I had been in the hospital for a week when Mom and my younger brother Russell appeared. The company doctor and the airlines had arranged for their visit.
It was late spring. I'd been wearing the same clothes everyday, light blue jeans, a red and black lumberjack jacket, a tee shirt and heavy Frye boots. Mom arrived with a pair of rose colored trousers and a coordinated sweater. I was ecstatic. For a moment, I felt free and like myself again.
But with unkempt hair and a pale and drawn face from the loss of 30 pounds, I must have looked to her like someone else. Without her permission, I'd become unfamiliar and lost.
In thinking back, perhaps she was seeing me then as part of the saga that had colored her entire adult life and that she had tried to hide unsuccessfully. I wonder if she was thinking I'd become like my father's family: crazy, unreliable, and socially disgraced. Yet she seemed horrified at my situation and brave at the same time; her sense of superficial superiority illuminating the visible stress; her good sportsmanship coming to the surface even as she appeared embarrassed and afraid.
Russell had a different reaction. With few words at the onset, he, the ultimate pragmatist, intervened. "Betsy" he said, " if you don't get your act together, you're going to be in an institution for the rest of your life."
That night, after Mom and Russel had left, Dr. Wong introduced me to the other patients in the large dining room. He told me that the floor was filled with people of all types: rich, poor, drug addicts, alcoholics, manic depressives, schizophrenics, suicidals, kleptomaniacs, people from the streets and good homes just like me. That night they were all looking up at a large TV. As I took my seat among them, I remember feeling an accepted part of the crowd. I sat and watched my first episode of Star Trek and was hooked.
to be continued.....