Friday, May 9, 2008

Another Day, Another Flight

Car to plane to plane to bus to train to ferry to home.

An interesting week, indeed. It started with mother deciding I should drive from New Orleans to her home in Mississippi... me, the person who hasn't driven in almost a year, save the three block attempt in the fall, when a number of New York drivers told me I was #1 in their book of driving. Back when I stalled out the manual transmission I was driving, because I've not driven a manual transmission in donkey's years... and what does she drive?

A manual transmission VW. No, not a chicken killing machine, it's upgraded, but, it's got a clutch and you move the stick thing in the middle of the bump thing between the seats when the engine sounds as if it is going to come through the firewall.

My mother is a backseat driver. I was going too fast, too slow, I didn't check my mirrors enough, I was not paying attention to the magnolias in bloom, the trucks that had tires bigger than we were nor her perfectly good family gossip that I've listened to so often, I know when she's going to take a breath.

She also is horrible about giving directions...

"Momma, there are three exits coming up...which one do I take?"

"Oh, any of, wait, take the next one."

"This one coming up?"

"No, the next one after that! This is this one, that is the next one."

I drive past only to hear, "Oh, well, why didn't you turn there, it's a short cut."

And I know this, how?

I never did figure out the town of no theaters or WiFi.... there is no rhyme nor reason to the way the streets are laid out... the upside is, there is a WalMart, and the vet backed me up in telling mother to stop feeding the terrier table food. In a matter of days, she stopped scratching. The terrier, not mother. I think it was the fried sweet potato sticks that put me over the edge...seeing my once snappy New York Westie eating fried potato sticks was a bit much.

Mother is upset over the food restrictions...and I'm pretty sure she'll still sneak in a bowl of coffee to the dog every morning when they sit outside and watch the birds in the birdbath.

I wasn't there 24 hours, when I felt ill... this was before the dog eating the sweet potato sticks, and not due to my consuming my weight in boiled crawfish and loving my coffee and chicory.

I've had a fairly serious headache for a few weeks and put it off to allergies... long to short, I ended up in the hospital, with high blood pressure. Yet another pill to take, all of it traced to my missing thyroid. Crap food... I had to be tested one morning (they'd seen a shadow on my CAT, so, an MRI was done to make sure I didn't have a brain tumour). The kind nurses left my breakfast, so, I came back to cold toast and cold grits.

Did you know cold grits solidify to a form somewhat like a brick? You can actually pick up the entire mass from the bowl and eat it as if it were a sandwich.

I declined, and opted for the yummy cold coffee. Twenty four hours there, and they released me... with, yes, more pills.

I never made it into the city proper once we drove back to Louisiana... we did see a plethora of dead armadillos, the lovebugs were in season, and a great number of them died on our car with smiles on their faces (for those who don't know, lovebugs link together as they mate, then fly around, smashing themselves on cars and trucks across the south), the magnolias were blooming, and that massive dense forest that makes up Mississippi, with the thick underbrush crept up against the highway.

You always feel it moves silently in the night, waiting for an unsuspecting car to pull over...and vanish.

Kudzu abounds, of course, consuming everything in it's path. Bless the government for bringing that into our area!

Mother remains in ICU, more because she hates sharing a room than anything else. My trip to the airport included a stop for a (bad) softshelled crab po-boy,...sadly full of grit, a pint of frozen gumbo and a (great) shrimp po-boy that I packed in my case along side the pounds of CDM coffee and chicory. These seafood sandwiches topped off my already consumed over the time there- fried oyster po-boys, at least two dozen raw on the shell oysters (no, the stories aren't true), a good two pounds of shrimp, fried shrimp, boiled shrimp, coconut shrimp, stuffed oysters (along with the raw ones) and catfish. And butterbeans and blackeyed peas and fried chicken and tomato and cucumber salad and fried green tomatoes. And gallons of coffee. And a praline or two.


Driving over the Lake, you could see the dirty water of the Mississippi dumping in from the opened spillways.... it's carried down mud, trees and even a cow or two from upriver. The levees were threatening to break again, so, the Corps of Engineers have opened up the spillway, and dumped the excess into the Lake. It's amazing how you can see the difference between the waters, and where it enters, it's choppy and rough. The building goes on for I-10, to re-build what Katrina ripped apart.

My Aunt A and I drove and talked and laughed as we always do... without her and my cousin, Ann, I would be lost with this situation with mother. I know she is being watched over and someone is there to check on her daily. I could fly back here, and rest easy, remotely monitoring the situation. Home health care will step in once she is back at Aunt A's... after that, well, we'll see how it goes.

Once I arrived here from the Ferry, I was had been a long trek home, and I treated myself to something from the Ferry... a gypsy cab ride! I knew it would be a memorable one when I closed the door, gave the address and he said, "How do we get there?" I loves me my gypsy cabs.

Plus, I knew my aunt would be worried otherwise..."Boo, take a cab!" she'd said to me.

I am lucky with my maternal relatives... I come from a line of women who are giving and loving and never hold over my head the odd quirks I have had all my life. They laugh with me, not at me... and love me for who I am. My cousin, MV, saved my life in the thyroid thing... pushing, giving info, always there to tell me to believe it would get better, what questions to ask. Her sister gets along with mother, something I'm not able to do for long periods of time. And their mother?

She's the one I called Aunt Lolo... who calls me Boo, yells at me, says the terrier is a white roach, has housed the parish priest since Katrina, would give you the shirt off her back, has this yard full of gnomes and statues and a huge bower of honeysuckle and who loved her husband the way we all want to be loved by our spouse. The way he loved her until the day he died.

They keep me going back to New Orleans. That family of mine, who act as if I've never been gone, that all speak at full volume, the ones you know are there. Ann's husband, who never fails to ask how my fat ass is doing, in his heavy accent, yet, will drive all over to find me an oyster po-boy the night I flew in.

Thank you, Lolo and Ann...all of you. For everything you did when I was there, more importantly, when I'm not there. I want to be Lolo when I grow up.

She's there making a little something to eat, reminding you to take your meds, to go to bed, to say your prayers... her only failure was not making me spray on the Off... I now have 4762 mosquito bites, all swollen, all being scratched in shifts.

Including the one on the sole of my left foot that is driving me mad.


austere said...

So beautiful...

So you got back safe and sound. Complete with interesting taxi driver how told you the tale of his family in the Punjab.

BP-uh huh. You take care, lady. But that's a "do-able" one.

Great to have you back.

coastrat said...

Oh, man! It's good to see your post! Have been wondering how things with your Mama were going... The next time you come home, if it is during '08, you better call me, or else. I absolutely love your post! From the descriptions of all the shrimp, sweet potato sticks, boiled crawfish, po-boys,the grits,butter beans, purple-hull peas (you did have some, didn't you?), catfish, pralines, and all the rest, including the kudzu, I felt like I was there. I pray that your Mama is coming along OK, and that YOU also are better under medical control. Oh yes, the Love bugs are getting more numerous every day over here, those little pups! It's getting so one can't even leave your windows open a smidge; here we go again! It's wonderful you have your Auntie and your cousin there by your Mama to help look after her; that means so much. Tack care and keep the posts coming!

Quin Browne said...

i didn't do the honeysuckle camera. it spreads back along the fence in wreaths of flowers.

tomatoes were already on the vine, i planted more roses, a wealth of things that will be producing more flowers by the time she returns.

the one thing i'm so grateful about is i never have to mow that st augustine grass again, ever in my life!

Writeprocrastinator said...

No offense, your mother makes me and the psychics of America scream. Hopefully, somewhere, there is a Rosetta Stone for her mind.

"lovebugs link together as they mate, then fly around, smashing themselves on cars and trucks across the south"

Wow, nature has gone all Cronenberg down there. It sounds like you have a wonderful family, save your mom trying to have you hone your ESP skills. A little Crosby Stills and Nash is order...

Just look at her and si-igh
And knows she loves you

Good gravy, I'm hungry after reading this post.

Peter Varvel said...

I want to be Lolo, too, when I grow up.
Lovely post, this, thank you. I so enjoyed reading the details.
I'm glad you're okay, despite cold, congealed hospital food.

Constant Drama said...

Your mother kinda sounds like my mother. Minus the directions part, my mom give excellent directions.

Glad that you're okay. Wouldnt have wanted anything else.