Monday, May 14, 2007

the mother of all 1 (yeah, i know...but it was too long)

nikki's bedroom, atl ga, mother's day 2007, 10:03 a.m.

my eyes were feverishly swallowing the last drops of sleep being squeezed out of the morning when a shrilling ring cut through the silence and snatched the cup of slumber away from me. i fell to the floor, dragging the blue cotton sheet with me as i crawled to the phone to answer it.

"hello?" i croaked, my voice a cigarette burn on the ear drums as morning breath hovered like a nuclear cloud around me. i sniffed, cringed, then reached behind me to open up a window.

"hey, nikki?" a male voice inquired.

"oh," i yawned as i gathered the sheet around my naked body and sat down in my computer chair, "hey dad."

"you coming over to cook breakfast?" he asked without preamble.

his words knocked on the door to my conscious, but i was too tired to let them in.

"what?" i responded, imploring his words to let themselves in.

"," he enunciated carefully. i sat there for a minute, finally cracking open the door to my brain just enough for the words to slip in. OH.

"that's's mother's day," i replied slowly.

"uh, YEAH," his sarcasm spat back. i rolled my eyes, my common sense roping in my smart assed retort before it could buck it's way through my teeth.

"then i'll be there," my reply on the tail of another yawn.

"what time will you be here?"

glancing over at the clock on the wall in front of me, i did a mental calculation of the time i would need to get everything done. let's see...

gotta wash my ass
dress my ass
get gas
stop by the west end to pick up a gift and buy cards and THEN
drive to the 'rents house

"uh, give me about an hour." (why yes, your honor. i know i was being a bit optimistic about the time i'd needed, but i swear to you i had the best of intentions...)

"alright. we'll see you in an hour."

three hours later (heh) i pulled up in front of the 'rents house with two pathetic cards and a frown. i had just spent all kinds of time driving down streets with nothing but closed retail stores before i'd broken down and stopped at a grocery store to get cards and flowers. i'd picked up two generic cards from the remaining paltry selection and ended up forgoing the flowers altogether after viewing the bunches of bulbous blossoms bent over like listless lushes they'd tried to pass off as fresh roses.

entering through the garage door, i saw dad sitting on the sofa in front of the television. i immediately went into the kitchen and started breakfast (or at this point, lunch...). then i realized i still hadn't said hello to mom, so i went upstairs to their bedroom.

only she wasn't there.

dread started creeping up on me as i stood there in a puddle of confusion, trying to figure out where she could be.

"mom?!?" i yelled.


i turned around and headed down the hall, checking the other three rooms for her and not finding her.

"dad! where's mom?"

"she's upstairs nikki," he replied from downstairs, his voice woven with impatience.

"i can't find her!"

"she's around there somewhere."

now folk, my parents don't own a mansion. there weren't but so many places the woman could be. i checked the rooms again, then headed downstairs.

"are you sure she's up there dad?"

"she's up there."

"what, is she hiding from me?"



i went back upstairs into her room and lo and behold, there she was laying on her bed as though she'd never left. i ran and jumped on her, kissing her and tickling her at the same time.

"how you gonna play me like that! you had me thinking i was crazy!"

she stared at me innocently as though she had no idea what i was talking about.

"where WERE you?!?" i asked with exasperation.

"i've been right here the whole time," she said matter-of-factly. i just looked at her and smirked.

"whatever, mom."

"you took your sweet time getting over here missy," her words soaking in a bath of admonishment as we hugged and she kissed me on the cheek.

"i know i know..."

"what took you so long getting here?"


i shifted uncomfortably as she looked at me. that's when i noticed her worry lines were in full effect.

"what's wrong?"

she sat there for a minute, her silence poking at my anxiety.

"have you spoken to your brother?"


"i think you need to hear this message he left on my voicemail."

at this point my heart is racing and i'm trying to calm myself. after having suffered four deaths in our family over the last year, it has become woefully easy for me to panic when there's a hint that something's wrong.

she puts the phone to my ear and i hear his voice, sounding breathless and thready, as if his strength was being pulled from him through his pores.

"it's no big deal...but i've been having chest pains and i'm not feeling well...i'm gonna go to the doctor today..."

"CHEST PAINS?!?" i exclaimed as i sat there and contemplated how fast i could get to new york. by the time his message was done, i was already mentally packing my suitcase and buying my plane ticket. i looked over at mom and she appeared close to tears. i spoke as calmly as i could considering i was freaking out my damn self.

"he's probably stressed out. no need for us to get freaked out about this, mom."

"i've been trying to call him all morning but he's not picking up his phone..."

we were looking at each other and remembering february 2006 when my granny had been frantically trying to reach my uncle curt. she'd called him nonstop all day before finally going over to his apartment where she'd found him collapsed and cold on the floor from a massive heart attack. he'd been dead since the day before.

"mom, i know he's alright." i said even as i could feel myself shaking. i grabbed my cell phone and tried to call him. the battery died right as i punched in the digits. for some reason, that made me even more afraid. i reached for mom's home phone and called him. he didn't pick up. mom called him from her cell phone. he didn't pick up.

we sat there, a phone in each of our hands, dialing his number over and over, praying he'd pick up the phone...