Having recently been prescribed some painkillers, and realizing that I’m a total light weight in that arena, I was reminded of an incident from my younger days.
Alan and I were living in Windsor, as were my parents. My sister, Chris and her husband lived in London, about two hours away. One day, suddenly, tragically and far too young, my sister’s mother-in-law died. We decided that we could drive my parents to the funeral in our car.
Our car at the time was a bright red two-door Tracker. Fun as heck, but not entirely conducive to long drives with the over-60’s.
On the first leg of the trip, my Mum decided it would be best if Alan and Dad took the front seats and the ladies went in the back. Alan was driving and, because of my Dad’s very long legs, this seemed like a good idea. The fact that my Mum had trouble getting into the back seat didn’t really register with anyone until we pulled up at the first rest stop and Mum was stuck. Between the MS and the long time sitting, she just could not negotiate the space from the seat to the door. The fact that she then got the giggles helped matters not one bit. My mother always got the giggles when she got stuck. It was truly charming.
Alan finally opened up the back door, put his hands under her arms and gave an almighty heave to my Dad, who caught her and pulled her the rest of the way. Disaster averted we made our way to the bathrooms. Standing by the sinks, my Mum looked at me intently. “What’s your problem?” she asked.
“Cramps.” I told her. Because, as with every family funeral since I hit puberty, my period had started that morning. My mother, who by then was blissfully menopausal sighed in relief that I wasn’t being moody. “I keep forgetting you get those!” she said happily, opening up her purse. I was twenty seven. “Here. Have one of these.” She handed me a pill.
Because she was my mother and a nurse, I took it.
Back at the car, we decided it would be better to switch seats. Dad and I were in the back and Mum was up front as we hit the highway again. I tried not to let on as I started feeling odder and odder. And odder.
When we pulled up at the funeral home, it was my turn to get stuck in the back seat. Alan was confused. “What’s the matter with you?” he asked, giving my arm a pull.
“I don’t know,” I told him. “Mum gave me something…”
Finally out of the car and getting ready to head inside, I asked her, “What the hell did you give me??!?!??!”
She looked confused. “Just a Tylenol 3. Why?”
I drooled at her incoherently.
“Oh. Is it affecting you?” she asked wiping my mouth. I nodded. “Funny. I pop them like candy.”
I had a whole new level of respect for my mother after negotiating that parking lot.
Once inside, there was the fresh horror of needing to interact respectfully with my brother-in-law’s family. Since leaving the surly teen years, one of the over-riding principles I live by is to not humiliate the ones I love the most. Making sympathetic conversation while stoned was not the surest path to this goal.
I think I did OK. I hope I did OK. John’s family are truly lovely people and the most polite crowd you could ever hope to meet, so if any of them suspected that there was something up with Barb that day, I will never hear about it.
Of course, the absolute pinnacle moment came when my sister, completely unaware of what was happening, decided to introduce me to the bishop, a close friend of John’s family and someone I just really did not want to annoy in any way. I had managed to deflect the introductions a few times, bolting for the bathroom or hiding behind a potted plant, but eventually, she cornered me and before I had a chance to say, “I can’t, Mum got me stoned,” the introduction was made.
It went well. At least, I think it went well. I don’t actually remember. I have no idea what I said to the man, but Alan assures me that I had at least stopped drooling by then.
I slept in the car all the way home.
My capacity hasn’t changed at all in the intervening years, but at least I know what I’m taking.