Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Communication Age

Trudy called me crying again the other night because no one visits John. By "no one," she means Karla and Leo. She didn't mention either of them by name because she is angry with Karla, and Leo no longer speaks to her.

I am exhausted. Not so much from spending most of my free time at the hospital entertaining my dad for the last two months, but from spending most of my free time at the hospital with Trudy for the last two months. Not to mention her frequent phone calls, instant messages and emails. I haven't had this much contact with my mother ever before in my entire life. That was always my sister's area.

So, I sent an email to Karla. It read:

"I was at the hospital this morning before work. I just missed the doctor, but the nurse told me that on top of everything else, Dad now has a urinary tract infection. He is very weak and listless. The nurse said the infection can do that and can add to his confusion. I also think he is lonely and could use more visitors. He likes it when I bring my computer and play a movie for him. Should we make up a schedule and each try to visit for a couple of hours 2 or 3 times a week?"

No response.

The next evening Trudy called me at about 10pm. I was on a deadline, so I was still at work. Within less than a minute she was ranting hysterically. There were tons of people around, but all I had to do was listen. "Why doesn't Karla visit? Ever since I needed money, I've been in trouble with those people. But why are they taking it out on John." (By, "those people," she meant her first born child and her husband, who have supported John and Trudy financially for years.) She continued, "This has been a very difficult time for me. I don't know how much more I can take!" You may think she was referring to her husband's slow decent into madness, coupled with his broken bones and various cancers. No. She was talking about losing money on an investment in Liberian goldmines that she went into with a well-known psychopathic Televangelist a few years ago.

(My parents always had some desperate, half-baked, shady get-rich-quick scheme going. And Trudy would always charm any of their friends and family members who had a few dollars into investing in it. They once had a petroleum company in Texas called, "Trude Oil." I remember sitting on the floor in the living room watching "Starsky and Hutch," when John ran in, picked me up and spun me in circles yelling, "We're rich! We're rich!" They had hit a geyser, just like in the movies. Unlike in the movies, the geyser only lasted for a few seconds and we were broke again by the 11 o'clock news.)

Next, Trudy moved on to complaining about a letter Karla wrote her years ago, which listed her grievances against our mother including, but not limited to, the fact that Leo, "always got the short end of the stick." This was Karla's delicate way of reminding Trudy that Leo had been molested in foster care. Trudy sobbed, "That is not true. I didn't even respond to that letter it was so ridiculous. I never put them in foster care! It was a babysitter! I was very busy at the Governor's office working on the Caryl Chessman case. The babysitter said, 'Why don't you just leave him here and pick him up on weekends?' So I did! I have to go. Traffic is getting heavy." Click.

I wrote a second email to Karla, entitled, "Did you get my email?" It read:

"John is very sick. Right now, the only person visiting him during the week is Mom, at night. I am coming on weekends, and when I can before work, but evenings I am at work until 10 or 11 every night. Dad is lying in a hospital bed all day by himself. He doesn't read, he can't really follow books, so he either watches tv or sleeps all day. He mostly refuses food, but he eats better when someone encourages him. He can't get out of bed or even sit up on his own. His arm, back and pelvis are healing very slowly. Mom is starting to snap. It would be great if you could spend some time with him. Read him the paper, watch a movie with him, or maybe get him into a wheelchair and bring him outside for a few minutes."

When I woke up the next morning there was an email from Karla. It was addressed to all of her close friends and family, excluding Trudy. The email announced the arrival of her 28 year old son's new puppy, "Princess Leia, who arrived last night via American Airlines!"

Late that afternoon, another email from Karla arrived:

"I will make every effort to visit when I can. I am also busy with getting moved in and workers needing my guidance during the day. Today is the first day since I’ve been back that I don’t have anyone working on something in the house. It’s difficult for me to even get to my email during the day when the house is filled with workers. So even though I may seem to have tons of free time, getting to the hospital during the weekdays is not always as easy as it may appear.

Would John listen to books on tape? Maybe that would be a source of entertainment for him."

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