My mom used to have a lot of friends. She was an incredibly social and vibrant woman, and always had something going on… church, lunch with friends, her prayer group or giving Communion to the sick… mom was always on the go. She loved inviting people over for dinner or lunch, and even though her husband was more introverted, she managed to get him out of his shell to cook one of his payayas or a pork roast for our guests. My mom kept a book with the names, numbers and birthdates of everyone. I don’t know where that book is anymore. Somewhere. Lost.
Now, my heart breaks for her because she no longer has her circle of friends….. she doesn’t remember most of them. And her friends from church, they smile and utter a few words, “We love you Margarita,” or just look at both of us with pity in their eyes. What can they do?
And then there are her behaviors.
It occured to me that I may be her only friend. She counts on me for a ride to church. She counts on me to take her to Great Clips for her haircut. She counts on me to answer the phone when she calls to invite me (over and over and over and over and over and over and over) to her house for dinner or just to live with her. She counts on me to walk her up the aisle at church so she can invite Father Andres to the house for dinner….. yet again.
She counts on me. She trusts me. She needs me.
Yes, she has my father, but she knows that he’s her husband and primary caregiver. And I suppose everyone needs a friend—that one person who you can confide in (like when she whispers in the phone that there’s a strange woman in the house… our cleaning lady Gloria). And now I’ve left her. I’ve been gone nearly 18 days. Still not home, even as I type this. I won’t see her for a few days………….. I can see when she calls and mom hasn’t called in about a week. I wonder if she’ll recognize me? I wonder if she’s all but forgot who I am. I have no idea what she retains or if the image of my face is a blur….. that person…. that girl. I know her, but can’t place her.