Last Monday night at around 7:30 my mother’s friend called. I’ll call her Daniela. She had been on the phone with my mother when my mother suddenly couldn’t speak, and then the phone went dead. Daniela lives several hundred miles away from my mother, and I live several hundred miles away from both of them. Carole called the police in my mother’s area and they said they would check on her.
Now my version of this story is different from Carole’s, even though it happened less than a week ago and we were both paying attention. This happens often, and we won’t let the fact that I have a degree in journalism and am an investigator for the state give my version any more credence than hers. Ahem.
Anyway an hour later Carole called back and found out they had sent her to a hospital. The hospital said she’d been there for six minutes, and they didn’t know what was what. Finally Daniela called back and said that my mother’s husband had called Daniela to let her know that my mother was drunk, had passed out and was now in the hospital.
Carole called my mother’s husband. He said that my mother had been drinking for two days. He said that earlier that afternoon, my mother had gone outside to get the mail and didn’t come back in. When he looked for her he found her passed out on the walkway. He dragged her inside and she said she was fine. An hour later he heard a crash and found her again passed out, this time hung up between the printer and the fax machine. When I hear this, I recall one of the few memories I have of my father (he died from alcoholism when I was six and he was 33) when I saw him passed out and hung between the couch and the coffee table. This time there was a little blood and my mother’s husband called an ambulance. My mother refused to go to the hospital and signed a waiver that she was going against medical advice. Three hours later, my mother was talking to Daniela when she passed out again. This time the ambulance took and, her husband said, kept her. She got two stitches in her head.
The next day Carole and my son talked to my mother on the phone. She was home, denying any of it had ever happened and that she actually hadn’t gone to the hospital at all, though she did admit she has two stitches in her head. She’s not a doctor. She could not stitch her own head.
I am 52 years old, and she is 75. When I tell people that it’s never too late to give your child a sober parent, I am not kidding. It is not too late.