Tuesday, January 26, 2016
My Biggest Irrational Fear
This was the very last picture ever taken of my mother (on the left). She died two days later. She and her friend (the woman on her right) had driven down to pick me and and the other woman's daughter (still a dear friend of mine) up from cheerleading camp and waiting on this bench together. It was August 17, 1977.
I'd had an epiphany the day before, after finding out Elvis had died. If you think it was a big deal when freaky Michael Jackson died wouldn't believe what a huge deal it was when the King of Rock and Roll kicked. It was massively huge.
I was a self centered seventeen year old who thought of no one but herself, much like every seventeen year old kid but when Elvis died totally blew my mind. If Elvis was gone, meant even we could be and just as suddenly!
I went to a phone booth in the dorm where we were staying at a small college for cheerleading camp and called my momma. "Yes I was shocked too" she said as I slumped to the floor in the corner of the phone booth. We talked for over thirty minutes. I hadn't had a conversation that long with her since I was in elementary school. Once you're a seventh grader you don't need parents; they only get in your way, embarrass you and always say no when you ask to go somewhere really cool.
I told my mother between many sobs and tears how much I did love her and how sorry I was for being such a selfish brat. She listened quietly, calmed my fears and told me not to be upset. Then she said this...
"Don't worry, not even for a minute. I've always known you love me even when you acted like you didn't... and I love you too."
My mother died two days later after picking me up from that cheerleading camp. She and my older sister took me shopping for my senior year of high school starting the next week. I was in the dressing room, trying on a pair of jeans when my sister screamed. I came out to see my mother clutching a rack of clothes, pulling it over as she fell. She opened her eyes once to look at me as I shouted "Momma". Her eyes seemed glazed over and then shut.
My sister started CPR while the sales lady called 911. My father got to the store from his work as they were loading her into the ambulance and he went with her. My sister and I followed in her car. Downtown Atlanta traffic on a Friday afternoon was bad, even in 1977 and the ambulance made it to the hospital before we did.
We were quickly ushered to a room to find my father sitting all alone with a phone book open calling someone to go pick my brother up from the grocery store where he was working. He looked up at us both after hanging up the phone and simply said "Your mother didn't make it."
She died on Friday afternoon and her funeral was on Sunday. My father even went to church on Sunday morning before her funeral that afternoon in the sanctuary. Both our parents were devout Christians and think Diddy (what we called our father) simply needed to be with his God.
We had it all. Two wonderful parents and the best upbringing a kid could ever dream of having.
Monday morning it was back to business for my father. He went to work and sent me to the dentist for a previously scheduled appointment (by my mother) to have a cavity filled.
I already hated going to the dentist, we had a horrible one growing up. He was friends with both my parents but once he had you in that little room alone always barked "Take it like a trooper" and sometimes left you alone so long waiting the novacaine started to wear off...hence the "Take it like a trooper!"
We had a new dentist by then, a super nice guy and was a great thing. The bad thing is he didn't know my mother had suddenly died the previous Friday. He was trying to be nice and chat it up with me while drilling into my tooth. Unfortunately Elvis was still the hot topic and went on and on about how crazy it was Elvis had died. "You just never know when you're gonna go, do you? I still can't believe it, here one day and gone the next!"
The more he talked the faster my tears rolled. At the age of seventeen just didn't have it in me to tell him to shut up because my mother had just gone the exact same way forty eight hours ago.
I know he meant no harm and was just simply trying to make conversation while jabbing a drill into my mouth but couldn't run fast enough out of that office and waited, sobbing on the curb of the street to be picked up.
I'm almost fifty seven years old and haven't been in a dentist's chair since.
I know it's an irrational fear and close to being called crazy but have been called worse.
After all we've been through these past five years, guess God was getting me ready to face my biggest irrational fear.
My back teeth on both sides have broken. Didn't bother me much and don't show but one of them recently started killing me, excruciatingly so.
I finally have wonderful insurance again and the means to pay any extra it may cost so am going to face my biggest irrational fear... a dentist's chair.
Wish me luck!