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A Good Day (if harrowing)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

My day started innocently enough. I awoke before six, saw that it would be clear and sunny, and immediately had a bad premonition that something awful was happening to my mom. Crying, for no reason other than knowing it was happening, and feeling helpless to stop it. I'd had another premonition that she would come to harm on Saturday night--bad enough that I called her to see if she was OK. She was. But sure enough, she took a bad fall on Sunday afternoon, characteristically didn't tell anyone about it, and by this morning she was hurting so badly that she asked my sister to take her to the ER where they live in Maryland.

I continue to be amazed at the mind's ability to connect to someone else's pain and suffering. I knew on Saturday that something bad was about to happen to Mom, and this morning I was sure something bad had happened, just as she was waking up and hurting, over 350 miles away. I opened my email, and one came in from my sister, saying Mom had fallen. After most of the day waiting to be seen in the packed ER, it was determined that nothing was broken, but she has a badly bruised tailbone, and a load of prescription pain medication. We're deeply thankful she dodged the bullet (mostly) this time. And I am doubly resolved to listen to my little voice even closer from now on.

On the day my father died in 1994, I was painting a big backyard feeder scene, the sun streaming in the window of my Ohio studio onto my paper. I suddenly emerged from my right-brain haze, thinking, "I need to call Mom and see how Dad is." I looked at the clock: 10:39 AM. I picked up the phone, dialed the number of his room at the nursing home in Virginia, and quickly changed my mind, hanging up just before it rang. "I'll give her a few minutes with Dad. He needs her," I thought. I waited twenty minutes, and called again. "He just passed," Mom sobbed. At 10:39 AM, April 10, 1994.

I am sure that we all have such connections and seemingly psychic abilities. Animals have them and use them all the time. We suppress premonitions and feelings of dread, and tell ourselves we're crazy when we have them. We should listen to our subconscious. It knows things we cannot know.

My sister Micky is probably the best at listening to her subconscious voice. We have a family story about her that raises the hair on my arms even today. My mother was an avid bridge player, and she met every few weeks with a bridge club in our neighborhood in Richmond. One of the ladies in the club was, shall we say, not known for her culinary contributions. We'd always ask Mom what Virginia had brought to the potluck when she got home. This time, Micky made a prediction as Mom was getting ready for her night out.

"I'll bet she brings English Pea Salad," Micky proclaimed.
" And I'll bet she drops it before she walks in the door."

We could hardly wait for Mom to get home that night. She finally came in around 11, smelling of cigarettes and stale perfume. We crowded around when she came in the door. "What did Virginia bring?" we chorused.
Mom went pale as a sheet.
"Virginia brought a big glass bowl of English Pea Salad. And she dropped it on the front stoop as she was coming in the door." We dissolved in gales of amazed laughter. Of course, Mom hadn't had the heart to tell anyone about Micky's prognostication, for fear of embarrassing Virginia, so she'd had to hold it in until she could race home to tell us Micky had been dead right.


There's got to be a way to harness power like that. For starters, I'd like to take Micky with me to Arkansas and Florida, and hunt us up some ivorybills.

From there, my day definitely improved. I got a sitter for the kids, and Bill took me to Parkersburg WV to finish up our Christmas shopping. If there's anything more fun than outfitting willowy Phoebewith a new winter wardrobe, I'm hard pressed to think what it would be. We had a blast. I called my sister's house and found out that Mom hadn't broken anything. Bill and I had a lovely dinner out to celebrate. I called home to check in and Phoebe told me that one of my commentaries had aired on NPR. It's about Christmas caroling. You can listen to it here.

Bless Mom's bones, the power of the subconscious, and the little voice within. It was a good day.


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