A heart simpatico with mine

A couple, found dead in their car
this morning, were in their mid twenties, the newsreader said. They had parked
in bushland outside of Ballarat, a town renowned for its winter cold.  It seems the couple had been asleep
in their car where they tried to stay warm with heat from the running engine whose
fumes had overcome them along with their now dead dog.
My mother complained of cold
yesterday, too, when the physiotherapist, all blond hair and youth, asked if my
mother wanted to show her and her companion, the occupational therapist, how
she could sit on the edge of her bed. 
‘No,’ my mother said.  ‘It’s too cold.’
And why did they want her to sit anyway?
my mother asked. 
The OT explained how they needed to
get my mother up and moving to get her circulation going, and her lungs clear
with breathing and exertion.
‘You don’t want to get a chest
infection, do you?’
My sister and I stood at the foot
of our mother’s hospital bed and watched. 
I felt the urge to pitch in and help but these two young women had a system
for moving my mother and it was best not to interrupt. 
My mother’s body in her blue
striped hospital gown had shrunk, apart from her swollen belly, swollen through
an attack of pancreatitis.  Apparently,
there is not much the doctors can do for my mother’s condition now other than
offer relief.  The gallstones that block
her pancreatic duct cannot be removed through surgery or laser because of my
mother’s age and so it is a matter of time before she cops another attack. 
In the meantime, we try to keep her
comfortable and work out where to next.
Yesterday, the social worker
reassured my sister and me that nursing homes are not as they were in the past; not urine
soaked wards filled with withered bodies in single beds, and old people, mainly
women, languishing there. 
Staff in nursing homes are equipped
to assist people like my mother who cannot help themselves.  They have hoists above the beds for
For a long time now we have
promised our mother that when it comes time for her to die, we will do our best
to ensure it happens in her beloved retirement village room. 
But our mother is in this in
between place it seems, neither palliative nor able bodied enough to get back
to her retirement village, even with extra assistance.  Once a person is palliative and confined to
bed there is no further need for lifting and getting into chairs or onto
walking frames.  In that case she could go home to die.
I asked my mother if she thinks
about dying.  ‘All the time,’ she
I think about what it will be like,
but I never was a worrier.  What comes,
comes.  So we wait.’ 
My mother is sanguine when left
alone dozing in bed but as soon as a nurse comes to take blood and cannot find a
vein, or a physio arrives to test my mother’s mobility, she gets distressed
such that I cannot not believe her mantra about not worrying. 
Pain causes her to worry despite
her optimism.
I had another rejection for my book
yesterday.  I want to say nothing about
this to anyone. I want to hide the wound inside until the next time I try again
in the hope that someone will see merit in my writing and undertake to
publish my book, but the rejection sticks in the back of my mind and will not
release me. 
I flit from the thought that I
should shelve my book.  After four
rejections, it’s not working, to another thought: the people who have rejected
my book are not interested in my writing because they doubt its commercial
value. They doubt that it will attract a broad enough readership.  Fair enough. 
I have similar doubts, but then I think there’s a market out there
somewhere for a book like mine. 
I broke up with a boyfriend once
many years ago.  He was a stevedore who
worked with the large transport ships that docked in Port Phillip Bay.  He had come to Australia from South Africa
where his wife, whom he had one day caught in bed with another man, had
betrayed him.
He was a damaged soul, I reasoned,
and one in need of all the love and care I could offer.  But he offered little care or love in
return.  In time, I asked for more but he
stonewalled.  He was not interested in
feelings, his, or mine or anyone’s. So I left him alone in his second floor
kitchen in the St Kilda apartment that he shared with another man and never saw
him again. 
In those days I lived in Caulfield
in a flat, which I shared with a younger sister.  We had next to no furniture apart from a
couch and television, the two beds in which we slept, a laminated kitchen table and four chairs.  We were young, though
not as needy as the couple in Ballarat.
Every Saturday I took my load of
washing, sheets, towels and clothes to the laundromat nearby in Inkerman Street.  On this day, not long after I had broken off
with my stevedore, I had the thought that somewhere out there I was sure there
beat a heart simpatico with mine. 
Could not the same be true of a
publisher, a publisher with a heart in sync with mine? 

And in the meantime, I rattle
through my life, attend to my family, my work, and along with my mother, I