“Tell her,” my youngest whispered urgently as we waited to check into our hotel. My mother stood by my side. “No, not yet.” My seven-year-old sat nearby clutching his monkey. I returned my attention to the front desk where my mother was invoking the name of the resort’s manager to criticize the harried gentleman working to find us the room my mother had reserved. Hotel? Yes, a hotel. You see, my family believes that good fences make good relatives so when we visit each other we stay in hotels. Intimacy, our doctrine goes, should be served up like meals; in limited portions at mutually agreeable times.
“You have a convention here, don’t you?”
“Five,” the man replied to me, not looking up from his screen, his fingers typing furiously.
“I made the reservation… a month ago, as soon as you told me you were coming,” my mother said, hurling her words like an insult.
“Its 10:40 p.m. at night, he’ll do what he can and we’ll deal with it in the morning,” I said, tired and determined to keep my kids on West Coast time; as our East Coast visit was to be short.
“It’s 10:42 p.m. actually,” the irritated guest next to me interjected.
“Who asked him,” my mother hissed.
Hey, hotel industry, not that you asked, but I think that you should offer complimentary wine at the front desk/check in 24/7 especially if you’re going to host five conventions simultaneously without adding additional front desk personnel. And, airlines, if your passengers are deplaning to visit family, you should send them on their way with a couple of those tiny bottles of calm. Hmmm… can’t imagine why a career in the hospitality industry was never an option….
We finally got to the room. My mother, happy with its appearance and confident that all of our bags were on the bellman’s cart, said good night – after we planned to meet for lunch the following day. The kids and I got ready for bed. As we were about to turn in we realized that a member of our party was missing. So, in my PJs hand-in-hand with my weepy seven year-old I returned to the lobby and reclaimed Fluffy, the stuffed monkey.
A hotel bed never felt so good.
“When are you going to tell her?” My son asked upon waking. “We’ll see.” A moment later he asked again as I latte-ed my way into consciousness.
I’ve debated with myself and others the merits of telling my mother about my PD at all. She doesn’t read my blog nor does she keep up with social media so my ‘secret’ was ‘safe’. Why stress an 86-year-old woman’s life? Weighing in on the other hand was the fear that someone other than I would tell her about my diagnosis which she might consider an insult.
“Tell her,” my seven year-old implored as we walked to lunch, he clutching my left hand and shaking it more than it shakes itself for emphasis.
We sat down to seafood. I ordered oysters to start and enjoyed watching my family stare at my food choice in disgust. My son sat sullen, his mood dragging all of us down.
“I have a little tremor, mother,” I started…
“It isn’t Parkinson’s is it?”
“Actually, it is.”
My kids stared at us as my mother blinked,
“How is that possible if you don’t have the gene for it?”
“Scientists would love the answer to that question, mother” I replied explaining that no one is sure exactly what combination of nature and nurture manifests itself in the brain offing its dopamine cells prematurely. “You have to be thankful for things – it’s good it’s in your left hand,” my mother stated. I agreed. I let my left hand rest on the table free at last to let it twitch in front of everyone.
“I wanted you to tell her so it wouldn’t be such a big deal,” the big-eyed, earnest soul next to me whispered as he finally dived into his calamari. We discussed everything but my PD for the rest of the meal.
It started to rain. My mother and daughter retreated to the hotel lobby to window shop. My son and I headed outside to embrace the water falling from the sky. Then the metaphoric turned literal.
My phone blared a tornado warning. My son and I enjoyed getting drenched until the second warning blared and we thought better of it. We headed off to our new room – complete with a lovely flower arrangement from the hotel apologizing for last night’s error – looking like wet rodents. We dried off and made ourselves tea.
“I’m glad that you told her,” he said squeezing my left hand, “I think she realizes it’s not a big deal.” I smiled and held my precious little boy closer, Eric Clapton’s Let It Rain playing in my head, as we watched the storm pass through.