Mom? Are You There? A Story of the Grotesque….

One of the most striking things about my mom’s disease is her inability to understand emotion, especially the most obvious kind — sadness.
After coming to terms with my past in New York Sunday morning, I drove to my mom’s house in tears to take her to church.

When feeling incredibly depressed, my instinct, mind you, is to avoid God and sort of house of worship at all costs. Seriously. My salvation is more spiritual in nature…. I’m more of the watch-romantic-comedies-and-eat-lots-of-pizza-and-drink-wine school of thought.

That, and I have a theory that humanity is nothing more than a telenovela for God. I wonder if he TiVo’s my life?

OK. The backstory.
It was poetic. A brief reunion that seemed promising. Hearts had changed, feelings were still there and incredibly strong. I told only a few people and it was my When Harry Met Sally moment. Was my happy ending really in sight? I wanted to jump down the rabbit hole with this man. In fact, I had decided to take the plunge — to follow Alice  in Wonderland and see where I would end up.
I took the red pill.
And then I was at my most grotesque.
The funny thing about my mom and her disease, which I am more convinced is Vascular dementia or Multi-infarct dementia, is that she laughs and cries at the most bizarre, fucked up things. When she sees her reflections, she goes from laughter to tears. When we get into my car and Daft Punk or Linkin Park is on, she laughs and  claps her

hands in delight. “Around the World” can have that effect, I suppose.

So on Sunday as I sat in church, overwhelmed and unable to see beyond my hurt, I placed my head on my head on her shoulder and wept. She didn’t react. She didn’t respond to my quiet sobs with consoling words. She sat there reciting the days of the week: Lunes, Martes, Miercoles, Jueves, Viernes… Doctor Andres viene el Sabado! My mom can’t just name a day, she now has to go through the entire week to find the right day. In this case, the day Father Andres would come to the house for lunch. I just wanted my mom to understand and to see that I was in a world of hurt. I wanted her to take pity on me. I looked up at her again and nothing. Not a single physical response. Not a crinkle in her forehead. Not a look of sadness or sympathy for her daughter. And as the tears streamed down my face in the middle of the priest’s monologue about Christmas, I looked into her eyes and told her I was sad.
She didn’t understand. Lunes, Martes, Miercoles, Jueves, Viernes, Sabado, Domingo. Vas a venir el Domingo para la misa?

Yes. I’ll be here next Sunday for church.
She smiled. Satisfied. Now on to other pressing matters… her birdseed and the priest. Despues de la misa, me lleves al fruita para mis gatos.

I wanted her to know. I wanted a lucid moment where she would sympathize with me. Give me a dose of wisdom. Tell me that it would be OK. That I am not damaged or grotesque. That I am OK. So, I tried to tell her what I was sad about. I thought she might get it. I don’t know, maybe the thick fog that envelops her mind would clear for a second and reveal the woman who used to be. My mom.

She didn’t seem to comprehend what I was telling her — that my ex-husband (that’s how she refers to my ex-boyfriend and knows him only as that) was in town and I am sad about him — then, she asked me about him: Where’s that cute boy who I used to live with. The one in that one place. Where you used to live. Far. When you lived in Ecuador. What happened to him? Where is he? Do you have a new man? Doesn’t he love you anymore?
Doesn’t he love me anymore.
KATHY RITCHIE is feeling a touch grotesque today.


  1. My BEAUTIFUL friend Kathy,

    You are such a blessing from God to have in my life. Your words are absolutely touching. You have such gifts, I hope you know that. Although it seems very cruel, God does have a plan for you and I want you to know that I Love You as most people do and you are a spectacular person and you will find “TRUE LOVE” and it will be fantastic!!! You deserve the BEST – do NOT forget that!!! When feeling down, I think of a couple things, cut the rope and let it float, don’t let the turkeys get you down, and last but not least “FUCK EM”.


  2. This blasted disease seems to constantly re-configure everything, from our loved one’s health to the daily routine to the color of the light at the tunnel’s end. As my life mutates, it all seems ever more and more grotesque too. A vicious word, “grotesque”. You’d laid claim to quite a harpy of an idea there. Felice Navidad all the same, from “Ecuador” I guess.

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