Phone call

August 3, 2005 § 5 Comments

I am doing laundry when my mother calls. I decide to pick up.

“Hi mom.”

“Hi cuca, how are you?”

“I’m fine. I’m doing laundry.”

“How’s school?” Her voice sounds strained.

“Fine.” I’m lying. “Busy.”

“And the weather? Is it hot there?”

“Yeah, we both had the same weather today. Hot and rainy.”

“How’s school?”

“Fine. Busy.”

I wonder if she’s forgotten that she’s asked me already, or if she can’t think of what else to say.

She pauses. “I was in the hospital.”

“Really?” My voice strains. “What happened?”

“It’s the carbon monoxide, like last time.”

She thinks the furnace is leaking carbon monoxide. My father had it checked twice last year and it was fine.

“But what happened?”

“I passed out in the garden.”

My stomach tightens. “Oh…”

“Then I got up, and I fell again. Like a bag.”

I wonder if she’s had a heart attack. A doctor told her before that she had two without knowing it.

“What do you mean, passed out?”

“He [my brother] called 911. The ambulance took me to St. Joseph’s Hospital.”

She hates St. Joseph’s Hospital. She thinks they try to kill her there.

“What did they say?”

“It’s the carbon monoxide. I have a detector, and it went off.”


“Last time, in October.”

I bring her back. “Wait, what did the doctors say? Did they say it was carbon monoxide?”

“They did some tests.”

“What tests?”

“I have to go for tests on the ninth.”

I take a breath. “But did they do any tests at the hospital?”

“They did a blood test.”

“And what did it say?”

“It was the carbon monoxide. It made me vomit.”

“Did you vomit this time?”

“Yes, in the garden.”

I wonder if it’s her diabetes. She is diabetic but won’t admit it. She can hardly walk because of it. I will look it up later.

“What did the blood tests say?”

“They didn’t tell me anything.”

“Really?” I don’t believe her.

“But I have to go on the ninth…”


“And they gave me medication.”

“For what?

“Heart medication.”

So it’s her heart.

“And they did a cardiogram.”

“What did it say?”

“They didn’t tell me anything. I don’t know why they took me to St. Joseph’s…”

“Probably because it’s the closest.”

“We’ve always had trouble there, your brother and me.”

Once, she was at St. Joseph’s for kidney stones and she ripped the IV out of her arm and went home. She thought it was poison.

“It’s a good hospital, mom.”

“I’m worried about your brother. He won’t talk about what happened to him.”

“Is he okay?”

“He’s too tame now. He sits there folding a towel over and over.”

I wonder if he’s on medication again, or if he’s trying to calm himself.

“But is he physically okay? Is he healing?”

“He has a scar on his temple, and I see him pressing his throat.”

“Is that where he was hurt?”

“He was beaten all over.”

I didn’t call my brother on his birthday. I should have called him on his birthday.

“Are you okay, mom?”

“I feel better. Everything’s not spinning anymore.”

“Is that because of the medication?”

“I don’t want you to worry.”

My voice softens. “I have to worry. You’re my mother.”

“I only wanted you to know in case something happens to me.”

“Nothing’s going to happen. But you have to do what the doctor tells you.”

“I’m in God’s hands. I just have to live long enough to help your brother. He’s not mental, you know, he just has to get out from under their thumb.”


Her voice trembles. “What will he do when I’m gone?”

I don’t know what he’ll do when she’s gone. He asked me once if he can come live with me. I told him that wasn’t possible.

“You have to take care of yourself. You can’t take care of him if you don’t take care of yourself.”

“I’m in God’s hands, don’t worry. I want you to be happy. You have your whole life ahead of you.”

My therapist said last week that I have survivor guilt. She’s on vacation this week.

“What happened to that boy you were interested in?”

Did I tell her about him? Why did I tell her about him? I must have been drunk.

“Oh, he disappeared. No big deal.”

“You’re too cautious because you’ve been hurt. You shouldn’t be alone.”

“It’s fine, mom.” I think about telling her that I’ve been writing again. I decide against it.

“So you’ll go for those tests on the ninth?”

“I wish it wasn’t St. Joseph’s…”

“It’s a good hospital. Please go.”

“Your birthday is coming up.”

“Yes it is, in a few weeks.”

“I’ll call you for your birthday.”

“No, call me when you get your test results.”

“Don’t worry, I’m in God’s hands. I’ll call you for your birthday”

I wonder how long she can live like this.

“Please take care of yourself.”

“You’re all I have, the two of you. You’re what I live for.”

“I know. Please get the tests done.”

“Don’t worry.”

What if this the last time? I should say it.

“I love you, mom.”

Her voice breaks. “I love you, cuca. Be happy.”

The dryer has stopped. I sit for a while, then start folding laundry.


§ 5 Responses to Phone call

  • mtlanglo says:

    That was one of the most touching things I’ve ever read on-line- I wish it was morning so I could call my mother, too.

  • Vila H. says:

    You should.

  • Gordon Foster says:

    Lil, I am really touched that you wrote this all out and cared so much about your mom to do so. I can recall a few things my own mom told me and said to others, but no complete conversations. There were several years that I didn’t call, and especially during the custody battle when I could have used her kind words and voice I was just too detached to pick up the phone. After returning to Canada in 2008 the conversations were infrequent, and eventually non-existent.

    Let me know if you’d like anyone to talk with about your brother. I’m here, and I’ve also been there.

  • villas says:

    Link exchange is nothing else but it is just placing the other person’s website link on your page at proper place and other person will also do similar for you.

  • I’ll right away take hold of your rss as I can not in finding your e-mail subscription link or e-newsletter service. Do you’ve any?
    Please let me know in order that I could subscribe. Thanks.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

What’s this?

You are currently reading Phone call at The Smoking Section.


%d bloggers like this: