Best Christmas Eve tumble down a flight of stairs | Bleader

Best Christmas Eve tumble down a flight of stairs


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I don't know why my mother turned to wave at the former church organist, still under a cloud after his arrest for possession of child pornography. My mom says she does: "I stopped to say hello, and then the Lord pushed me." Still in her choir robe, she tumbled down the wrought-iron steps from the church balcony. It was late on Christmas Eve 2006, and my sister sounded weary when she called to tell me mom was in the ER with a broken hip.

"Broken pelvis," my mom would correct, then and now.

She'd had MS for decades, but she really started to falter after my dad died. A singsong "I don't know" became her answer to everything from "What would you like for lunch?" to "What have you done with your keys?" Earlier that year she'd been hospitalized after a meltdown. Reagan was president, she told us. See the birdie I colored?

When she was released we moved her into a "villa" on the grounds of a retirement community, where she'd have access to an assisted living facility if needed. She hated it—"I don't like old people!" She missed her neighbors, her piano, her organ. She took up with a young man she'd met in water therapy, a creepy guy my little brother's age.

The people at church had been forbearing throughout it all. And maybe it was providential that she should fall there, with a couple of ushers handy. But if grace came, it was in the form of Dr. Kwan. A few turns at organizing mom's daily meds had convinced my sister and me that she was on way too many drugs—more than 20 pills a day. We'd tried repeatedly to get her help, but Dr. Kwan was the first to say, "What are you on this for? Or this? Or this?"

Depakote, which she'd been prescribed for migraines, turned out to be the biggest culprit. By March, still recovering in a nursing home, mom was strolling the halls, winning at bingo, and a little sweet on a courtly gentleman in his 80s. By September she'd moved back into her house. Now she travels and runs around all the time, busy with organ club, bell choir, her MS group. She has two spoiled cats and an age-appropriate beau.

"I was in la-la land back then," she says of the bad old days. "That fall was the best thing that ever happened to me."