Mrs. Brown was once a very beautiful young woman. Her thick brown hair was always styled, her make-up applied before she left her bedroom, and her dress was impeccable. A charm school graduate, she was always perfectly poised, always polite, always a smile on her face. She appeared perfect.
She married young, and divorced young, which at that time was still shameful. It was something to be hidden, forgotten, and never spoken of. When she was in her 30’s she met an older man, a doctor. He, too, was a divorcee and had a family with his ex-wife. They married and had one child. A daughter. Her name is Lisa.
They had the fairy tale life, almost. Having been divorced, the good doctor had no house and an alimony payment. He did make enough for his new bride to be a stay at home mother, but they lived in rental homes. In the best neighborhoods, of course. Tragedy struck when their precious three year old girl became sick. I can’t remember what she had, I didn’t know her at the time, but apparently it was pretty bad.
The illness passed, but it left a huge wake of damage behind. Physically, Lisa’s legs became bow-legged and she had lost 80% of her hearing, but she was still a lively child. With the help of a hearing aid, and the luck that this illness had struck after she had already learned to speak, Lisa’s life didn’t really change much. She was a child, played like a child, spake like a child, and did childish things. She grew up to be a beautiful young lady, of which her mother and father were both very proud.
The majority of the damage done by this disease was to Lisa’s mother. Mrs. Brown sat by helpless while her daughter’s body fought off whatever raged inside of her. Mrs. Brown did everything she could to try to make sure her child came through ok, medications, physical therapy, whatever needed to be done, Mrs. Brown made sure it was done. She worked with Lisa every day to re-develop her communications skills. She worked with Lisa every day to make sure she could walk, skip, jump, and run like any other child. Doctor’s appointments, physical therapy, whatever it took, she made sure it was done.
This woman was admired by everyone who met her. She had incredible strength, determination, and devotion when it came to her family, to her child. When Lisa wanted to go into Gymnastics, her mother found other interested professionals to go into opening Bakersfield’s first gymnasium, The American Acadamy of Gymnastics. Only the best would be teaching her daughter. Lisa also liked to skate, so her mother put her in skating lessons. Not just regular skating lessons at Roller Town, the popular skating rink, but with a professional trainer.
I never thought much about Lisa’s mom when we were growing up. She was much like my mom: always groomed, kept the house neat, had dinner ready for dad when he came home, and took us places when we wanted to go somewhere. I preferred to have sleepovers at my home instead of hers because her mother was a little more strict than my mom. We could stay up later, watch cable, go swimming, talk all night at my house. At her’s, lights out and quiet at bedtime. Her mother had ears like a dog; she heard everything.
It wasn’t until high school that I started to notice odd things about Mrs. Brown, odd to me anyway. Lisa didn’t get to pick her classes, her mother did. If Lisa didn’t study for a test, her mother would call in sick for her that day so she would be able to get extra studying in before she took it. Lisa wasn’t able to go anywhere by herself, and by herself I mean without an adult.
I was going to the mall by myself in Junior High. Mom would drop me off to meet my friends, if we didn’t pick them up on the way, and then I would call her when I was ready to go or, on some days, we would meet at a designated time. Lisa was not able to go to the mall with me, or any of her other friends, unless Mrs. Brown or my (or whoever’s) mother was in attendance. Lisa didn’t ride the bus to school in Junior high, her mother dropped her off and picked her up, while most of us kids who lived farther away than her would either ride the bus or ride our bikes to school. Lisa wanted to do these things, too. She would beg to ride her bike with us to school, or take a class she wanted to take, but her mother always had her way.
Her mother always had to know who she was talking to on the phone. When she stayed over, my mom had to tell her what the exact plans were for that evening. Movies, even age appropriate ones, had to be approved by Mrs. Brown or Lisa was not able to sleep over. By the time I was 16 I realized that Mrs. Brown controlled every facet of Lisa’s life. Every facet. I started to not like Mrs. Brown.
I’m starting to understand her now.
Rachel is my only daughter, and I am so afraid that something will happen totally out of my control and I’ll…..lose her. Last week I had a dream that she died and there was nothing I could do. A couple of days later she got sick, a high fever, and then a couple days after that the vomiting started. We took her to the doctor but he said she looked fine: alert, not crying out in pain when he touched her tummy, clear lungs, strong heartbeat, and no ear infection.
Bring her back Wednesday if she still has the fever, he said.
We brought her back Wednesday, and again on Friday. 8 days of 102+ fevers, which were kept down to normal with Tylenol and Ibuprofen alternating every four hours. She cried at night, and my independent child wanted cuddles and arms to hold her all the time. I came home from work on Tuesday, and as I stepped through the door I heard her weak little cry come from the bedroom.
Her father put his finger to his lips, “Shhhhh, she’s sleeping.”
“No she’s not, I just heard her cry.” I go into the bedroom and she’s huddled in the corner of the crib, her face pale, eyes rimmed with red and dark circles beneath her eyes. She looked like a baby zombie. My heart hurt, and I picked her up and held her, comforted her as best I could.
I was going nuts. What the hell was wrong with my baby? Rachel was going to bed later and crying out at night in pain, so I would wake up and comfort her. When I got home from work it was all about holding her, trying to get her to eat, whatever. She had her good days, and she was usually ok when the medicine was in full effect, but you could always tell when she was starting to feel worse because she would whimper and cry out.
At one point she didn’t have a fever for 24 hours, and I was so relieved. I had found out that day that all the kids in her daycare either had or were now coming down with the stomach flu. It had to be over, she was on the mend, but the next night she went from normal to 102.2 in an hour, and the next morning she was 103.7, and that’s without adding the extra degree your supposed to add when taking the temperature from the armpit area. 103.7 was high enough, I wasn’t mentally prepared for 104.7. I probably would have just taken her to the hospital.
I made a doctor’s appointment instead, and they took a urine sample and discovered that she has a UTI. I was so very happy to hear this because I had thoughts like LEUKEMIA running around my head. Those are not thoughts you want to be thinking, but I was freaking out. So as of right now she has had two doses of her antibiotic and is resting peacefully in her swing that she has actually outgrown but still likes anyway.
Tuesday we’ll get the culture results from the sample that they took, and then when she is done with the antibiotic I need to take her back in to find out if there is a “structural” defect in her urinary tract causing the problem. I’m fine with this, because now I know what it is, why she’s getting the fevers.
Now I just have to make sure I don’t turn into Mrs. Brown. I know Rachel didn’t have any life-threatening disease, but I can understand why Mrs. Brown was such a control freak with her daughter. I want my daughter to live her own life, make her own mistakes, make her own triumphs, and not ones that I make for her. Lisa cannot make a decision to save her life to this day, her mother still decides everything from what I hear. I want my daughter to find her own way in the world and be happy, and I want to be able to let go and let her do things for herself.
If I’m a good mother, my little bird will not only be able to fly when she leaves the nest, but she will soar….
“Come dance with the west wind,
And touch on the mountain tops,
Sail over the canyons,
And up to the stars.
And reach for the heavens,
And hope for the future,
And all that we can be,
Not just what we are…”