(Transcribed) ” It’s harder than ever to communicate with her. She seems more withdrawn, unable to nod or shake her head now. “Yes” is raised eyebrows, “no” is no reaction. Most questions go unanswered or at least unrecognizable. I’m more and more at odds with myself, unable to communicate well; without dialogue, coversation is prattle. At Lee’s urging I sit at her bedside and read her old poems, sonnets, and a picture book version of The Nutcracker. My brother’s new girlfriend, tells me I have a soothing voice and should read books on tape. Mom does seem to sleep for a bit.

“At yesterday’s ALS support group the inspirational speaker is so uninspiring that I struggle to keep my eyes open. I’m wiped out. Compared to my last visit to the group a year and 1/2 ago, Mom is no longer one of the healthiest. In fact, she is the worst of all, the least mobile , the least responsive. Lee tells me that is the way the others have looked before they died. Later, at the caregiver’s separate support group, I keep myself from crying by counting the number of times a woman across the table says “Y’know” in a minute. About fifteen. Everyone and their thick MN accents. So many white people (including me).

“I’m staying with my friend Crowman, the postal inspector (thanks for the bed and the car, Crowman). My first night here he takes me to see the Ballet of the Dolls’ Nutcracker parody; Barbie dolls, drag queens, house music and all. To be honest, it seems inert and not nearly as cute as they probably intended. Later, he and I stop at the downtown post office and from a vault in his office we pull 5000 rounds of 9mm Luger ammunition so his division can complete their regular firearms qualifications in the morning. We stack it in the trunk of his Chrysler.

(Pause: UPS has just now delivered a special box: Mom and Lee have been selected to carry the torch for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Lee wrote a nominating essay about Mom, and they ended up both being selected as inspirational partners. They’ll help carry the torch two-tenths of a mile each through Omaha, Nebraska. Amazing. The box contains the white and blue torchbearer official outfits.)”

Later: I’m back at Crowman’s on his mac upstairs in the spare bedroom, home from seeing the horrible new Tom Cruise movie, alone. I mean I saw it alone, trying to save the good movies for when the family wants to see them this weekend. After Mom’s simple, quiet 55th birthday party, I kissed her good night, and then my brother does the same. As I’m lacing up my boots he asks where I am off to and I lie a little, saying I’m going back to Crowman’s. There are tears in his eyes and I find that I cannot talk to him about IT, that all I can do is drive in the dark to a movie theater, and sit in the dark and watch someone else’s life flash across my eyes for awhile.

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