My adored mother-in-law has been through a really rotten patch. It’s been building ever since the death of my father-in-law several years ago. It was a terrible time: there he was, wilting away at home, and she was in the hospital having this awful heart surgery. She was too ill to even attend his funeral. Just the worst. After that, there was the tragic, but startlingly swift, development of her ebay addiction. So that she was, seemingly overnight, buying things like forty-seven pairs of white satin jazz shoes, in assorted sizes. Or, dozens of those velvet fingers they put the rings on at those cheap jewelry stores in the mall, so that when you laid them all out together it looked like hundreds of people were behaving very rudely. After that, things took a darker turn, with a slow shutting down of her joy and energy, until everything culminated a few months ago in a really lousy couple of months where I believe she sort of drove her inner sedan into the drainage ditch of despair and hopelessness. It was the saddest thing I ever saw in my whole life, and absolutely nothing about it was funny.
But now, let me tell you what is funny.
With the help of some mountain-flattening anti-depressants, she’s Doris Day.
She’s laughin’ and kickin’ and doin’ everything but the Black Bottom, and life is one grand sweet song again.
AND this sweet old Catholic lady, a lady who once told me that Ronald Reagan caught Alzheimer’s from thinking too hard, has discovered Eastern theology, and New Age spiritualism.
This is how she spends her time now. Reading Kahil Gabran and The Secret and all of these Oprah-y books about how to unleash your inner power, like it’s a dog or something. So that now she telephones me, and says things like, "Robert, are you aware that your third eye is located behind your pituitary gland?" Or, "Darlin’, when you’re lookin’ for my birthday present, honey, try to get me somethin’ in purple. I understand it’s a very good Chakra color."
Or, she puts strange Catholic spins on these New Age concepts, for instance: "You see darlin’, in order to have anything you want, you’ve simply got to appeal to your upper mind to intervene with your middle mind, so they can intercede on your behalf with your lower mind. And your lower mind’s happy to oblige your middle mind, because they just love one another, and everybody seems to think the world of the upper mind anyway."
I think she’s praying to have her ebay account restored.
Anyway, I’m so grateful Mom’s been revived by something. Anything. Who’s complaining.
But the other day I did invite her to lunch, and she told me, "Oh, darlin’, I don’t know about that. I’m not sure I’m feelin’ up to goin’ out."
And I said, "Well, you see, Mom. It’s simple. All you’ve got to appeal to your upper mind to intercede with your stomach."
And I didn’t even mind that she didn’t find that funny at all.