Noel Negele

The Many Depressions of Life


One of my grandmothers
had dementia toward the end.
A ten-year old end.
My other grandmother
who is still alive has schizophrenia.
Not good to have so much
mental illness in your family DNA.

I don’t bring that shit up on dates.

I went to meet the dementia one
because this time, 
she was way too close
to the end.

She didn’t recognize me at all,
nor my father and worse yet
she wasn’t herself anymore, either.
Everything that made her my grandmother 
was no longer there.

We could as well be two strangers
communicating through two different 
languages 
while suffering from different mental illnesses.

Five months before she was diagnosed
they’d flown her to the USA
for a very expensive eye laser therapy.
This old husk of a woman could see
as well as a cyborg.

“ What a waste” I had told the room 
after I’ve given up getting through to her 
“ such a waste of money just for her
  to turn Ike this now.”

My relatives has scolded my thinking.
My father had put both his hands
in his pants pockets and said:
As much as good timing can help
bad timing can harm.

They scolded him, too.
They didn’t understand 
that my fathers pants pockets
were once full of money and relief 
but were now empty.
My relatives hadn’t counted coins
on the palms of their hands
anxious that they’re adequate for
whatever sad purchase you might
need to make in decades.

I never saw that old lady again.
I got a picture some months later
of my father leaning over the open 
casket of his mother
and planting a kiss on her forehead.
She looked peaceful. Done with it all.
The sadness of my father’s face
baffled me. 

He always had a great disdain for his mother,
for her intellect or lack thereof 
and the fact that she never helped him once
in an essential way, or at least
that’s what he maintained. 

“Put the smartest man in the world
To live with the dumbest person of the world
and I guarantee you the dumb one will win.”
Addressed to his mother for when they lived together.

But family is family.
I guess.
There’s a biological factor
in the stubborn love
of a relative you would never 
befriend in your life.

That old lady was once
my grandmother
washed my baby butt
tought me how to take a dumb
in a Turkish toilet.
Kissed my tiny weenie when we were done washing
and always told me
that I’ll become a lover boy.
That I would see, some day.

What can you say?
Plenty of reasons to get depressed
while in the joy ride
no matter the joy— the fleeting joy.
It’s a game of turns.
In time, I’ll be leaning over my dead father 
thinking of all the time we wasted not talking
about art or women or anything at all
and I’ll wipe my tears over his forehead 
and soon enough
it’ll be my time to be weeped over
and who knows 
I might finally look peaceful then.

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