August 15th, 2002

Chalkboard

Mom's Upcoming Cancer Surgery and Wanting to Strangle her Secretary

Okay that's it, I am so fucking pissed off and fed up. I just got off the phone with my Mother's horrid secretary Tina, who I have been trying to get along with, and trying to be nice to for years, but around whom I feel perpetually uncomfortable, shamed, and judged. I answered the phone and she told me to tell our broker, who we are going to go see today, to put a huge amount of money in one of the accounts, then I hear my Mom in the background saying, "When is she going to come by?" so I said, "Oh, why doesn't she pick me up?" because this broker is just a few blocks away from my house, and then good ol' sweetie-pie Tina slammed me with, "No! You will come by and pick her up Jacqui. Today is not about YOU! Today is all about HER!" and hung up on me. I was seething and I just can't seem to shake it or let it go, even now I'm wasting all of this precious energy and time on it. I did call her back and told her off as nicely as I could. I got an artificial, half hearted, "Oh well, I apologize," out of her, but I knew she didn't mean it, she was trying to manage me off the phone so she could get on with her day.

She's condescending and insulting to me for no reason. She doesn't understand me, she dislikes me, and she's jealous of me. Although that's not entirely her fault because Mom is really good at instilling a sort of sibling rivalry between anyone she's close to and me. Just think of the Mom in the Prince of Tides and you'll understand what I mean. Mom uses whoever she is with to process every fear, opinion, or judgmental thought, that comes in to her head, without thought for what the ultimate affect of all of this may be. She's extremely judgmental and has no ability to censor anything. She is blunt to the point of being rude, and I am one of her favorite topics of conversation. So if people think ill of me it's to be expected. Eighty year old women do not understand people like me, liberal, vegetarian, nudists who spend vast amounts of money on the rehabilitation of cats, dogs, rats, rabbits, and whatever else comes their way. Mom wants me to put on a good girl society face for her friends, yet undermines me by gabbing about me behind my back. She does the same thing with her secretary. She wants me to be able to work with her secretary when she's gone, and her bankers, and her lawyer, yet she completely undermines me by denying any complicity in the spending I do, and makes it sound like I run mad with her charge cards, without clearing things with her. Whatever truth there may be to an assessment of my being a compulsive-shopping, madcap, zany, animal-collecting, spoiled, spendthrift gal, the bottom line is that I am a good person who loves her mother and deserves to be treated with a certain modicum of decency and respect.

My Mom keeps trying to put me together with her secretary, something I totally, and not totally in a stoney kind of way, but totally as in completely, utterly, totally, yes totally dread. Meeting with Mom's secretary in front of Mom means she will parade all of my expenses in front of us like some kind of freakish financial fashion show...and here we have a charge of one thousand dollars for a...whatever, a purse, a comb, a can of cat food. Whatever it is, she will make it look absurd and play it up for all of the good girl secretary attention she can get from mom. And this is something that neither my mother nor I need to deal with today, one day prior to my mother's lung cancer surgery.

I can't sleep at night because I'm so worried about my Mom's operation. I'm doing everything I can to help her. I just spent three weeks attending to her every need in Hawaii. I just went over and had dinner with her, when Beau and I were exhausted, and having a long leisurely dinner and watching videos of our helicopter trips was just about the last thing we wanted to do. I call her three times a day to check in on her, that's three times a day minimum. I am her friend, the keeper of her history. I am avidly collecting her clothes to build a collection for a show and a book. I am documenting her life. I listen to her endless stories, cherish them, and write every little thing she remembers down. I am videotaping her history. I am showering her with attention and gifts. I am calling doctors for her. I am comforting her. I am truly being present to her needs.

Her secretary shows up once a week, pays her bills, eats her food, does her laundry, gets drunk and hides a bottle of wine behind the fridge, and spends a good part of her time making me look bad to my mom because I spend too much. She is, as her ex husband so colorfully described her to me, a shit stirrer. My mom knows all of the so called "bad" things about me and really does not care, if she did she would do something about it. She knows everything and still she loves me. She's my mother. I'm her daughter. We've had a deep life long familial connection. Who is this woman to pass judgement on me?

I can't believe the predicament I am finding myself in should my Mom leave us. Why didn't I listen to Scott and do something about all of this sooner, get a better secretary, someone who could be more on my side, and a better attorney?. I'm so scared because I'm surrounded by these lazy messed up judgmental people who could give a damn about me.

I have a great big complicated life to run, a life I've been away from for more than a month. I have a little boy starting a new school, two Latin American families, and a carpenter, who are totally dependant on me right now financially for their survival, sixty pets, some of whom are ailing and need a lot of care, phones that aren't working right, a mountain of unanswered mail, e-mail, and phone calls, and a big house full of crap I have to sort through and organize, as we are moving our bedrooms all around.

My life is more than enough for me to try to handle all on it's own and they don't get this. I have a life that is going to be completely subsumed by Mom's medical and personal needs and I know it. I know because I've been here before. Just when my career as an actor was finally gaining some momentum, my mom elected to have radical spinal surgery, a surgery that was a complete failure, and that her recovery from, was a very frightening and uncertain thing. I was her devoted slave doggy daughter for close to six months. It derailed me, completely, my health, my home, my marriage, my life, fell apart in the wake of it.

I am taking care of my Mother the very best I can, I am going to be with her all afternoon and evening, I will be with her all day tomorrow and the next. I am going to be with her every day in the hospital. I will be praying and hoping and running interference for her in every aspect of her life. This is MY mother we are talking about, my ONLY living relative, apart from my little boy, and I am an adopted person. The one person in all the world who wanted me when I was born is facing her mortality in a bigger way than she has every had to face it before, so if this is a little bit about me as well, well then Fuck it, I guess it will just have to be that way. I'm not a saint, but I'm not an asshole either. It is okay for me to be a little scared, a little anxious, a little tired, and a little unable to cope. I am in total existential crisis mode right now and Tina who is going to contribute what, maybe five hours a week to this crisis, is telling me to get off of myself. And my ex-girlfriend's husband, our lawyer, the trustee of everything when my Mother goes, who contributes a total of maybe one hour per week to dealing with us, is telling me to buck up. Yes I will meditate, yes I will turn it over, yes I will have faith and be as positive as my revved up freaked out psyche will allow me, but this is uncharted unfamiliar territory for all of us, and I need a bit of gentle loving care from the people who have accepted the assignment of caring for us, not mean, shaming, nasty, negative crap. Okay, well here I go to deal with all of this truth. Talk to you later, I hope.