While my mother and daughter endeavored to shop away my Parkinson’s Disease, my son and I went to the beach. “Mom, can you please get my snorkel gear from the room, please?” he asked after gathering his first, random assortment of shells. He refused to join me so I stopped by the lifeguard station on my way back to our room.
“We can’t be responsible for him on the beach,” the guard answered, his gaze never leaving the sea. “That’s fine. He’s a good kid, I just don’t want him to drown,” I replied. “He won’t,” the guard replied with a laugh, leaving me free to go on yet another errand in my never-ending capacity as my children’s vacation valet.
We returned to our room with a record number of shells, all of which I was instructed had to return to LA with us. My mother and daughter met us there with their bounty of baubles: lip gloss from Bloomingdales; a pile of tween clothes from Forever 21; and a beautiful, red, Valentino bag for me. It was chic. It was lovely. I hated it immediately.
The purse – with a zipper that closed it completely per my mother’s demand – looked nothing like the one I’d primed my daughter to let my mother buy me so that she could feel that she was doing something to help my PD. It’s a well known fact that designer baubles have neuro-restorative effects after all.
I made myself a stiff drink from the mini bar to subdue my nausea. Nausea bred at my disgust about my disappointment regarding the purse. The beautiful, fine leather that would not fit my MacBook Air. “Does your iPad fit?” I asked my daughter, embarrassingly angry at her inability to dress up my disease with the right designer leather. “No. But’s it’s so pretty.” My daughter tossed off in reply – it’s a purse, Amy. But to me, then, it represented so much more. The materialism I rail against and often disdain, despite my fondness for designer leather within which to carry my wares. My hypocrisy about it not being the right overpriced, designer leather. My disappointment that my daughter did not follow my rehearsed, pre-set parameters while shopping for me.
Neither my mother nor my daughter paid a lot of attention to the earth’s ornaments my son had excavated – which was fair, as my son paid minimal attention to my daughter’s modeling of her purchases as she fondled my new bag. Maybe I should bring the shells back to Los Angeles in the Valentino purse?
Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar – but a purse is never just a purse. I am an ungrateful brat of a daughter. And, I am a fearful mother, worried that I will raise someone as ungrateful as I am. I am in need of another drink. I helped myself to that second drink. “Bottoms up! Here is a toast to my Parkie Pill,” I said as I ceremoniously swallowed my Azilect. “Are you sure you should take it with vodka?” My mother asked under her breath.
My son and I showered off the remains of the Atlantic Ocean as my daughter tried on many outfits. Twenty minutes later we headed to the hotel restaurant for dinner.
Sunday nudged me awake with a headache. Martinis – too much of a good thing is bad.
We met my mother for an alcohol-free brunch by the pool.
“You have to be thankful in this life”, my mother opined, “You’re lucky it’s just in your left hand.” My ever optimistic mother repeated this several times as she worked to digest my brain’s new normal while buying me meals, and purses – and too many drinks – as we minimized the effects of my neuro degenerative disorder… for the sake of the kids and ourselves.
“Yes you do,” I agreed, “There are twitchy types who are a lot more compromised than I.” “There are people who twitch instead of shake?” “No, mother, it’s a joke.” And so we sat by the pool, chatting about friends, family – even briefly and bravely about politics – while keeping an eye on the kids as they swam in the pool.
After a dinner – dry, thank you very much– of sushi for us and cooked fish for the force of nature that is my mother, we said goodnight and goodbye. The news was delivered and received as well as possible. Now it was time to pack and get back to our new normal -– even if I didn’t return with the right bag.