Shookie’s quest for fitness

Three years ago today at about 9:56 PM, my Mom died. Since she died nothing has been the same, so many things have changed in my life, I am not even the same person anymore. I wonder if she is proud of me or is she ashamed of me. I have done things that good little Indian boys aren’t supposed to do, but she knew I wasn’t happy the last few years that she was alive. She lived with us for the last four years of her life.
When my Mom moved in with us, she was still spry (as spry as one could be at 78 years old). I could leave the house and just mention, ‘hmmm, I really feel like having daal, rice and curry chicken,’ and BAM when I get home there it is, a FEAST! She was good for the first year, but slowly her heath started to degenerate. She had diabetes, high blood pressure, glaucoma, and she had the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s Disease, we didn’t know how how bad it would eventually get, but I’ll tell you more about that later.

As her health started to degenerate, she would basically just sit on the couch watching TV. My dog was with her all day, as well as the two cats. They kept her company as my wife and I both had to go to work. Although my mother would not hug and kiss my dog and cats like I did, she did love them. We never were the ‘touchy feely’ family so everything remained unsaid. I would come home and she was still waiting up for me, all these years later, she still waited up for me until I got home. I used to get mad because I knew she should be asleep, as I would have 13 hour days, I left at 8 AM, and sometimes didn’t get home until 12 PM.
I hadn’t really spoken to my mother the time I was married. She lived in The Bronx, and we lived up in Warwick, so it was difficult with life and all. Coupled with the fact my wife didn’t really like my mother, it just gave me an excuse to not see her. I really disliked going back to The Bronx, even though I was raised there I don’t care for the old neighborhood that much. It’s fun to wax poetic about it now, but in reality I was done with NYC in general. I also hated the fact that when I did go to visit her, I could never find parking, which frustrated me so that I wanted to scream!
So she continued living with us each day seemingly getting worse, it was difficult to see this. My mother raised me by herself, we lived in the east Bronx and she worked in Washington Heights. She would get up at 5 AM everyday and travel almost 2 hrs each way to get to work by 7 AM, until 3PM. EVERY DAY for almost 20 years. I was a latch key kid, I would usually get up at 6 AM, and watch tv until I had to leave for school. Sometimes I ate, sometimes I didn’t, not because we didn’t have foo, but because I didn’t know then what I know NOW about proper nutrition. I actually hated the two days she was off, it usually meant she was going to make me do something in the house, you know how you get when you’re young and your parents are around…
She retired in 1992 when I was in college at SUNY New Paltz. I was happy she retired, because I knew it was tough to be working so hard for so long, she didn’t have nay want for money as she saved a lot of money–that is when I couldn’t get to it! But she was never one to say no to me, but she always made me work for it. When I bought my Commodore 64, she would give me the $200 for it, I had to work at my paper route job and save the money. She did end up giving me the last few dollars to buy a tape drive when I bought my computer.
Although there was never anything I had a want for, BECAUSE of my mother. My mother grew up with nothing and I was her life, my mother had 12 miscarriages and I was lucky #13, that’s why I am so damned spoiled! She always wanted a better life for me, that’s why she busted her butt to put me thru college and give me everything that she never had. Don’t get me wrong she made me earn it, and she did instill in me that I needed to work, and not be a bum. After all these years I still do have a great work habit, I also have a great vacation habit, but the work is more important to me and I actually do enjoy it!
After graduating college I worked for a short time with the NFL and later went on to own a couple of Domino’s Pizza stores, even though I did well, you can never please an Indian mother. She would tell me, ‘I sent you to college and you are still a pizza man!’ I would reply, ‘but Ma, I’m the HEAD pizzaman!’ She got it, but she was a little weary, as I said you can never truly please an Indian mother!
I got married in 1999, I was very happy, I had a lovely wife and things were seemingly going well. But as the years went on we kept growing apart much to my dismay. There came a point where I didn’t even care to share the same bed as my wife for about the last 5 or 6 years of marriage. I had fallen out of love with her. What was my problem, or was it her problem, or were we just not meant to be together? It was all perplexing.
As I was telling you my mother came to live with us, and coupled with my crumbling marriage, her presence only exacerbated the disdain between my wife and myself. She kind of didn’t want her to live with us and she made it fairly obvious–but she’s my Mom what can I do? I told my wife ‘don’t make me choose, because you might not like what I choose!’ That seemed to be the death nail in the coffin which was our marriage.
I have told this story sundry time,s but I think it’s still worth telling. My mother had a stroke just after Valentine’s Day. She was in the hospital for several weeks, and there was brain activity, but the prognosis was dire, she wasn’t coming back. I had a living will and we expected DNR if something happened. She was moved to a nursing home for hospice care after two weeks. I visited my mother ONCE while she was in the hospital. I just don’t do well in hospitals, I can count on my ONE hand the amount of times I have been to see someone in the hospital. Although it was my mother and I loved her very much I still couldn’t muster up the courage to go and see her. She was very bloated from the medications I assume and I held her hand and talked to her, as if she could hear me. I told her I love her, something I never did when she was alive a, as I said we were never the ‘touchy feely’ family!
And that was it, I went to walk my dog later on tonight three years ago, and I was crying and crying and crying, I just couldn’t sop crying. I didn’t know what was going on, the more I tried to stop crying, the more the tears would roll down my face. I couldn’t stop. Even my dog looked at me as if I was crazy, they say animals know, and seemed like my dog cuddled with me a little bit more that night and the nights after that! It had been raining that night and was misting when I was walking the dog, but then all of a sudden the sky cleared from what I remember, and I stopped crying just like that. I realized then that my mother had died. I went back to the house and I had a good feeling about me as if something had been lifted off my back, and I had a feeling everything would be OK.
My friend Meg dying earlier this month has only made those feelings come back, we dated for about a year and just fell out of touch because after my mother died, I just shut myself off from the world. I wouldn’t even let her in and I loved her dearly. We grew apart as I was miserable for about a year. Since she died I have been so very sad, I feel like I let her down and I feel like I should have been there for her as she seemingly went into a spiral after I shut myself off. It breaks my heart think about it, coupled with the fact that she was only 42 years old, 4 days shy of being 43, it just kills me. I have shed so many tears, I just don’t know where they come from–so very sad.
So I say on this terrible anniversary, I hope Meg and my mother have met in heaven and looking down on me, I think she would have loved Meg as Meg was such a sweetheart, she had such a good heart, in the end that heart was the ultimate problem. I will NEVER forget her, we met so long ago and it took me 25 years to ask her out and I was so happy she was with me. All I am let with now are what if, and should I have done, and all the things that weren’t said. I will always carry this with me, and I can never forgive myself for her death.
Ma and Meg, I know you are in a better place now. I sometimes wish I could be there with you, as some of the trial and tribulations I face on a daily basis seem insurmountable. My world hasn’t been the same since you both left. I KNOW you both are in a better place because you were good people, and I hope I to see you again. I love both of you and miss you more than I can express.

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