Month: December 2013

Take another little piece of my heart now, baby

Last time I went into Manhattan, I shared with you this shot of the tree in Rockefeller Center.

scantreeSome of you liked the image, but a few of you asked for a proper photo.  We were in the city yesterday, and this time, we brought back photos.

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Rockefeller Center was hopping, but that’s not what brought us into the city last night.  When we left Rockefeller Center, we strolled through Times Square – stroll is probably the wrong word – it would be more accurate to tell you that we shuffled through Times Square.  By now, as I write this, there are probably a million people crowded into Times Square in anticipation of tonight’s ball drop, but last night, one evening prior to New Years Eve, I would estimate that a quarter of a million people were already partying in Times Square.

But that, also, is not what brought us into NYC last night.  We were in the city for a Night with Janis Joplin.  When I think about the singers and musicians that I never had a chance to see live, Janis is at the top of the list.  I was, perhaps, just a couple of years too young, or came to my hippie creds just a little too late for Janis, who died in 1970.

I’m sure Janis never envisioned her life and her songs on Broadway and it is a little bit depressing to think of Janis Joplin on Broadway, but Mary Bridget Davies, who performs as Janis, is remarkable.  The music is everything you might hope for and more.  It is an extraordinary Broadway show.

After the show let out, in the cold night air, we strolled back to Penn Station, pausing for a moment at 34th Street to appreciate the view.

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Take another little piece of my heart now, baby.

Wishing you all a happy and healthy New Year.

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The Earless Pig – a Christmas Tradition

Some of you are familiar with the Christmas tradition that is the Earless Pig.  After all, last year, I told you all about the Earless Pig.  But some of you are still unfamiliar with the Earless Pig.  Perhaps a day will come when it’s not necessary for me to tell you the story, when the pig will be as famous as Rudolph, but until that time comes, you can come here for the story.

The Earless Pig

Like most animal statuary, the cement piglet looked forward to the day that he would sit proudly in someone’s garden.  Until then, he waited in the garden department at the local boxstore, pestering his father, as shoppers passed him by.  “Daddy,” he asked, repeatedly, “when will it be my turn?”  And his father, a wise, old pig would answer, “Soon, my son,” patting the little piglet on the head, “Soon.”

The piglet tried to be patient, but it was hard.  “Daddy, when will it be my turn?”

“Soon, my son.  Soon.”

But life can be cruel sometimes.  And so can the teenaged boys who worked in the garden department.  Perhaps it was an accident, just like the teenage clerk explained.  Perhaps when the bricks tumbled off the pallet, clipping the piglet in the head, shearing off his ears, perhaps it really was an accident.

It didn’t matter.  Looking in the mirror, the pig knew the truth.  No one would buy an earless pig.  Statuary sales were brisk that year, but the earless pig was stuck in the clearance bin.  The teenaged clerk laughed whenever he passed by the lonely pig.  The pig only wished the bricks that had removed his outer ears had rendered him deaf.  It couldn’t get any worse, the pig thought.  Then, the clerk had an idea, replacing the awful sign above the pig’s earless head.

CLEARANCE had been shameful enough.  Now, all the customers laughed when they saw the lonely pig, sitting alone in THE AISLE OF MISFIT STATUARY.

ImageChristmas carols wafted through the store, shoppers hustling and bustling, eager to complete their holiday errands.  The pig watched from his place in the clearance bin, his porcine heart breaking.  Still, he put on a brave face.  “When will it be my turn?” His father, long departed to a rhododendron garden in the suburbs, the pig’s question went unanswered now.  It seemed so very long ago, but there was a small place, deep inside the cement pig, a place where hope still lived.

A young boy came down the aisle.  “Are we done yet?”

“Soon, my son.  Soon.”  And the man patted his son on the head.  “I just need to find one more thing.”

“How about that?” the boy asked, pointing to the earless pig.

The man laughed.  “That’s perfect.”

The pig heard the man laugh, but this time it was different.  There was a lightness to his laugh, a joy.  And just like that, they picked the pig up off the shelf and placed him carefully in their shopping cart.

Unable to contain his excitement, it was all the earless pig could do not to go wee wee wee all the way home.  But he was a private sort of pig, a cement pig, and he never showed his emotions.  Under the circumstances, he allowed himself the slightest smile.

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He was going home.  The pig was nearly dying of anticipation.   What kind of home was he going home to?  It seemed like forever, there in the car.  But when he got to the house, the people shoved him in a bag, nearly suffocating the little pig with paper.

And that was it.  His hopes, his dreams… a real home… why had they bothered to buy him, if all they were going to do with him was toss him in a bag and forget about him?  It was nearly Christmas and he was worse off than he was in the boxstore.  After waiting for months on the clearance shelf, even a day alone in the bag was more than the little pig could manage.  Never had the pig known such despair…

“I nineteen.

The humans were speaking in some sort of code.

“N forty-seven.

Earless and buried under pounds of paper, the pig could only guess at what might be happening in the world beyond his paper prison.

“BINGO!

There was a great commotion and suddenly the little pig could feel himself being lifted up, the paper being torn away, the crowd cheering.  Squinting in the sudden light, the pig looked around the room.  The Christmas tree… the mountain of gifts… the pig couldn’t make sense of the Bingo part, but sure as he was a cement pig, it was Christmas eve and he had just become a Christmas gift.  Better still, a Christmas prize.

When the party ended, the pig went home with his new family.  And it really was home.

EPILOGUE

And that, of course, is where our story should end, the earless pig, home at last.  But our story is not quite finished yet.  You see, all those months alone on the clearance shelf, our pig had allowed himself to dream.  At first, his dream had been simple.  A home.  But as days became weeks became months, he allowed himself another dream, a secret dream.

The time for dreaming was over.  It was time for the pig to act.

It was time for the pig to act, but try as he might, his efforts were getting him nowhere.  After an endless round of auditions, he came to the sad realization that casting directors were either unwilling or unable to cast an earless pig in a Hollywood blockbuster.

And so, the earless pig did the only thing left for him to do.  He started his own production company – Earless Pig Productions – and set out in search of suitable projects.  Now you might think that the pig planned to cast himself as the lead, but the earless pig was, in fact, a sensible pig (good sense being a rare commodity among both pigs and actors).  The pig was content to choose films that had a small, but significant part for an earless pig.  Perhaps you’ve seen him as the gopher in the Earless Pig Production of Caddyshack.  Or as the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in Ghostbusters.  As the Statue of Liberty in Planet of the Apes.

If history has taught us anything, it has taught us that the earless pig is preparing a Christmas surprise.  Variety is reporting that the pig is prepared to step out of the shadows, taking the lead role in this year’s holiday blockbuster.  But you have to believe.  And if you believe in the earless pig, you need to shout BINGO!  If enough people believe, if enough people shout BINGO, then on Christmas eve, shortly before midnight, the earless pig will make a yuletide appearance.

So it all comes down to this.  If you believe in the earless pig, you know what you have to do.  It’s in your hands now.

State Home for the Holidays, Part Two

Yesterday I posted Timothy’s Mother which is part one of State Home for the Holidays.  (If you haven’t read part one, you will find it here).  Today, as promised I am posting the second and final part of the story, Christmas Connect the Dots.

Christmas Connect the Dots

Christina walked from room-to-room in the empty split-level house.  More alone than she could ever remember, Christina couldn’t bring herself to decorate for the holidays.  Telling herself that she deserved a treat, she headed for the widely publicized, eagerly awaited grand opening of the Red Toad Shopping Plaza with its promise of opening day entertainment and everyday low prices.  Two hours later, tired but happy, she headed for home with a set of place mats decorated with four of the seven wonders of the world, a new pair of reading glasses, a bathtub stopper, a silk scarf, automobile deodorizer, two bamboo picture frames, a salad spinner, a reversible plastic tablecloth, gold earrings, pantyhose, a pizza to go, and for Timothy, for when she visited, if she visited, a Christmas connect-the-dots.

            As Christina pulled up in front of the house, she could hear the phone ringing inside.  Leaving her packages on the back seat, she grabbed the pizza and, fumbling with her keys, ran for the door.  Too late.  By the time she reached the kitchen, the phone had stopped ringing.

            Minutes later, it rang again.

            “Mrs. Hargrove, I’m glad I caught you.”

            “Who is this?”  Christina hated people who jumped right into conversations without identifying themselves.

            “I’m sorry.  This is Ms. Milligan,” she paused, expecting acknowledgement, “from Buena Vista.”

            “Omigod.  What’s wrong?”

            “Everything’s fine.  Really.  Timmy had a minor mishap, hardly worth mentioning.”

            Christina could feel the guilt expanding to fill her chest.  “What happened?”

            Ms. Milligan took a deep breath.  “Timmy slipped in the shower room; really it was nothing, just some minor bruising.”

Unable to sleep, Christina called her ex-husband at two in the morning.  “You’ve got to help me deal with this.”   George thought he had been a pretty good husband.  Apparently, Christina didn’t agree.  They had been married in the early days of the first Bush Presidency and, not unlike Bush Sr. he was thrown out just four years later.  But George agreed to go with Christina.

George tried to imagine what it must have been like for Timothy upon arriving at Buena Vista.  Even as a visitor, George found the hospital to be frighteningly weird.  They arrived late Christmas morning after driving north from the city for three hours.  Turning off the thruway, they drove the last hour on an unmarked road through the Catskills.  The road ended at an enormous Tudor manse; once a private estate, the house and surrounding property was now home to several hundred patients and staff.

            “Can I help you?”  After wandering around the deserted halls of the main building, growing more uncomfortable with each solitary minute, Christina was relieved to see another human being, the first since their arrival at the psychiatric facility.  Her name tag identified this large woman as Mavis Carter.

            Christina spoke up.  “We’re looking for our son.  We came to spend Christmas with him.”

            “My name is Miss Carter.  I’m a case aide.  Most of the offices are closed today for Christmas.  Let me check your son’s records and I’ll take you back to his cottage.  I think it’s wonderful that you came to spend Christmas with your son.  So many families forget.  What’s your son’s name?”

            Christina was growing impatient.  “Timothy, Timothy Hargrove.”

            “This will just take a moment.”  Miss Carter ducked into an office down the hall and returned carrying Timothy’s file.

            “I’m sorry.  Timothy just got here last week.  I’m afraid he’s not allowed any visitors yet.”

            “What do you mean he’s not allowed visitors?  I’m his mother.”  Christina was pissed.  “I drove three hours to spend the holiday with my son and I’m not leaving until I do.”

            “I’m sorry.  It’s not allowed.  See, here’s your signature.”  Miss Carter showed Christina a signed copy of the visitation agreement.  “Didn’t anyone explain this to you?”

            “I don’t give a damn about your rules.  I want to see my son.”

            George was not displeased to have an excuse.  “Christina, maybe we better just go.”     Christina turned her attention, briefly, to her ex-husband.  “If you can’t handle it, go wait in the car.”  George stood his ground, but closed his mouth.

            “Now where was I… oh yeah, look, who do I have to talk to to see Timothy?”

            “Dr. Viejo.  But he’s not here today.”

            “Then he won’t have to know that we broke the rules, will he?”

            “I can’t.  I’m sorry.”

            “Well I can.  Are you coming?”  Christina was barreling down the hall, while George was still rooted in place with Miss Carter.

            “Please, don’t make me call security.”

            From the end of the hall, Christina turned to stare at the case aide.  “You wouldn’t.  I mean, it’s Christmas.”

            Miss Carter relented.  “Wait.  I’ve got an idea.”

            Christina walked back slowly.  “Go on.”

            “I was thinking.  Lots of the kids won’t get any visitors today.  As long as you made the trip, why don’t you visit one of the others?”

            “Are you nuts?  Why would I want to do that?”

            “I don’t think you understand.  Why don’t you visit Timothy’s roommate?”

            “I don’t give a damn about his roommate.  I came to see Timothy.”  Christina was adamant.

            He knew it would be risky, but George decided to interrupt.  “I think that’s what she means.  Isn’t it Miss Carter?”

            “Yes.  Go down this hall and around the corner to the end.  You’ll see a covered walk to the cottages.  Timothy lives in Cottage 3.  Tell them you’re there to see Eberial Santoval.”

            “Thank you Miss Carter.  And Merry Christmas.”

            They were admitted without further incident into Cottage 3, where they found the children and staff celebrating Christmas.  The local Order of Buffalo had sent a Buffalo to the hospital to play Santa Claus, while several Buffalo Gals, dressed as elves, helped Santa distribute his sack of gifts.

            The children sat on the floor, some staring at Santa and the elves, some lost in their own private celebration, staff directing them to pay attention.  Buffalo Santa forged ahead.  One by one, he called up each child and offered a present.  George and Christina stood against the back wall watching as each child received a gift – puzzles, stuffed animals, bubbles, toy soldiers, whistles, coloring books.

            They feigned excitement when Santa called for Eberiel Santoval.  Santa had a special gift for Eberiel – medication.  Embarrassed that Christina should see this, one of the staff hurried over to explain.  “We’ve been having a problem getting Eberiel to take his pills so we thought, maybe if he got the pills from Santa, you know?”  Christina nodded her head ever so slightly and whispered, “I understand.”

            “Have you been a good boy this year?” Buffalo Santa asked Timothy.

            Ignoring the question, Timothy picked at a loose thread at Santa’s wrist.  Santa moved his arm.

            “What would you like for Christmas?”

            Timothy appeared to be deep in thought.  He looked up, connecting with Santa for just a moment.  “Hoo.  Hoo.”

            After Santa left, George and Christina visited with Eberiel and Timothy in their bedroom.

            “Give him the present Christina and let’s get out of here.”

            Christina held back.  “But I don’t have anything for Eberiel.”

            Her ex wanted to yell, but it was pointless.  Instead George pulled out his cell phone and began dialing.

            Christina giggled.  “That’s it.  Give me your cell phone George.”

            “What?”

            “Your cell phone.  It’s perfect.”

            George was ready for an argument, “Are you out of…” but he looked at his ex-wife, surprised to find Christmas reflected in her sad eyes.   “Here.   I was going to cancel the contract anyway.”

            Christina gave him a peck on the cheek.  “I’m sorry George.”  She gave Eberiel the cell phone and Timothy the connect-the-dots.  “Merry Christmas boys.”

            Eberiel pretended to make a phone call.

            Timothy chewed on his pencil.  “Hoo.  Hoo.”

            Christina smiled.  “I love you too Timothy.”

State Home for the Holidays, Part One

State Home for the Holidays is a bittersweet Christmas tale, the story of a mother’s enduring love for her child, in the face of insurmountable challenges.  I’ve posted it before, but in the spirit of Christmas reruns, I’m posting it again this year.  The story is written in two parts.  Today’s post is part one of the story, Timothy’s Mother.  Come back tomorrow for part two, Christmas Connect-the-Dots.

Timothy’s Mother

“God, I hate this,” Christina said to no one in particular, when she was startled from her reverie by the sounds of glass breaking, nurses screaming and Timothy’s infernal hooting.  She looked around at the assortment of waiting room faces – faces transformed by Timothy’s tantrum from boredom to entertainment to condemnation – and realized that she had long since surrendered the luxury of public embarrassment.  After years of these incidents, the only response she had left was fatigue.

          The day had started normally enough.  Timothy ran around the house, half dressed, while she struggled with breakfast.  Long ago, Sunday mornings had been her favorite time – sleeping late, making love and relaxing over a late breakfast and the Sunday paper, but that was a lifetime ago.  Now she was alone with Timothy who would be up and running before dawn.

          Christina climbed out of the seat and girded herself for the scene she knew awaited.  When she reached the examining room, she found Timothy and a nurse lying on the floor, struggling in a pool of blood and broken glass, Timothy’s right hand clutching the front of the nurse’s blouse and four orderlies lying on top of them in varying degrees of uselessness.  Meanwhile, an assortment of interns and residents watched from a corner of the room.

          It all started because of the chili cheese omelet.  You see, Timothy had to have a chili cheese omelet for breakfast every Sunday morning.  Somehow, I wish I could give that last sentence more emphasis.

          The Sunday morning chili cheese omelet was only one of many obsessions by which Timothy measured the passage of time.  Timothy had rituals for everything – eating, dressing, going to the bathroom.  He loved to watch toilets flush.  He especially liked to clog the toilet before flushing.  Timothy would flap his hands and giggle at some private joke, while the water cascaded over the side of the bowl, creating eddies around his sneakers.

          It was no use trying to ask him why he did what he did.  Timothy didn’t talk to people.  He repeated what he heard, TV commercials, mostly, which was odd enough without trying to figure out how Timothy memorized commercials, since he never really watched TV.

          Christina had overslept.  She jumped out of bed, threw on her robe and headed straight for the kitchen.  Timothy’s omelet would be late.  He was sure to pitch a fit.   Still, Christina had no choice.  Timothy’s tantrum would not end until his first, delayed, bite of omelet.  So she was busy blanching peppers and browning ground beef when, instead of screams, she heard silence in the house.  Bad as it was to hear Timothy screaming, Christina never really worried until it was quiet.  At least when Timothy made noise, she knew where he was.

          “Mrs. Hargrove?  Mrs. Hargrove?”  Christina suddenly realized that she had not heard a word that the doctor had been saying.  She looked across the desk at the orthopedic surgeon who had set Timothy’s arm, why can’t I remember his name, Christina wondered, a boyish, good-looking man, undoubtedly older than he looked since he looked to Christina barely old enough to be out of high school let alone be a doctor and a specialist at that but, when things got out of control in the emergency room, he had taken charge, lifting the orderlies off her son and disentangling Timothy and the nurse, who grateful  to escape with her blouse ripped, but her modesty intact, disappeared into the nurse’s station to repair the damage to her uniform and her psyche, and he had set Timothy’s arm, all the while talking to him in a soft, soothing tone, that seemed to calm her son and anesthetize the exposed nerve endings of the emergency room nursing staff.

          “Mrs. Hargrove, your son has a simple fracture of his left tibia.  I’ll want to see him in three weeks.  In the meantime, don’t let him get the cast wet and try to keep him from getting so worked up.”

          “I don’t mean to pry, Mrs. Hargrove, but it must be awfully hard to raise Timothy without any help.”  The boy surgeon hesitated, unsure how to continue.  “You seem like a nice lady… The state has homes for children like Timothy.  For his sake as well as your own, I think you ought to consider letting the state take care of your son.  I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve asked the hospital social worker to join us.”

          “Hon, I know this is hard for you,” Ms. Crandall empathized during the awkward moment that followed the boy surgeon’s introduction.

          Christina looked the social worker over.  Ms. Crandall was a large woman, statuesque as we used to say, dressed in a white pants suit and iridescent green blouse, clutching at a manila folder and  constantly pushing her oversized glasses up her equally oversized nose.

          Ms. Crandall continued.  “I know this all sounds heartless right now, but that’s only because we care about you and Tommy.  I put together some information about the state hospital.  Here.  Read it.  Think about it.”

          ‘Tina, after you read what’s in the folder, I’m certain you’ll understand what the doctor and I are saying.  I’m sure you’ll see that it’s really all for the best.  After you’ve had time to think about it, I want you to call me – I think we should talk some more.”

“God I hate this,” Christina screamed, her complaint echoing in the empty house.  It had started with a phone call from Mrs. Alvarez, the school’s vice-principal and disciplinarian.

          “Mrs. Hargrove I’m afraid we have a small problem.   We seem to have lost your son.”

          “What do you mean, you lost my son?”

          “Don’t get so excited Mrs. Hargrove.  I’m sure it’ll be okay.  It’s just somehow he slipped away from the other kids on the way to gym class and, well, to make a long story short, we don’t know where he is.  But I’m sure we’ll find him any time now.”

          “How long has Timothy been missing?”  Christina seemed to recall that gym class was in the morning.

          “Since about 10:00.”

          Christina looked at her watch.  It was almost 1:00.

          “What!  Timothy’s been missing for three hours.  What the hell have you been doing all this time?”

          “Mrs. Hargrove, please.  I realize this doesn’t look good, but we’ve got all the teachers we can spare looking for him.”

          “Doesn’t look good,” Christina screamed into the telephone.  “I don’t give a damn what it looks like.  That’s my son.  I’m coming down there now.”

          “No, please, Mrs. Hargrove.  We need you to stay by your phone.  The police have three squad cars out looking even as we speak.  They’ll call you as soon as they find him.”

          For the next two hours, Christina waited, helpless and hopeless.  She vacuumed her rugs; she mopped and waxed the kitchen floor.  She polished the furniture and the flatware.  She scrubbed the bathtub and scraped mold off the tiles.  She cleaned out the litter box and the refrigerator.  Finally, the phone rang.

          “Mrs. Hargrove?” an unfamiliar voice inquired.  “This is Sergeant Crum.”

          “Yes, yes.  Is Timothy all right?  Did you find him?  Please, tell me he’s okay.”

          “He’s okay, Mrs. Hargrove.  We found him north of town out near the Interstate.  He must have been walking for hours.  The boys told me he was just sitting at the side of the road when they found him, scooping up pebbles by the handful and watching them fall, one by one, back to the curb.  He didn’t seem to hear them when they called, but they put him in the patrol car and brought him back to the station.  He’s here now.”

          “I’ll be right there.”

          When Christina arrived at the station, it took her a moment to spot her son.  He was sitting on the floor next to the sergeant’s desk.  Handcuffed to a table leg, Timothy was contentedly dunking chocolate chip cookies in large glass of milk.

          Timothy didn’t acknowledge the arrival of his mother until she interrupted his cookie dunking.  Then, looking at her fleetingly out of the corner of his eye, he remarked with utmost seriousness, as if trying to convince her to let him return to his cookies and milk, “You’ll wonder where the yellow went, when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent.”

          “I’m sorry about the handcuffs, Mrs. Hargrove,” Sergeant Crum began when Christina introduced herself.  “All of a sudden, he started screaming and punching himself in the head and I didn’t know what else to do.  Sitting there now so quiet, it’s hard to imagine how such a little kid could raise such a ruckus.”

          “It’s okay, Sergeant.  I’m just glad he’s okay.  I guess I could use a set of these at home.  He’s getting to be more than I can handle.”

          “You know, I’ve been a policeman for eighteen years.  Before that, I served in Korea.  Any situation, no matter how dangerous, I’ve always been in control, always known I could handle whatever I had to.  I’m kind of embarrassed to admit I couldn’t handle your son.  I don’t understand, Mrs. Hargrove.  Pardon my asking, but what’s wrong with him?”

          Christina was touched by the sergeant’s confession.  She wished she could do something to make him feel better, wished, at least, she could answer his question.

          “I don’t know, Sergeant.  I just don’t know.”

“God I hate this.”

          Christina was sitting in Ms. Crandall’s office at the Red Toad General Hospital signing papers that would place Timothy in Buena Vista, the state mental hospital.

          “I realize how difficult this must be for you.”  Ms. Crandall stepped out from behind her desk.  She was even larger than Christina remembered.  In her black pants suit, she reminded Christina of her ex-husband George.  “I was so glad when you called about Buena Vista.  I didn’t think you were going to.”  Ms. Crandall smiled sympathetically.  Christina appreciated the social worker’s support.

          “I guess I always knew it would come to this one day.”

          “If you don’t mind my asking, Tina – may I call you Tina? – why now?”

          Christina had been asking herself the same question.  “It’s no one thing.  Certainly not the broken arm.  You know, Timothy got lost recently and the police had to find him.  He’s been a terror at school, got kicked out, but that’s not it either.  It’s not Timothy.  He hasn’t changed.  He never changes.  It’s me.  I just can’t handle it any more.”

          Ms. Crandall came over and stood next to Christina, who was seated at the desk.  She patted her on the arm.  “It’s okay, Tina.  You needn’t blame yourself.”

          “Thank you Ms. Crandall.”

          “Please… call me Sydney.”

          “Okay, Sydney.”

          “Now,” trying to sound upbeat, Ms. Crandall asked, “how are we coming on those forms?”

          “Well, I signed this one” – handing Ms. Crandall the medical authorization form, “and this one,” – the consent to photograph, “and this one and this and this” – the visitation agreement form, the bank account authorization form and the liability release form.

          “Okay, that’s great.”  Ms. Crandall smiled conspiratorially.  “That just leaves a few more.”

          Christina signed the religious preference form, the field trip consent form and the authorization for experimental therapies.  She sat staring at the one remaining form – the surrender of custody – unable to bring herself to sign it.

          Noticing her hesitation, Ms. Crandall asked, “Is there a problem Tina?”

          “Do I have to sign this one, Ms. Crandall?”

          “Sydney.”

          “Okay, Sydney.  Do I have to sign this one, Sydney?”

          “Yes Tina, you do.  This is the form that gives the state the authority to place Timothy at Buena Vista.”

          “I don’t think I can sign this one.”

          “I know how hard this must be for you, Tina, but you have to believe me, you’re doing the right thing.”

          “Tell me again about the care that Timothy will receive at Buena Vista.”

          Sneaking a peek at her wristwatch, Ms. Crandall tried not to sound impatient, but couldn’t quite manage it.  “Buena Vista is a model of modern psychiatric care.  You know you’re lucky to get Timothy in.  He’ll get everything he needs there.”

          “Will he get a mother’s love?” a touch of bitterness unmistakable in Christina’s voice.

          “Buena Vista has a very caring staff.”

          “I hope you’re right Sydney.”

          “I know I am.”

          “I’m sorry that I’m being a pest, but” –

          “It’s okay Tina.”

          “Will they put him on drugs?  I don’t want Timothy on drugs.”

          “The doctors will do whatever is best for him.  Look Tina, I don’t mean to sound cruel, but I think it’s time you signed the paper.  Timothy needs the program at Buena Vista and you need to get on with the rest of your life.”

          Christina signed the paper.  She drove home alone.

          “God I hate this.”

          The rest of her life.  For the first time, she would be completely on her own.  No parents.  No husband.  No children.  She went to the bathroom and retrieved a bottle from the medicine cabinet.  Without her family to need her, who would she be?  Christina washed her face, brushed her hair and stared at the bottle of painkillers.