Friday, June 27, 2008

Florida, Family

(Photo of cloud to ground lightning from the NOAA)

I drove yesterday from the east coast of (terrible horrible) Florida to Mom's house on the west coast of [t, h] Florida yesterday. The trip was made under a uniformly bruise-colored sky; skeleton fingers of lightning stabbed down at every point on the vast, flat horizon. The neicemobile that I was driving had the presence of a roller skate among the 18-wheelers and flatbeds and SUVs that made it seem as though every person in the state had decided yesterday to take their largest vehicle along same route that I was following. I had to consult my google map print out under cataracts of rain from the sky and spray from the road. By the time I reached Mom's house I was tense and tired. Then was the hard part of seeing Mom for the first time since she had received her cancer diagnosis (in April), had three surgeries, and begun chemotherapy.

Well, let us have faith in tender mercies. Unfolding myself from the neicemobile and hauling the suitcase to the door I was steeling myself for the worst, but that is not what I found. Mom looked good, all things considered. She and her husband had just finished a tidy meal that might have been served by her when I was in 7th grade (corn, mashed and something like Salisbury steak). Though Florida is an easy target, Mom always manages to make her homes look like something from a magazine. That quality has been retained. In fact, she has several new paintings since I was here last (about a year and a half ago). The little patch of ground on which their house sits, among a thousand others of the same 1990s vintage and hue, was neat and blooming. There were no bad smells; no unmade beds.

She has a long way to go, but I can believe now -- now that I have finally seen for myself -- that these last few months will someday be a dark time from which she emerged. I will go with her to today's doctor's appointment and that won't be fun for her or any of us. But actually being here, instead of just talking on the phone or hearing reports from my Florida sister is something of a relief. I don't have to wonder how things are going, I can see for myself. Not great, obviously, not even good but, perhaps, not a catastrophe either.