My mother phoned me the other day with an update on the family ailments. She recently walked into her mother’s house and was greeted by the smell of shit, piss and rotting flesh. The only surprise in that concoction was the flesh. Nan has been on and off the sauce for a bit now. My hunch is she might be back on it. She has managed to contract almost every disease that’s cause requires self-inducement. Nothing will kill her except herself. There’s something that makes me smile about that. She’s a fucking powerhouse. It’ll always go down her way. She was once on a road trip and decided to stop taking her blood thinning meds because it makes her have to piss and she didn’t want to have to stop on the way. She successfully had a heart attack in the back seat and told no one. We only found out once we got home via the doctor.

The house was overall deplorable. When my mother questioned the scent of decomposing body, her familial abandonment was officially declared and she was told to never return.

Eventually she discovers that her mother’s legs are rotting off her living body and while faced with the literal choice to change or amputate both her legs, she requests a double amputation from the doctor.

She’s abusive, violent. My mother sits there aloof, absorbing the direct hits. My cousin stays with my mother because he’s nervous about how violent Nan will get towards her. Luckily he’s already there because his father is dying of cancer a few doors down. The hospital ends up disconnecting the phone lines from her room because she won’t stop calling 911 and reporting imprisonment.

The next day she begins hallucinating. She thinks I’m sitting on the end of her bed. Accompanied by a flock of birds. I picture it like my face super-imposed onto the body of Snow White. She repeatedly asks for me. Nan and I have always known each other quite well. Not in a way were we speak, or our relationship has ever had much to do with kindness. She has regularly been rather cruel to me. I remember my mother sticking up for me once, in hysterics, asking Nan to stop being so vicious to me. Asking her why she picked on me with such relentlessness. I was eight at the time.

Nan told me that before I could talk, she would pick me up and hold me and I would cry. Every time like clock work. I’d like to ask, “Why did you keep picking me up then?” Instead I say nothing and listen. She tells me she keeps trying and eventually she realizes it’s the perfume she’s wearing that I don’t like. She holds her mouth open, silently gaping wide and her hands up in the air the way they must have when they discovered the theory of relativity. I say, “What perfume was it?” She says she doesn’t remember but will check when she gets home.

I remember not liking her and I remember respecting the fuck out of her. We’re drunks. We recognize each other cause that’s what the mirror looks like and we’re so self consumed that we always find ourselves in the crowd. When I was a kid and going to rehab for the first time, I ran into her before I left. We sat side by side in silence. While I was away I ran out of insurance money to pay for treatment and I was getting kicked out. Then I stayed and finished the program. I found out later Nan wired the money and paid for everything. I tried to thank her, once I got out of treatment. She told me to bend over and while pinching me so hard I bruised, she told me to never fucking talk to her like that again. She’s the type of person that’s quite possibly the kindest you’ll ever meet and if you ever find that out, she’ll slit your throat without blinking.

I was asked to visit the hospital room in a couple of days. Get ready for your mother fucking hallucinogenic mind to be blown.

– JT


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