain link fence across the back of the yard by the ally was extended three feet beyond it's four foot top with a triple strand of barbed wire. I wasn't climbing over that, and of course her mother had a chain and lock to prevent unauthorized access. The neighbor of the east had a six foot wooden fence. Couldn't see over, and couldn't climb over because of the way the fence was constructed. Also, the chain link gate on that side of the house had a lock, a chain, and another triple length of barbed wire on the top. The west gate was made of metal iron bars, eight feet tall, and also padlocked shut. There seemed to be no exit, so I began to call my mother's name at both neighbor's back windows..
but greeting the crisp November morn with a warm cup of coffee, and an idea for a leisurely stroll through the garden, accompanied by the somewhat unpredictable Chow dog..for Patti to sort out in her mind. She
d, trying to figure out what had actually happened. Patti knew she'd walked to the back of the ambulance parked outside her mother's home that cool and early Novermber morning. She guessed she must have carried her purse out of the house with her because she was quite ready to escape the result of her Mother's outlandish behavior that morning.