For the first 12 years of my life I had a mother, which I guess is better than none. I took advantage of those years having her as a best friend being a total momma’s boy. Further, my mother was beautiful both inside and physically so it was easy. I say this not looking back with the distorted idealization of a motherless child but because she was. Every person that knew her in her short life said so in mythic sad descriptions that were more honest than being polite. And I have friends with horrible mothers, who are distant, or detached, or crazy, and I tell myself 12 years with an amazing mother is better than 50 with a horrible one. But this story isn’t about my mother, or my two grandmothers, or my aunt who after my mothers death became part time mothers to my brother and I. This story is about laundry, and overcast days, and responsibility, and the unexpected path life can lead you.
This story is about today, a lazy Sunday or so I thought. Deciding to be productive I gathered all my bedding and clothes to bring to my nearby laundromat. Its early and my hair is disheveled blades atop my head, my face is unwashed and unshaven, my eyes have sleepers and my clothes are from the night before. The laundromat is half a block from my apartment so who would I have to impress. I cart all my washables to the laundromat, load them in, and then head back to my apartment to wait out the wash cycle. As I step onto the sidewalk I see an elderly woman laying flat on her back in the middle of the sidewalk. No one else is around and the surreal development startles me. Too shook to be nervous I go up asking if she’s ok. There is no answer. She is serenely gazing up at the grey sky. She is dressed fancy with matching skirt, shoes, blazer, blouse, and even purse which is strewn on the ground next to her. I’m sure she is dead but I keep asking if she is ok.
“Are You ok?”
“Can you hear me?”
Upon realizing what is happening I also process what she looks like, a doppelganger of my long passed grandmother. Finally her blank face becomes self aware and then confused as she looks at me. The next step is to call 911 but I realize I didn’t bring my phone because A. I hate it, and B. I thought I was going for a quick uneventful errand. I run back into the laundromat and yell for the guy to call 911. I go back out toward the woman and this mexican guy with a mask of almost painterly vitiligo all across his face is running over to help her up. As he pulls her, I watch and he says “Help!” I snap out of my daze and say, ‘maybe we should leave her on the ground?’ I must of seen somewhere on TV where they say don’t move the victim. Don’t pull the knife out of a wound, etc. So I ask the lady, “Do you want to get up, or stay down?” Down, she says. At this time a girl from inside the laundromat comes out who has a cellphone and is talking to 911. She hands the phone to me saying they want to talk to me since I found her. I explain how I came out and she was already on the ground unresponsive, and then woke up.
We ask the lady if she wants an ambulance and with a strong Polish accent she says, “no.” and when we ask if she has any family to call she says something about “no, she can’t bother her son.” and that she wants to go to church, which is where she was headed. The man and I lift her up to sit on a bench as we wait an alarmingly long time for the ambulance to arrive. For some reason no one else can understand her and the lady always seems to answer to me so I ask if she remembers what happened, “No.” I ask if she hit her head, “Yes.” The girl, man, and I awkwardly wait and wait and wait as oblivious passerby’s happily scream to each other and enjoy the slightly warmer weather giving the strange group of us a side eye.
Finally the ambulance arrives and the man ushers me to greet them. I wonder how I became the spokesperson for this event, but tell myself, be an adult, you found her first, and I explain what I told the 911 operator earlier. The EMT’s hesitantly walk to the woman putting on their plastic gloves, and lead her to the ambulance. The woman looks back at me with a smile and I ask the girl next to me, “Isn’t today Mothers Day?” “Yeah.” she responds.