“I was just speechless. I’d seen a lot of TV where people would get down on their knees and scream, “Noooooooo!!!” when something as tragic as this happened, but I didn’t feel like that was the appropriate response.”
Life is like a movie based on a book: horrible.
My name is Erik. I’m 4279 days and 11 hours and 23 minutes old (at least in World of Warcraft), and 7201 days, six hours, and 54 minutes old otherwise, a purebred 90’s kid who was only in the 90’s for four years, but it still somewhat counts. I live in the deep, dark lair of my parents’ basement, trapped until I find a job.
Unfortunately, my job search has been hopeless since apparently, college degrees and less hostility are required for most of them. They always tell you, “Oh, we won’t hire anyone who yells at our customers for buying Star Wars Episode I on DVD,” or something along those lines, even though it’s only second nature to me. Some people just don’t understand that everybody’s special, and that I deserve to be hired for that. Unlike those corporate stooges who decide to ruin childhoods by rebooting old franchises, trying to make them hip and edgy for those who are, well, how do I put this lightly… unfortunate enough to have been born in the 2000’s and later.
After a while of things like this and trying out three different jobs about a year ago, I decided that a basement wasn’t so bad, and I’d rather like to be trapped there. Anything I needed, my mother would get for me. That is, until a few weeks ago.
My family was what I’d consider perfect. My mom let me do what I wanted. I didn’t have a dad, and yet, I never needed one. Mom always told me he left after a big fight before I was born. So I was always very close to my mother. She’d buy things for me, drive me everywhere, and get me anything I ever needed.
Unfortunately, she’d been acting strange lately. She started forgetting my name; she lost her car keys, and they ended up in the freezer; she got lost a block away from me… so I decided to venture into the outside and find out what was happening with her. We went to the doctor, and after a depressing 40 minutes, the doctor came to me with a depressing look on his face.
“I’m sorry,” he sighed. “But your mother has Alzheimer’s.”
I was just speechless. I’d seen a lot of TV where people would get down on their knees and scream, “Noooooooo!!!” when something as tragic as this happened, but I didn’t feel like that was the appropriate response. I just turned away and sat back down in the waiting area to think. The doctor told me what to do and how to take care of her, but I didn’t listen. I was just thinking about all the things she’d done for me, and how she loved me, and now it was all gone.
She’ll probably forget about me eventually, and I’ll have to take care of her.
I finally snapped out of it when the doctor asked me, “Do you have a job?”
“No, I don’t,” I replied.
The doctor had a somewhat surprised look, but he tried to hide it from me. Most people are surprised when they find out my mother has been working to support both herself and me into her late 60’s even though I’m an adult. I’ve become used to it, though I don’t really care what they think anyway. They don’t live my life!
“I recommend you find a job soon, then,” the doctor remarked. “I don’t think your mother can work in her condition anymore. After all, somebody needs to pay the bills.”
Paying the bills — that frightened me. It seemed so complicated, so many deductions and adding things and expenses. I had no idea what to do. I’d already tried and failed at being a clerk, I got through a month of law school before I dropped out, and apparently, being extremely opinionated doesn’t make you a registered critic. I could never find a job, let alone pay bills. I was stumped on that. Eventually, Mom finally came out of the doctor’s office, and we walked home slowly while I thought about my options. What could I do for her?
The doctor gave me a prescription and told me to get her meds from a pharmacy once a week. I had no idea where a pharmacy was, so I decided first on my list was to get her to a pharmacy. I used my phone to look for some nearby, but all of them had four and a half out of five stars or less. I knew from experience that anything in media under five stars was horrible trash, so, using my best judgement, I found a five-star one, ten towns over in Springfield. The only problem was, I didn’t know how to drive.
“Hey, Mom?” I asked. “Can I borrow your car keys?”
“Who are you, and why do you want them?” she replied with fear in her eyes.
What could I tell her? She forgot all about me. She was scared of me. I’d never felt like this before; my own mother had forgotten me. Maybe she’d forgotten my name before, but never my entire existence!
I tried to explain to her, “I’m your son!”
But she kept saying she didn’t have a son. Every time, she wouldn’t even let me finish saying anything. She just kept accusing me of being a criminal and a liar. I couldn’t stand it anymore, and I slapped her.
At that moment, it was like everything went silent. Every human, animal, and even inanimate object felt like it was watching us in shock and fear. That man just slapped an old lady! Probably his own mother! What a monster! I didn’t even know what I was doing, but all the rage and anger I had been building up since finding out that my mother had Alzheimer’s, and now I had to pay bills and take responsibility for once in my life, and work, and be an adult… It all just came out horribly, and I released it on my own mother. My only family.
“I – I’m sorry, Mom.”
She just looked at me, innocently.
“I remember you now, Erik,” She said. “But you’re not my son.” She sighed.
She walked away. I didn’t know what to say to her or what to do. Should I walk with her? Should I go away for a while? I didn’t know. But I did know I needed to take care of her.
I went to the bus stop and waited for the bus to Springfield to arrive. Maybe she’d forget about this. I mean, if she forgot about me, she could definitely forget about the incident. I could even surprise her with her meds when I got home. The bus finally came, and I got on. After two hours, I was finally in Springfield. I asked around for directions and eventually, after an hour of searching (though 45 minutes of that was eating dinner in a cheap restaurant), I finally found it. I went in and was astonished to see that so many items not related to medicine were in a medicine store!
“I have to come here more often,” I said to myself.
But with Mother on the mind, I tried to ignore the figures of Star Wars characters and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle plushies to get to the medicine area.
“Hey, I need Alzheimer’s meds. Here’s a prescription. I need them now, please!” I told the pharmacist.
“I’m sorry,” the Pharmacist replied. “But you need to put in an order first, sir.”
I started to get angry. “What?!” I said, gritting my teeth. “I spent three hours trying to get here and find your stupid freaking pharmacy, and I can’t even get meds?!”
The pharmacist just looked at me in shock. “Please leave, or I’m calling the cops,” she ordered.
I didn’t want to get in trouble, so I left after that.
After delays on the bus ride, I got back at midnight, expecting to see Mom. I needed to apologize to her, but when I got there, she was gone. I looked all around the house for her, but she wasn’t there. Just emptiness. I ran outside only to see her at the end of the road by our house, sitting on a bench overlooking the ocean. I walked over to her. She was staring vacantly into the sky.
“Are you lost, Mom?” I asked.
“No, I just needed to come here and think, sir.” It was horrible! Hearing my only parent, one who had taken care of me for my entire life, refer to me as sir! Like she didn’t know me!
“Listen, Mom, I’m sorry about what happened earlier. I was under shock, and I overreacted and hit you. I’ve never had to take care of anyone before, and now, out of the blue, I have to suddenly get a job and become an adult. But I promise I will take good care of you and learn how to support you. I’ll build a resumé, I’ll try every job I can think of, and I’ll make you proud, Mom!” I proudly stated. “But first, can I ask for your forgiveness for all these years of having to take care of me?”
She stared into the ocean, the waves slowly rolling in and out while she thought. I was praying she’d forget the slap, that we could start all over again fresh, that we could have that happy ending.
Then, she spoke. “Of course I forgive you, you’re my son! But why do you want forgiveness? You never did anything.”
I was shocked. I thought it would be great to not deal with that, but I realized that a part of her was gone; part of her life was completely gone! I started to cry. I hugged her lightly, and we stared out into the sky, awaiting the dawn of a new day.