Christmas With Mama

28 12 2008


Mom is not usually one for family functions. Everytime there is a reunion, a party, or a family get together, she generally feigns an illness. But she wasn’t getting away with it this year. She’s done enough of sitting in the house feeling sorry for herself–so I told her there would be no “migraines”, no “upset stomachs”, and no sudden onsets of “the flu.” “Sick” or not, I was dragging her ass to my aunt and uncle’s house for some family time.

Now, mom has a tendency to overmedicate herself. So it wasn’t altogether shocking to show up at her house and find her a little out of it, eyes not quite open as far as they should be, her movements just a bit slower than usual. As we made the fifteen minute trip to my uncle’s house, she opened up her purse and pulled out a bottle of pills.

“What are you taking?” I asked.

“My pain medicine”

“I think you’ve had enough of that.”

“No, it’s time to take it again.”  (Nevermind that several hours earlier she already sounded out of it on the phone, and when I phoned her just before I got there, she told me she was taking something for her aching back.)

“Well, why don’t you wait til you have some food on your stomach.” I said.

Well, ok.” she said. We stopped a few miles later because she needed a pack of cigarettes, and when I came back to the car from the convenience store, she was hurriedly closing her purse, and I was fairly certain she’d popped something. When we pulled into the driveway she said, “I’m just gonna take half of one, I’m hurtin’ awful bad.”

We walked into the house and said our hellos. Everyone had sat down to eat, so mom and I had to crowd around the table to make ourselves a plate. Twice mom nearly dropped hers, and she was so unaware that she dragged her plate through the back of Grandma’s freshly curled hair.

We took a seat in the sunroom and started eating. Before we were finished, my cousin “Midge” and her husband arrived. Mom stopped them in the small foyer and hugged them, and as usual referred to Midge’s husband as “Jeff Gordon.” She hugged them again, and blocked the door into the family room. Midge has been in a couple of local TV commercials, so mom had to tell her how pretty she looked and how she had been telling everyone it was her neice on the TV. “I see it all the time cause I only got two channels”  

“Let’s go inside.” Midge said.

“Well let me get a hug first!” Mom said, as if she had forgotten she already had two from them. While Mom was holding Midge and Jeff Gordon hostage in the foyer, most of the rest of the family had come into the sunroom. As mom walked back to her seat at the table, she stumbled around like a child on roller skates. Moving at a shuffle, tripping over the threshold, and utterly unable to maneuver the swivel chair she was trying to sit in.

“Oh God, she’s gonna fall!” someone said. I went and pulled the chair out.  Mom turned to my aunt, and complimented her sweater, slurring out the words to ask her where she got it and how much she paid for it. She tried to finish eating, but by that point, she didn’t even have the motor skills to bring the fork to her mouth.

“What is wrong with you?” my grandmother asked.


“You’ve been taking too many of your pills!” Grandma said.

No I haven’t!” mom said, “I’m just tard (tard, not tired) from eating so much! It’s the triptolene (sic) in this turkey!”

“You can’t even keep your eyes open!” Grandma said.

“I’ve got a tearduct infected.”  excuses, excuses.

I was trying to ignore her at this point, and was talking to my cousin Midge about her recent cruise. Mom interrupted.

I’ve only got two channels on my TV, so I see your commercial all the time. I heard it one day in the kitchen and went runnin’ in the living room cause I knew that was my niece.”  My aunt asked Midge if she got paid for her commercial appearances. As Midge and my aunt talked about how she came to be in the commercials, mom repeated herself for the third time.

“I see that commercial three or four times a day, cause I’ve only got two channels. They don’t  have telecable out where I live yet.” The aunt wearing the pretty sweater walked past. “That is the prettiest sweater! Where did you find it?”

“Mom, why don’t we get some fresh air.”

“Yeah, I need a cigarette” She got up from her chair and fell back in it, then slowly got to her feet, with the help of my uncle, and had to take my arm to even get outside the house. As we stood in the driveway she decided to check to see if her gentleman friend had called. Her phone was in a small cosmetics bag, and she sifted through it for several minutes.

“I know it’s in here.” she slurred. “Call me, so I can find it.” I flipped open my phone and dialed hers. Her bag began to ring, and the light from her phone became visible. By the time she actually found it, though, my call had gone to her voicemail. She flipped it open.

Missed call!” she shouted. “I wish he’d leave me the fuck alone!”

“The missed call is from me just now!” But she didn’t understand that…instead she flipped open the phone and tried a half dozen times to hit the enter button and see her missed call.

“I don’t wanna go back in there.” she said, “They all think I’m drunk.” I explained that no one thought that, but it was quite obvious she was overmedicated. “I am not! I only take what the doctor says I can!”

“Then your doctor needs to be turned over to the medical board. You can’t even walk. You’re repeating yourself, and you can barely keep your eyes open!”

It’s these new shoes! They hurt my feet. They ain’t broke in yet!”

We made it a few feet further. “Look at my legs shakin” mom said.

“Are you cold? Let’s get back inside.”

“No, I’m sposed to take a valium when I get like this, it will calm me down.”

The hell you are! You’ve had quite enough pills for one day.”

Back inside,  I went to the bathroom, and came back to find Grandma asking mom what she had just taken.

They said I’m supposed to take a valium when I’m feelin this way.I wish everyone would leave me alone! I am not drunk!” By this point, everyone was doing their best to just ignore her.

It was time to open gifts, and I had to help mom walk into the family room. She whispered that my aunt “hadn’t said ten words” to her. I suggested it might be because she asked her twice already where she purchased her sweater. This year, we’d decided just to exchange baked goods and candies, but most of us had still gotten a “real” present for grandma. Grandma had a pile of gifts at her feet.

Open up that purple one!” mom shouted, trying to get Grandma to open the gift from her first. But Grandma had already grabbed another gift, and before she could even finish thanking the person who gave it to her, mom was yelling again “That purple one is from me! Open that one up!” Grandma opened mom’s gift, a pair of pajamas, thanked her, and then reached for another gift. Mom stopped her from opening it, instead telling grandma what kind of material the pajamas were, what store they came from, and then climbing up on my 80-something grandmother’s lap, curling herself into a fetal position and cooing “I love you!”

Now, I do not embarass easily under any circumstances, and it’s next to impossible to embarass me in front of my family, but I was well beyond embarassed at that point. When mom got off grandma’s lap and sat next to my aunt, asking for the third time where her sweater had come from and what price she had paid, I knew it was time to go.

Next year, if mom has a “migraine” I’ll just let her sit at home.




26 responses

28 12 2008

Are you kidding me? I didn’t know what to think throughout this entire post. I was laughing at first, thinking it was just like an episode of Sordid Lives, but then sad, thinking, gee, this is his mother! Then I figured you were making the whole thing up. Whatever the case, this is fascinating, and oh so funny, and terribly tragic! I’m sorry your mom is having such a struggle. And I’m sorry you have to deal with it.

This was an outstanding post.

28 12 2008
The Vinyl Villager

Jason, I wish I were making it up. But feel free to laugh, the only way I can deal with it is to try and find some humor in it. Thanks!

28 12 2008
Mental P Mama

I am so sorry. But at the same time, I keep thinking we have a new David Sedaris on our hands….well done.

28 12 2008
The Incredible Woody

Poor Villager! I think Mama’s doctor really should be turned in to the medical board. May you find continued strength to deal with this situation. I’m just glad to hear that her ‘gentleman friend’ hasn’t killed her.

At least she liked the sweater. She could have been repeating that she thought it looked like vomit or something!

28 12 2008
Little Miss

Oh wow. I don’t know what to say to that. Sitting up on your grandma’s lap? Wow. I hope you had some fun and enjoyment with the rest of your family, at least.

28 12 2008

Substitute dementia for addiction and you have my every day. But she does have one point: Unless she is getting pills off the internet (and what with only getting two channels, I doubt she has ‘puter skills) or has some other unethical source, she is probably getting all of this from her doctor. Or she has multiple doctors on the hook. But someone is allowing for her to really juice up big time. And with her personality, she’s happy because an authority is at the switch “telling” her it’s all good.

On the other hand VV, excellent post. “Enjoyed” the read, if you know what I mean.

And where did she get that sweater? (sorry…. : ) )

28 12 2008

I felt like I was reading instead of watching an episode of A&E’s “Intervention.” You mother may need medication for depression or anti-anxiety but it sounds like she is definitely over medicated, if not addicted to pain meds. Someone needs to investigate. Is she getting all of her pills from one doc or is she shopping around with complaints and excuses all over town getting many scripts from many docs.

I started out reading this and chuckling… but by the end – I was concerned. Sometimes we can laugh off these things – sometimes we have to do something. I hope with some support from your other family members who also want the best for your mom that somehow you can all sort it out and try to help her – even if she can’t see she needs help.

Hugs to you.

28 12 2008
Big Hair Envy

There is one bright spot in this sad, sad tale……at least she is pleasant when over-medicated. It could very easily go the other way. Bless her heart.

She climbed in Grandma’s lap? Really?

28 12 2008
Queen of Planet Hotflash

we are truely kindred spirits
Bless your loving and kind heart
The shit we put up with for those we love

28 12 2008

Well, I’m at a loss as to what to say…torn between several possible responses…do I go the sympathy route – “I’m so sorry you had to deal with that, your mom is obviously over-medicated, and her doctor is horrible.” But so many have already said this, it seems a moot point 🙂
Or do I go the other way – “You were absolutely insistent that she go even though she has made it abundantly clear she didn’t want to, so you deserve what you got!”
Then there is also the route that says ” Why does she take so much medication? Is it due to sincere pain, or is it an escape? If it’s an escape, what is she trying to escape from..?” But since NO ONE else went this way, it must be politically incorrect or impolite or something 🙂
But I think I’ll instead go with – I hope you had a good holiday, in spite of your not-so-good-day with your relatives. It sucks that your Mom chose to act that way, but I applaud your continued efforts to include her in your life & make her feel that she is welcome & wanted.
If you ever fell the need for some magical “support” or help, just lemme know. I hope you have a great New Years!

28 12 2008

Bless your heart honey! I kept waiting for the post to end, “With that I called an ambulance and checked her into the hospital”.
I think you need to talk to her doctor, if not go to a few appointments with her and make sure the doctor realizes what he is dealing with, in case he hasn’t noticed.

29 12 2008
The Vinyl Villager

You’re all too sweet! I didn’t expect such excellent advice, but of course I should have.

To answer some of the questions: I’ve no doubt that she has some REAL issues that require medication but perhaps she has become reliant on them to the point of abusing them. My feeling is that she is probably good at manipulating her doctors. (Is it doctor shopping if you have a regular medical doctor, a psychiatrist, a gyno, a dermatologist, an eye doctor, an oral surgeon, and God knows what else?) I think she spends half the month overmedicating, and the other half going through withdrawal until its time to refill, and that’s why she is always “sick”. Calls will be made to her doctor(s) as soon as I can find out who they are. I’ve heard that doctors can call patients in for a “pill count” if they suspect they are overdoing it.

It was a great holiday in spite of her shenanigans! And the sweater came from Penny’s…on sale for $19.99. LOL!

29 12 2008
Noe Noe Girl

VV Babe, next year…come spend Christmas with me!

29 12 2008

This post made me laugh, then rendered me utterly speechless…

Thank God you didn’t have to go out in public with her. I’m sure that being around family with her was more than enough. It does sound like she’s got more than one doctor’s script in her purse.

And I thought my own mother was the craziest of them all… Now I know better.

29 12 2008
The Vinyl Villager

Noe Noe–can you send me a copy of any prescriptions you currently take before I accept that invitation? LOL

Liz–she has to carry a separate bag to keep all of her pills in so you’re probably right.

29 12 2008

I, hereby, verify that every single thing that V V wrote is TRUE! Every last word of it. Don’t ask….I just know for fact.

V….the day after my b-day, YM and “insert name of current friend” here showed up with no warning. YM came in holding something out to give to me. It was a cig cellophane wrapper of misc. pills….red, red/white, solid white pills/capsules. “Here, honey”, she said. “I love you and just can’t stand to let you have no sick headache!”.
I said, “Thank you”. WTH was I suppose to do? And, THERE was TPKen, sitting there was a pissed off look. Like he thought that this was a normal event for me or something. Long story. We’ll talk about it later.
Anyway, as soon as she left, I threw it all in the trash. I must admit, though, that I kinda regretted it when my head started pounding again later that night. Who knows… might have had some good stuff in it. LOL

BUT….she was seriously trying to help me get rid of a puking headache. Bless her heart….she really meant to do a good thing. And, I do appreciate the good intentions that she had.

30 12 2008

This was funny, but not….cos as soon as I started reading this, I knew EXACTLY how it was gonna go – cos this is my mother. Cept mine has attention grabbing tendencies which invovle ‘accidentally’ taking one too many pills and us having to call an ambulance (one of many times) when I was 18 and I had friends staying over.

Luckily this Christmas she behaved. She turned up, although over an hour late, dresssed appropriately. The worst she did was not get my dad a present, which hurt his feelings.

Sigh. I feel ya.

30 12 2008
The Vinyl Villager

TPB–when I screwed up my rotator cuff I was at her house complaining about it and she gave me who knows what to “help”. Stupid me assumed it was advil or something until I was flat out with a cold compress on my face.

GYL–are we long lost siblings??

30 12 2008

Wow… where are you from? Sounds like we may have some common family. I just went through something like that with my aunt who is only three years older than me. It is very hard. It wasn’t until she was fired from a job she had just taken after a few days that she realized what all of us had been telling her was true. I told her yes you do slur your words and you take too many meds. I wish you the best. It will take tough love or she may overdose herself.


30 12 2008

OMG I can so see your mother doing this. God I feel for you. At least get video next time. 😉

31 12 2008
The Vinyl Villager

Coco–thanks for stopping by! Let’s hope it doesn’t come to an O.D.

Sadie! How are you? Yes, I should have asked for a video camera from Santa…

31 12 2008

Video cam…not a good idea. Once she found out that she was being taped, who knows what she might do??!!!

31 12 2008
The Vinyl Villager

TPB—very good point! Particularly if she brings along the fella of the day. Which, thankfully, she didn’t this year.

31 12 2008

I’m doing well sweetie. 🙂 Thanks for asking. But come on video tape would allow us constant hours of entertainment. 🙂

31 12 2008
The Vinyl Villager

Sadie…and knowing the sort of sickos that are out there, probably a decent income too. LOL!

5 01 2009
Jenn @ Juggling Life

Just after the Christmas my sister acted like this she was arrested for prescription drug fraud. No joke.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: