Just weeks before our big wedding day, Mother’s Day 2011 to be exact, Shyam and I took Mum to our favorite little Ojai diner, Bonnie Lu’s, for breakfast.
“I just can’t eat any more. It’s so good, but I’m stuffed,” Mum said, her face a bit pained.
“You’ve only taken a few bites. Do you have a stomach ache?”
“It’s more like acid reflux, I think. It burns, kind of like heartburn, but I also feel really full after only a few bites. It’s been like this for a while but the doctor said I’m healthy as a horse! I usually have antacids with me but I ran out yesterday.”
I found the horsey doctor report hard to believe because Mum had clearly never taken good care of her body, to put it lightly. But who was I to question? I also couldn’t imagine a doctor using the phrase “healthy as a horse” for any patient, even if he was referring to Mr. Jack LaLanne himself. It sounded more like a Nana phrase than anything else and in the back of my mind I wondered if she was making that bit up because she didn’t want to worry us with a negative health report and she surely didn’t want us meddling with her seven plus beer per night habit. I knew after years of her heavy drinking, her liver could in no way be picture perfect and I worried it would one day fail her. I didn’t see how a damaged liver would cause her to feel full after eating three bites of scrambled eggs.
After breakfast, Mum and I headed to our local health food store and I purchased digestive enzymes and chewable probiotics for her, since they’ve been working wonders for me after my doctor prescribed them for my own digestion issues. Surely this would, if anything, briefly relieve her of some pain and discomfort.
If she’d only stop drinking, I thought.
A week later I called her to follow up.
“I’m still not able to take more than three or so bites.”
“Well, have you gone back to the doctor? Something is definitely wrong.”
“She said I’m healthy as a horse.”
There’s that phrase again.
Excerpt from chapter twenty-nine | feelin’ alright | Everything’s Hunky Dory: A Memoir