What are you Hiding?

I was in Nordstrom last night trying to find an under- eye concealer that would disguise what I’m told is a genetic problem and not due to my crazy life. As the sales lady applied and applied layer after layer of color corrector, secret camouflage, ultra HD concealer and miracle eye wand, it became very apparent that this was no secret and there was no miracle. I’m a mess.

Up until now, I have been able to “put on a good face”. I have maneuvered through the past 10 years with the uncanny ability to be witty, give good advice, care for my family, volunteer for everything, please my man and be the friend that sticks with you when everyone else has gone home.

Well, the jig is up.

As I walked through the mall with my “old lady makeup” purchase (fondly named by my eldest), I began to wonder what the women surrounding me, mindlessly sifting through sale racks, were experiencing. How many would attend the high school graduation of their first born this week and seize up with the fear of letting go in the fall. How many were overwhelmed with the day in and day out challenges of having a special needs child. How many were struggling to make end of life care arrangements for a parent in their final stages of dementia. How many were questioning their worth.

Life has handed me its share of crap and I completely understand that it’s all relative. My bullshit may be another person’s day off. I get that; however, it certainly doesn’t diminish what we each experience. I try to give each tough situation its dignity and perhaps sprinkle it with a little humor to keep us all grounded.

Each month, I make the trip to see dad. I’m really the only one he recognizes anymore and my time with him is a priority. It’s Friday before Mother’s Day weekend. This is going to be a quick trip and I plan to return Sunday afternoon in time to spend the day with my kids. Since it’s a quick trip and it IS my special weekend, I decide to treat myself to Airport Valet Parking at $25/day. I have never used this service, but what the hell. Live a little, right? Right.

I find my father in terrible condition and call for an ambulance. He is hospitalized. I spend the next 5 days at his bedside, advocating on his behalf with specialists from all medical fields. I keep his medical records meticulous and I’m so prepared, many physicians remark that they assumed I was employed in the medical field. Meanwhile, there are people at home who expected my return and need direction. I’m making calls, arranging transportation and solving problems from the hospital for my people who rely on me to make it all work out. Only one chaotic instance of the elementary school principal calling me to ask what to do with my youngest child left standing after school seems to be a small victory for me. I can do this.

Day 5

I’m running on about 3 hours sleep a night and a diet of Redbull, Subway and chardonnay. Dad is not responding to treatment, so antibiotics are changed. He’s not being discharged any time soon. The weather has seesawed from a cold and rainy 55 degrees to 94 and sunny. Here come the storms. Now, it is important to note for story continuity, that home there is a 500-acre family farm. I am alone in a 150-year-old farm house that my contractor swears is haunted. My grandmother fell off the porch in a rocker and died there, my uncle nearly chopped off his head in a terrible chainsaw accident behind the house. Dead. Lastly, my grandfather cut off 3 fingers while building a chair in his workshop and he also fell off the roof and landed on an axe, but he didn’t die from any of that.

Back to the storm. While speaking with my husband, I can see the sky brewing up my next form of bullshit. I half-jokingly inform my him that if I lose power, I will jump out of an upstairs window. As the words are coming out of my mouth, I lose power. If you’ve never experienced pitch blackness and total silence, let me tell you, it is terrifying. I gathered candles and barricaded myself in my bedroom which now resembled some sort of ghoulish tomb, dancing with creepy shadows I was sure were going to kill me. It is also important to note that I had a .38 and a box of ammunition on the bed with me for mortal intruders, because that’s how I roll. My cell phone battery is draining, so throughout the night, I keep going out to the car to charge it. I am now sitting under the car port, head on a swivel, headlights on, loaded .38 in my lap, charging my phone and mumbling something about fuck my life. Earlier, my husband had suggested I just go to sleep. I hung up on him.

Day 6

The sun appears, the power is restored 14 hours later and I’m already headed back to the hospital. I stop at Target to pick up a few t-shirts and some sweat pants because I had only packed for 48 hours, so around day 3, I started digging into my farm attire (which isn’t pretty). Dad is improving.

Day 7

Dad can be discharged and taken back to his nursing home. I decided it’s best for me to transport him so that we don’t further upset and confuse him in an ambulance. I can chat with him on the ride and remind him of familiar places and stories. We’ve traveled these roads together thousands of times so it will be good for the two of us.

With help, I get him into the car and slide into the driver’s seat. He turns to me and says, “Where are you taking me, Lady?”

Me: Dad, it’s me, Jessica. Don’t you know who I am? Look at me. I’m your daughter, Jessica.

Dad: I find that very hard to believe.

Me: Why? Why, Dad?

Dad: Because my daughter is better looking and has nicer clothes.

So, there you have it. Out of the mouths of elders. Now you know why I was at Nordstrom last night. I hope my purchase will help my father to recognize me when I see him next week.

Oh, and by the way, I will be returning to Airport Economy Parking. The $225 treat myself, valet bill could have paid for my under-eye concealers.