"Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown." William Shakespeare
It’s my 43rd birthday
Or 44th year as dad always says.
Yesterday, I was Emeril, prepping food.
No one will notice that mom is too sick to prepare meals.
Everyone knows Dad doesn’t cook.
I am Martha Stewart frantically cleaning.
Time is running out.
I am a drill sergeant barking orders to my partner and father.
Family is coming over for my birthday lunch.
The haste continues and I ponder why I am jumbled inside.
"Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown."
We are all actors in this play, disguising the chaos. I quickly cover-up numerous discharge summaries, medication information sheets, various instruction lists for medical equipment, dad’s truck registration (shouldn’t this be in the truck?), someone has cataracts, piles of bills (have they been paid?), unopened mail, endless laundry….The Home Health Aide calls. Mom said earlier she wanted a shower.
The Home Health Aide can only come at 12:30 and family is arriving at 1.
Mom struggles between her needs and her facade.
I wonder, how long has it been since she showered? And why does her shower depend on someone else’s timeline? I soften, I need to be her daughter now. I convince her by saying I will ask family to come at 1:30.
Change is constant in chaos.
Doesn’t matter. Family comes at 12:45ish. Who’s car is in the driveway? The Home Health Aide I answer. Who’s car is in the driveway? The Home Health Aide I answer. Mom wanted a shower, I state. Who’s car is in the driveway? The question rings again as I run backstage to shower.
Authentic Henrietta emerges.
I fight her back down.
Now is not the time.
I emerge from the shower and dress for my final act: birthday girl.
I blow out my candles wishing my brothers wouldn’t leave me carrying this. I am strong but it’s exhausting. Lies are heavy. I am carrying overpacked suitcases that get heavier year after year.
Us siblings united would have superpowers, like the wonder twins.
I’m gumby worn down by twisting to pretend everything’s fine. That mom isn’t sick and dad is in perfect health. Dad is the strong one. The protector. He can’t be dizzy. He couldn’t have had mini strokes, heart valve issues or....
Is this normal?, I wonder. Hedging to fool ourselves into thinking we are shielding?
Isn’t there more comfort in truth? And the hidden gifts of allowing loved ones to aid, comfort and safeguard?
I’m casting myself for a new part.
This one has too many costume changes.
I’ve been stuffing these suitcases way too long.
Time to write a new play.
Writers block sets in.