In Search of a Honky Tonk

Whew. It’s been three months (almost) since we moved to the new house. For three months, I’ve felt as though I’ve simply been trying to survive. And I finally feel like I can take a deep breath without threat of an emergency looming.

The first two and a half months were filled with tears. From Mom. Every. Single. Day. The gut-wrenching, sobbing, face-swelling tears. She hated the new house that she had declared we had to move into. She missed Dad. She missed her friends in Winston-Salem. She didn’t think the house was tall enough, and began plans to build a third floor. She hated the yard. As soon as her caretaker would go to the bathroom during the work day, she would sneak into my office, crying hysterically. Her doctor asked me if perhaps she were pulling at my heartstrings. Perhaps?

Even though Mom has Alzheimer’s, and asks me the same question multiple times in a row, I’ve been hesitant to say anything that could be misleading. In my mind I wondered, “What if this were the one time when her memory worked?” I finally realized that reality is fleeting, and it’s better to say what works in the moment rather than what might be considered the absolute truth.

Recently, she’s created the reality that Dad bought this house for us before he died. That this was where he wanted us to be. I’ve nodded and said, “Yes, he thought we’d be happy here.” And I do believe, if there is a heaven, or if there are souls, that he does believe we would be, or that we are, happy here. Thanks, Dad.

Mom and I spend a lot of time on the front porch in rocking chairs. I’ve had to come to terms that it’s okay not to be productive all the time. It’s been a hard lesson to welcome. We spend hours each evening, just sitting and rocking. Sometimes talking. Sometimes being. As we were sitting, she asked me what time it was. Time is confusing for Mom. I told her it was 5:00. She threw her arms up in the air and shouted, “YES!” I was flabbergasted by this response and asked why she was so excited that it was 5:00. She explained, “After 5:00, we’re allowed to go anywhere!” I nodded, wondering why we couldn’t go wherever we wanted before 5:00. She followed up with, “Do you know of any good honky tonks around here?” I stared at my God-fearing, church-going, stricter-than-all-get-out punishing mother in awe.

“I’m not sure I do, Mom. But I suppose we can find one.”