It Runs in the Family


- “Eulogy” -

I listen intently over the phone line as my mother reads a eulogy she wrote for my grandfather’s funeral. I have agreed to write a series of short stories to print in my magazine on us, our torrid lives, she thinks it would make good print, he will be one of them. The memories I do have of this man are vague at best he was a strong man, strong willed and strong of mind, he lived a long life not spared from the tortures it seems our family is prone to. My late grandfather, my mother and myself all have degrading levels of this disease, it tends to affect the XX stronger than XY, we haven’t quite determined the reasoning, however we generally learn to tune the distractions out but when I woke up this morning with an elephant troop turning tricks in my head, I founds it very difficult to concentrate on anything else. The pain the noise I think to myself I can not live through these episode any longer, I reach for my tiny bottle of greenish blue pills, popping two and briskly drinking the last drops from the last bottle of water, when I get up I will write on the list WATER! I will not forget to buy more. I don’t remember much about when the headaches began but I do remember the day I realized we were all crazy.

My mother was twenty nine years old by the time I was born, I was a very difficult birth and defecated in her womb, Mar conium birth, I was stressed during birth how could they expect that was going to change. I AM BLOODY CRAZY! I don’t hear voices but I do know what I hear, tiny foot prints, bugs, germs, the cold outside, the heaters in my house, the walls creeping in on me, Elephants, I know these are illusions but what harm do I pose myself by being cautious. Dr Guilford feels I allow myself to create these alternate reasoning because I need to secure a normality I have yet to find, he does not believe I am crazy, he tells me I don’t need medication, then why tell me does he prescribe the highest doses of them to his weakest patients? I am going to ask him next time I see him. The elephant feet trample on my old memories, I must sound crazy, the sounds like a migraine blind and the feet trample the memories I remember but wish to forget like his story of melting, these are my snowflakes on the bottom of pounding feet. It’s hard to hear my mother through these noises, but I know she’d understand if I didn’t want to hear her rambles this early.

“Um, mother?  I can not talk right now, I haven’t medicated.”

“Alright Sammy, you just call me when your better” She’ll respond and hang up quickly, she cant be the one left on the line or she’ll hear them, that’s them in the white noise. It still feels weird for my mother to use the word better with me; weird what better still means to her, I’ve been better for years now, no outbreaks or breakdowns. And SAMMY? I knew then she’d be gone too after this.

“Sammy!” my mother would call me from her bedroom on the worst nights, blinded by pain and riddled with guilt, naked from the waist up holding a thin pink sheet against her ample full chest for modesty. I was nine or ten when these began, sweats running down her bloated torso tears filling her eyes, a mind so vast yet fragile, lurking black images.

 “NO, your not! Sammy!”

My mother, she was crazy. From the ages of twelve through twenty-four I watched my mother being released and then relapse to uncountable mental institutions through out the greater Northwest.  Her issues were always with urges, like mine, but she knew something was watching her, something black, and something hurtful. She claims there may have been voices now but none that struck with her a memory of sounds like you see in the movies she’s seen. Confused, I watched her fall again and once more, while nothing was done to keep it a secret. The whispers became voices talking behind a back that should have been turned; I heard every word about her disease and vowed I would never love someone who was crazy like that. I was fifteen when I moved from a comfortable two-bedroom apartment alone with my mother to my Auntie’s three-story townhouse in Vancouver. Even at a distance I watched my mother fall farther and farther into her head.

I think I should write another novel, I write in my planner ‘MOM’ I’ll remember what that means, I can’t forget, elephants remember. Not that the doctors haven’t already documented her life.

This call in the morning stayed with me long after the numbing pills set in and my mind was again a clear mess of daily chores. I am a writer, so my home is my office, which must be keep either neat and structured or cluttered and sporadic depending on the work I’m doing, I also run a small online and print magazine with general readership and three full time staff, I like to pop into the downtown office at least three or four times a week which keeps me busy, but my publishers feel I’m taking on too much and its been about five years since my last novel was published, this generally gets a writer nervous but I know its coming I like to be ready if the idea hits me. Success has never been hard for me, focus has been. My whole life I found it difficult to convey what I was thinking because it past so fast, when I can write words down I find it easier to stay focused, I can edit and change. Unlike direct thought typed words allow for greater insight before allowing them to influence an audience; I could never speak directly without knowing the structure, I get off course. How I became a writer is how I overcame my moods, thoughts, and “voices”.

My mother was greatly disturbed I heard it in her voice and years had past since her last episode so the moment I found time I called her up at home, leaving a message was not what I had hoped to do however I knew what had to be said.

What I wanted to say was:

“ Hi Mom, You were trying to read me Grandpas Eulogy this morning, sorry I couldn’t talk, you can call me at home anytime today, I love you!"

What came out inevitably was:

“ Mom it’s, hi it’s Sam, your son… I heard this morning you were going to, Grandpa’s Eu... Mom are you home, please don’t be scared its… it’s me Sam… call me back when I’m home today. Ump bye!”

 I get nervous sometimes when things are emotional. It’s been three days now she hasn’t returned my calls I’m beginning to worry. I pick up the phone again and dial my editor his name is James and we have been seeing each other on and off for the past six years, he knows my mother well and I know he can help, if not with her psychosis then at least my block for these articles. 

The End

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