I will talk about my Mom and who she was as a person at some point in the future but for now it is just too soon. I’m too busy just trying to avoid things that remind me of the stuff we used to do together, like this weekends upcoming Crossroads Of The West Gun Show at the Cowpalace here in San Francisco. For some reason, one of the gardening shows that runs on KSFO on the weekends was adverting the annual 2017 Orchid Show usually held in February at Fort Mason. I started making plans to attend that in her honor since she never missed it except for one year when she got sick with an abdominal adhesion. I was right by her side then too. Then the Orchid Show promoter gave the starting date of the two day show as being in February. I was so disappointed. I had my hopes built up by a re-run. I had made plans to finish my soft pastel of an Orchid hanging from a branch to bring to the show on a big art clipboard, perhaps to sell or perhaps to talk about. Ma never saw it so I intended it to be an homage to her. Alas, I guess I’ll have to wait until next year, that is if I haven’t been murdered as well by then.
Yeah, it was kind of a family tradition she had every year for just the two of us, the only family each of us had. First, we we would go to the Orchid Show in February, then to the Oakland Museum’s annual White Elephant Sale in March for her birthday (I didn’t like it and usually had to be drug along) and finally to the Crossroads Of The West Gun Show which ran about every month or so. Really, all three events were a kind of birthday celebration for her, I had become bored with them long ago but continued for her sake, she enjoyed them since they also gave us a chance to do something together. I’m beginning to choke up as I’m writing this, which is one reason I’ve been avoiding writing about her. It is with great effort that I keep myself distracted and busy to avoid becoming sad, or angry. Thank God I have my Lord and Savior Jesus to fall back on, without his comforts and assurances I just don’t know what I would do. Thanks to Him and The Father (and THE Comforter The Holy Spirit) I’m able to carry on knowing that one day I will see her again. Thank you father, thank you Jesus and thank you Holy Spirit. Thank you so much…
We usually took Bay Area Paratransit to these events with me as her attendant. I didn’t like traveling this way though as we had been abandoned at the Fort Mason Orchid show once, they had abandoned her there almost every year yet she continued to put her trust and faith in them. I thought it elder abuse. She was constantly urging me to apply for the “service” for the disabled but I didn’t like them. They would regularly fail to show up for return trips and would leave people stranded, unforgivable in my opinion. She liked them though, she liked all public transportation until I bought her the car. Fulfillment of a promise that I made to her as a child, to buy her a white Cadillac. The Cadillac turned out to be a brown Ford Crown Victoria but it was close enough, she finally had her car. It was the only car she ever owned in her entire life, close enough and she fell in love with it. From that day forward she rarely rode AC Transit nor BART again. Sometimes we would drive by a bus stop and see an old woman waiting in the dark for a bus and she would marvel, “that used to be me before you bought me the car.” At least I can feel good about taking her off public transit for the rest of her life. I hated it and often bought cars that I shouldn’t have to avoid riding bus and BART. I would have bought a car for her long ago but she was always insisting that when she owned a car “it had to be brand new with everything working, you promised me a white Cadillac and I’m still waiting…” “OK Ma, that will probably never happen but it’s your show…” Until her (what I thought to be unreasonable) standards were met, she was content to ride the buses and BART. When I finally got enough money together to buy a car (used of course) that I thought would hopefully measure up, I went ahead and bought it for her birthday from an Auto Return auction. It looked almost new in the interior and body but when I started it up the only gear that worked was reverse. I had to drive it backwards for three very long industrial length blocks all the way to Tech1 auto next to the Ajax Salvage yard for repairs. One week and $900 dollars later ($3,750 total) the car looked good and ran good, it was ready for presentation to ma for her birthday. She was in shock.
I had noticed that the top of the doors were very pointed on top and that if you weren’t careful, could hit you in the face when opening. Well, it was her first day out with the car and we were trying it out, getting all the seat and mirror adjustments right for her tiny little frame, when I cautioned her about the door being a hazard. As I explained she just had this stunned look of wonder and disbelief on her face as she sat behind the wheel, like she just couldn’t believe that this was actually her very own car, the very first and only car that she was ever to fully own, at Seventy One (71) years of age. I went on and on before we left, demonstrating and preaching to her over and over again about how dangerous the car door was when getting in and out, how if you did not consciously hold onto the pointed edge it could catch you right in the face. When we arrived at our destination of Barnes and Nobles in El Cerrito Plaza I had to use the bathroom and again preached to her about being careful about the door. She paid diligent attention to what I said and nodded that she understood. When I came back from the bathroom, Ma was seated in the driver’s seat with a bloody nose and a laceration across her bridge. I said, “Ma, what happened??” Ma said, “I was getting into the driver’s seat and the door hit me in the nose.” I said, “Ma, didn’t I just get finished telling you to be careful about the door because it could hit you in the face??” She sat defiant for a moment looking straight ahead and gripping the steering wheel with both hands, then angrily said, “I want you to take back this defective car and exchange it for another one tomorrow!” All I could do was shake my head. I then asked her if she wanted to go to the hospital but she refused and gripped the steering wheel even tighter, wiggled in her seat and said with a defiant voice, “Okay, come on Linda (her name), you’re going to have to learn this big car…” or something to similar effect, I don’t remember exactly but anyway, she was determined to own that car and show it who was boss. I was shocked at her vehemence and a little scared, I hadn’t seen her like that many times before, you know, really determined to get back on that horse. Oh, she had been in a horrific car accident when she was a young woman that almost killed her, I think she may have been having a flashback. Wow, this is the very first time that thought occurred to me. Anyway, she slammed the car in gear and gunned the engine. Again, I was flabbergasted.
I never understood how she tolerated public transit so nobly. To her, there was absolutely no shame whatsoever in catching the bus nor in riding BART. She had an incredibly organized library of every Bay Area transit system’s schedules and routes, from County Connection to AC Transit to West Cat to BART. All the different county transit systems were organized by date and number in little boxes, she would make special trips just to collect them.
As a side note, that was another thing about ma, if there was a pamphlet or brochure or any kind of paper information wherever she went, those pamphlets and brochures were coming home with her. She would stand in front of a rack of them and meticulously collect each and every one in duplicate, sometimes in triplicate and if that wasn’t enough, she would have me collect a complete set as well. That was one reason for the hoarding problem, I reluctantly threw away so many pamphlets and periodicals from decades ago that were neatly bound with rubber bands advertising places that had long since gone out of business yet, their advertisements had been lovingly curated by her. She even put the date and year of acquisition on each one, some with a little note inside as to it’s relevance. Probably the only ones left in existence anywhere, even the former proprietors. Whenever we would go somewhere, I had started getting into the habit of loudly announcing that we didn’t need any advertisements nor brochures as we began to leave, while she stood mesmerized in front of whatever rack of them there were. It became a running joke for us.
Well, I had been avoiding doing this until I got a little stronger and I was correct, it was rough. A couple attacks of nausea and some tears shed but, if I don’t write her story, who will? She had wanted to write a book about her life, about growing up in Stilwell Oklahoma and Haskell/Wyndot Indian Boarding Schools, having to wear flour sack dresses because they were so poor (she got teased by the other children), having to take care of her younger sisters (one, Arlene, developmentally disabled) at the age of five, walking for miles at night through the woods to Grannies house, carrying the one sister on her back and holding the hand of the other (Lena), all of them in tears hoping that they weren’t eaten by the Wolves that hunted at night. About working as a waitress in some of the roughest bars in town, often being the only bouncer yet maintaining the love and dedication of her patrons. She would often tell me that when she quit one bar because the owner was demanding sex, that all of his customers would follow her to her new place of employment. That was how well she was liked. She never had Social Security taxes taken out by the way, which caused problems when trying to retire. About all the men and boyfriends she had, some for fun, some for love and some out of mutual necessity, she had many stories about them. About the relationship she had with her parents before they died, she loved them both dearly even though they had horribly abused and abandoned her as a child, finally lovingly reconciled in adult years. About how she raised me as a single, older mother on welfare (a baby of mixed ethnicity since my father was black) and all of the difficulties that come with AFDC/Food Stamp poverty.
She loved to dance, sew, cook and she loved me, her screwed up son who did weird things and was constantly in some sort of trouble. Damn, I miss her so much. She was a good person throughout her life and never so much as got a parking ticket until recently (because of me of course), she was also Christian.
My mother had a pretty bad learning disability and was probably somewhat developmentally disabled. She had three full sisters and brothers, two of which were “retarded”, Arlene being deaf as well. I suspect that her mother (my Grandmother) Sallie may have damaged my mother’s brain during the child abuse that featured beatings until unconscious and whippings until blood was drawn. I really think my Grandma gave my mom some mild brain damage. You could kind of tell that she was a little slow sometimes, other times she was sharp as a tack. It was weird, it kind of came and went. Some things she was very swift to pick up on and understand, more so than others, and then some things were hard for her to understand. She did drink a lot until the age of 46 when she quit “cold turkey” but, I don’t think that had a lot to do with it. As she got into her senior years it just became expected that faculties were failing and camouflaged what I knew to have been there long before. I think she may have been employable but by the time I was out of the house, she was near retirement age anyway.
A lifetime full of nothing but deprivation and hardship, and then to be murdered in her senior years by some piece of crap Satanic Gang Stalkers. Well, at least she if finally free now. I am so sorry Ma, I wish life had been better for you but am so glad you are free at last and back with the family you so faithfully loved, she missed them so much. Bittersweet, bittersweet for me…
Well, there are so many more stories to tell but I’m feeling really bad right now, really heartsick. I can’t take any more reminiscing and am going to have to go distract myself now with some activity or another. Maybe I’ll go talk to one of my crazy neighbors, their lives are almost as screwed up as mine and can serve that purpose nicely. On top of it all, it’s raining outside, it was raining when she died too. The old Indians say that when someone dies and it rains, that the deceased went to Heaven. Again, bittersweet. Bittersweet for me today.
P.S. I don’t want you reading this and getting the wrong idea, I still firmly believe in fighting for what is right and just, even though the price paid has been the murder of my mother. My mother was murdered by someone at the behest of her landlord, because I threatened the landlord with administrative action over the conditions of my mother’s building. My mother was due for a Section Eight habitability inspection and the new Latina landlord was doing a per-inspection. Due to my mother’s hoarding, every time one of these landlord per-inspections had occurred, I was blamed for not helping my mother clean up. As with most hoarders, my mother allowed me to touch nothing in her house. I made the mistake of trying to clean up when she was in the hospital for her adhesion and threw away three items that I thought to be trash, a two colanders and some small empty cardboard boxes. I never heard the end of it. After that, anytime she couldn’t find something she would adamantly accuse me of having thrown it away. It was ridiculous. I should have known better because the Gang Stalkers in the building had been entering her apartment and “Gas Lighting” her, ever since I got her the car in fact. My problem with the Gang Stalkers had transferred to her and they were now messing with the both of us. Well I told my mother that her house being in such disarray with clutter was a vulnerability, her Achilles Heel and a vector for management (Gang Stalkers) to use for attack. I warned her that she could legitimately be evicted for keeping a junky house and that I could possibly be charged with neglecting an elder. After all that I had been through, and all the attacks exploiting every possible vulnerability, I sincerely believed this not only possible but imminent. You don’t know how much we had both been through. It got so bad at one point my mom filed a burglary complaint with the San Pablo Police and put handwritten signs up chastising the perpetrators. Well, I told her “Ma, I will help you clean up, all you have to do is tell me what to do. I know that when the manager comes in to inspect, she is going to be saying “”What about your Son, your Son? Can’t he help you clean up??”” If that happens, I am going to defend myself.” Sure enough, those were almost the first words out of the manager’s mouth when she began to inspect. I sensed that this was a wicked woman and interrupted her insinuations concerning me by informing her that I knew State building codes and that my mom’s building had a lot of code violations. I also told her that I knew the City’s building code inspector and would pay him a visit with some of those violations. I did this in an attempt to back her off both me and my mom, in my mind, I was defending us both against the Gang Stalkers. My mom heard the things that I was saying but did not stop me, she had done similar with previous landlords of the building in the past as well. The new landlady listened to me intently but said little, her only response was some veiled threat with a deadpan face that I had seen on one other psychopath before, then she left. Later that day the Section Eight Housing inspector came and completed his inspection. He did not indicate whether my mom passed or not as they never do, you find that out from the landlord. The very next day at exactly 7:30 pm in the evening is when my mother had her massive stroke while watching TV, I was on the other side of the room on my laptop.
She had been sitting quietly on the couch drinking the cup of coffee that I made her and watching ET, one of her favorite TV programs. All of a sudden she said “My head hurts.” I looked over at her and she had a slight frown on her face. A few seconds later I heard her both vomit and belch at the same time (will have to continue later, out of time)