Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Southern Comfort - Part One

I traveled with my two younger brothers, Golden Child and Baby, to see our Omi. The last time the three of us were in the same car, I don't think I had a drivers license. We three are different people. We do different things. We live different lives.

Golden Child is the peacemaker. He wants everyone to get along. He wants everything to be fun and long as everyone does it his way. He is also full of crap. I watched him this weekend chat up everyone from waitresses to rehab aides, then turn and snicker about them behind their backs. What a guy.

Baby is the big, silent type. He says little, preferring to watch the world from a distance and not get involved. New people and new situations make him uncomfortable. He's not afraid to tell you that. Trust me.

We took my car because it's the newest and most reliable. Plus, I knew I'd never be stuck for a ride or scared to death because someone was driving under the influence. I'm just funny that way. The drive down was uneventful (except for my speeding ticket!). We stopped as often as needed so Baby could smoke and we could all stretch our legs.

I left my self-righteous, judgemental, big sister act, at home. I was determined that there would be no friction between us. I was going to simply roll with the punches.

After checking in at the camp ground, yes camp ground, and setting up our tent we drove to the rehab center where our Omi has been staying for several months. She was moved from the assisted living facility that she has come to love and she is NOT happy about it. Can you blame her?

I walked in and posed at the foot of her bed. GC followed and finally Baby stuck his head around the door frame.

She started to cry.

Then GC started to cry.

Then I was crying.

Baby's eyes watered and turned red and he sniffled.

Omi looked terrible. A nurse brought in half of a ham sandwich and asked her to try to take a few bites. It was then that we learned she hadn't been eating. Oi. GC fed her every bit of that sandwich, forcing sips of water between. He's pushy that way.

We stayed for a little over an hour, presenting her with roses and a picture frame with photo's of our families inserted. She cried some more. We promised we'd be back in the morning and hoped that she would sleep well.

Heading back to the camp ground, my brothers commented on how she looked, how the place smelled, how horrible it was. They were shocked. They had no idea what to expect, but I did. I've been in those places before and seen the desolate elderly, propped up in wheelchairs, staring into to nowhere. Those places always have a certain smell, there isn't much you can do about it.

I pointed out that it was clean and well staffed.

They didn't' believe me, so I let it go.

The fire was built, the beer cans opened and I poured salsa into a bowl. They didn't offer me a beer, which was fine because I'm not much of a drinker. We sat around the campfire, munching our hot dogs and talking about the past.

Two pints of Southern Comfort appeared - it was going to be a long night.

But two things happened that I hadn't expected. Baby's tongue loosened up and he talked. Really and truly talked. He talked about his marriage of thirteen years, he talked about his daughter, he described his job. Pride rang in his voice and I listened. I asked questions. I laughed in all the right places. It was the first time in years that the two of us have had a real conversation. Thank you Southern Comfort.

The other thing that happened was Golden Child stopped being so negative. He laughed a little easier and didn't take a single shot at Baby or me.

As I crawled into my sleeping bag I thought about these two men who are my little brothers. They are haunted by demons who give them little rest, but they are both nice men. We share very few things in common, except for a stubborn streak a mile wide and genetics. Yet, here we were, sleeping on the hard ground, waiting for the morning so we could visit with our beloved Omi.

They find comfort in alcohol, I found mine a long time ago in Jesus.

As the silence settled around us, Baby called out from his tent, "G'night Johnboy, G'night Mary Ellen."

I smiled and closed my eyes. Nothing had truly changed.

Up next: Rain showers, a seedy bar, and a revelation.


Patti said...

you painted a true picture of all siblings. well done.

Island Rider said...

Very well written. I can see a good story coming out of this experience.

Roo said...

There is just something about nursing homes. I would never go there if it weren't for that fact that I've had loved ones that I needed to visit.

Good for GC for getting Omi to eat that sandwich.

Can't wait to hear about the rest of the trip.