Friday, October 22, 2010

Skin Deep

The box of glass plates removed from the display rack was heavy. Mr. Wong offered to lug it for Mrs. Liu, who was a tiny woman in her seventy’s. She was so tiny, in fact, that she had to shop her clothes in children’s department, then had them altered to fit her properly.

Mom’s display rack had some knickknacks only she found precious. The rest of us were happy to see it go--especially Mr. Wong, who was also our realtor.

I opened the front door for them. The cold air and grey skies reminded me again this was not California, and how I missed it.

Mr. Wong was supposed to hold the dolly that had the box of glass while Mrs. Liu and I unloaded the plates from the box to the back of her car.

He let go and the box fell, without my knowledge, behind my back, hitting my right heel.

I grabbed my heel and stopped breathing. They were shocked and asking me if I was alright. I couldn’t speak for a few seconds.

When the pain subsided I lifted the pant and found a piece of skin missing. Some blood was dripping and the heel around it already turned blue.

I assured them I was fine, but might need to put a Band Aid on it, and went back upstairs half limping.

Mom was either trying to call someone or playing her handheld toy. She asked me if I remember to take the keys back and I told her what happened.

She said, “You sure know how to pick a fine place to stand.” without once looking up.

I found a Band Aid and went to the bedroom.

Of all the arguments we had over throwing her possessions away, this comment hurt me the most.

It was understandable she was infuriated by my actions in the past two weeks, even though she knew they were the right actions, and she had no idea where to begin if I hadn‘t done it for her. I knew it must be hard to be parted with her worldly possessions and move eight hundred miles away.

She was not trying to be cold. I was expecting too much.

I was silly to think now that she was going to live with me, somehow I would get a loving mother that I never had.

Growing up with a pair of self-centered parents, I should know better. They both were buried in their own miseries that life, and themselves, had brought on. No one had doted on me since I was a child. I should know not to rely on anyone emotionally. I have finally learned to be happy.

So why couldn’t I stop my tears?

Am I still trying to fill that void unconsciously no matter how hard I tried to ignore it consciously? I’m relatively smart and somewhat educated. I know a lost cause when I see one--most of the time.

What stubborn and unexplainable force possessed me to think if I looked hard enough I would find what I was missing?

Sometimes, some people are just skin deep. They are what you see.


  1. I found this to be particularly touching. My own mother was difficult and self-serving. She made my life pretty difficult. Even so, when she began talking about getting too old to live by herself, I told her she could always live with me. My sister, Mother's clone, had already said in no uncertain terms that Mother absolutely could not live with her. And since Mother had threatened to kill my brother's wife with a gun, she certainly couldn't live there, either. She ended up living with my younger brother, her favorite child, only to discover when it was too late, that my brother's wife was an awful lot like her. Mother turned me down when I told her she could live with me. I think she was afraid of pay-back.

  2. Trying to fill the void that line! A poignant piece...

  3. Judie, it was not an easy decision. I pride myself a volunteer who's willing to help strangers. What kind of person would I be if I can't help my own mother? I knew it would be difficult, but I couldn't let her live by herself anymore. She might be found dead alone in her house. I just can't bear that thought. But I also question myself if I had chewed off more than I could digest. :) This will be an interesting learning process for both of us. Your mom missed out when she refused your offer. You would've been a much better choice for her.

  4. Melissa - you will be shocked to know the kind of stupid things I've done while trying to fill that void...:)

  5. Sarah, i am liking the new background of your blog. Very fresh and light. :)

    I found this post spoke very loud to me about the kind of person you are. A good one with a lovely soul. To take your mother in despite of such a difficult relationship, that's so admirable. I don't know if i could have done it.

  6. Lou - I'm really not as nice as you think. I wish I were, but there is a selfish reason for me to do this. I can't let people say my mom has awful children and they let her live alone in her old age. I'm also not sure if the challenge will be too great for both of us. I guess I need to accept her as she is, which will be a big lesson all in itself.

  7. Sarah, thanks for the comment on my post. We are going through a rather difficult time right now. Our little Yorkie is in pretty bad health and we think the end is near.

  8. The hardest thing in the world is to accept a parent for what he/she is, especially when we want so badly for them to be different. Sigh.

  9. I've been missing for so long. My thoughts have been with you though and are still. Good luck my friend.

  10. Betty - that is the hard part. I have to remember I can only change me, not anyone else.

    Tina - long time no see! Hope your second novel is going well. I miss you!

  11. Thanks for you kind words on my blog, Sarah. She is so little, and so helpless, but still she knows us, and sleeps right up against me at night. This is going to be really hard. She is a fighter!

  12. Another poignant one, Sarah. Thanks!

  13. I just want to give you a hug. We have all done stupid, stupid things to fill that void that can never be filled. Please ease up on yourself!
    Lots of love,

  14. Robyn - thank you for your kind words and love! I do need to ease up on myself. Most of the miseries we suffer were caused by ourselves, weren't they?

  15. It's for this very description that I could never ever have my mother live with me. It will be a learning process and you will be better for it I'm sure. You may just need to remind yourself of this fairly often. :-)

    How I wish I did get this opportunity with my dad. He stayed with me often and was so wonderful to be around. Right before he was diagnosed with cancer but knew he was sick, he finally gave into the idea of moving north to live with me. Sadly, he never got to make the trip...

  16. Charlene - isn't dysfunctional family a joy? I think I need to do what you said, and try to take "me" out of the situation a LOT. It will be interesting to see what I learn through this. Your dad and you got the rare chance of spending time together, and yes, it was all too short.

  17. Sarah, yes! Big hugs to you, my friend. xo

  18. Relatively smart, Sarah, really?!? It's not nice to tell lies. Like Robyn said, all I want to do right now is give you a huge hug. You're a good person, Sarah.

  19. Sarah,I do have one painting for sale, and it is $40,000,000. No, wait! I have another one here for $350 plus shipping! Take your pick!!

  20. Sarah, are you serious? I thought you were just kidding around! A few of my paintings on my blog are really for sale. If you are interested for sure, tell me and I will let you know what I have available. If you are not serious, I still adore you!!

  21. Sarah - ha, I guess I have to change it to "not that smart" instead. :) No I'm not that nice either, but thanks for the vote of confidence!

  22. Sarah, could you email me, please? My email address is on my blog. Thanks.

  23. Oh Sarah ~ I had no idea you had finally made this decision. I am so with you and I mean that with all my heart. I cared for my parents and though it was never easy, I have no regrets.

    I think you are amazing and loving and giving. I wish we lived closer so I could support you in this. Please know that I am hear anytime you need an ear. I mean that!

  24. Marla - your moral support means a lot to me. Thanks! She broke her wrist from a fall and hit someone from behind when driving in less than a month. I finally talked her into moving in with me and she agreed. It's not going to be easy and how I wish I lived right next to you, too!



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