When I was a kid, Mom and Dad thought I needed a vacation. Maybe they thought I could use a break from my autistic brother Mike. My aunt and uncle had a bungalow in Rockaway (New York). My cousins would be there and Grandma too. There would be the beach and the waves of the ocean. I wasn’t very excited about going and was worried about drowning in the sea. Dad told me to be careful about the undertow and when I asked Mom about what actually would happen if I drowned, she said that if I did, she’d never speak to me again. I felt sick while I was there and even though I got to talk to Mom and Dad on the phone, I didn’t know how far away they were, and I couldn’t stop being sad. I even threw up with loneliness.
I remember this story because of an encounter with one of Mom’s fellow residents at dinner. S____ was behind us in line for the Early Bird Special. She was looking for someone to sit with, so we invited her to sit with us. It so happened that she had resided there for more than 5 years; we asked how she liked it and she said she didn’t like it that much. All her friends were gone. “My daughter is nearby, but I don’t see her that much,” she said. We were sympathetic and turned the conversation to happier things.
After dinner, Mom, Joy and I went to the lobby to wait for Mom’s friends from town. She invited them over just to meet us. I expected the W___s, but M___, another of my mother’s friends came as well. The W___s had been very nice to Mom during hurricane Sandy, even inviting her to stay at their place when Mom’s heat went out. What I hadn’t realized is that they played bridge together all the time. We had a great time talking, telling stories and getting to know each other.
So, Mom still talks to me, since I didn’t drown in Rockaway; I haven’t thrown up with loneliness since then either. I hope that S___ can take a cue from my mother and that she figures a way out of loneliness.