Friday, January 14, 2011

Day 6: Not a Pretty Sight

by Zinta Aistars

Not even babies are cute when they blubber. Who wants to see a grown woman whimper and whine? I don’t. I am looping around any mirror, any reflective surface tonight, don’t want to see it. Put the shiny cover of that pan away.

Just money, I keep telling myself. It’s just money. Know what they say. Even if you don’t have it, if it’s a problem that could be cured by throwing money at it, it’s not really a problem. 

Tell that to the homeless mother and child.

Hey, I’ve been there. Have lived that scenario, and it did feel like a real problem. But yes, yes, I get the idea, and even between whimpers, I have to agree. Even without a television in the house this week, I have glimpsed enough news online to sense the depth of tragedy in Tucson. Many deaths, many horrible injuries, and a sweet-faced little girl was just buried there …

I get that, and I am more than a bit shamed by it. What kind of a person whimpers at the loss of a dream, torn to pieces bit by bit, bill by bill, and whisked away, when my children breath and stand up to the day, alive and well? Have I given up? Is this all the fight left in me?

It’s going on the third month in a row, after a year of such, that unexpected wallet-eaters have befallen me. If not me, my children. Both adults, but as any mother will tell you, that doesn’t mean they sit on your heart any lighter. 

I have been paying off debt, whittling away the numbers, car payments, mortgages, working on buying my freedom, dollar by dollar, cent by cent. Making wonderful progress. Every payday a celebration. Not because I had money to spend, but because I had money to pay into that debt, and that was exhilarating. My northern dream, that secret cabin in the woods, was moving out of the fog and taking shape. Even as financial advisers and a few others, too, have rolled their eyes at me. Starting a bit late in life, aren’t I? 


But what’s an old girl to do. Children raised on my own, finally my turn. Could scent that dream in the air, the sweetest perfume. Do whatever I can. 

The economy has hit many of us hard. My son was laid off work almost a year ago, and my daughter lost her job, too. Hard working kids, do a mama proud, and I was glad to help. At least I finally could. Their childhoods had been very lean, and my heart ached over that. Family, three musketeers, we would lean on each other, and sometimes one was stronger while another needed more. 

I get cranky when I hear those who talk about health insurance being only for those who work and pay in. Most of this past year my girl has worked hard, scrambling from part time job to another part time, doing the temporary, doing what she can, and always without benefits. Something hurts, she ignores it. My son would fix cars in our garage, install stereos for barter, change the oil, change the brakes, tune an engine. Back aching, muscle in spasm, let it go. Neither one of mine have health insurance, and both are too old now for me to cover. A doctor who had cared for my son since childhood now refuses to see him, won’t let him in the door. No insurance card. 

Cars break down, bodies break down, bills roll in. I pay. And we all feel bad. Plan best you can, and the surprises still come. This, that and the other. So today when news came in that my girl’s car stalled in Chicago traffic and the electrical system gave out, the mechanic spoke of nearly a grand to get her on the road again.

Head in my hands, I fought back tears. Can’t catch a break. My numbers are not going down. Spinning wheels. Dancing in place. Numbers that refuse to shrink, only escalate, spinning out of control and up over my head. 

Work day over, I race home, home to my temporary house-sitting home, house in the country. Good to close the door behind me, close out the day. Stoke up the fire in the wood stove. Brew up a cup of hot, steaming tea. Curl up inside my softest robe and hunker down, small enough for the world not to notice me. I want to hide. 

I want to whimper and whine. I want to blubber like a spoiled child, tears big enough for a crocodile. I think about that sweet cabin up north and watch it recede back into an ever thickening fog. 

“I’m too old,” I blurt out at my old cat, jumping up into my robed lap. “I’m too old to ever retire.” One has to start planning for such things when young as my daughter, looking far ahead. Careful to avoid lean years, single mothers raising children and not catching a break. Now that I can finally afford to plan, it’s too late.

Is it? Too late?

In a perfect life, all stars aligned, I could do this. Out of sheer spite, I could. 

Last I checked, life is anything but perfect. Things bust and break, accidents happen, economies slide, injustices rule, luck spatters, good and deserving people go without. Machines bust and health fails. There’s the thing, there’s the crux. Stuff happens. And numbers grow fat again instead of fasting thin. 

I toss another log on the fire. It burns. It crackles, sparks, flames up, pops. I watch it burn. One dream left in life, and I am watching it go up in flames. 

Oh, whimper. Oh, whine.

My daughter sends a text. I love you. 

My son calls. Waiting to see you tomorrow.

And suddenly, even as my dream goes up in smoke, I am wealthy again.

No comments:

Post a Comment