This was an old monologue I wrote at university for one of my assignments. I've edited it and updated it a bit.
I’ve Cooked Breakfast
[Walks in from the ‘kitchen’ with a tray of breakfast things. Puts the tray down on table.]
Mum! Breakfast’s ready.
[Goes to call through the other curtains, ‘upstairs’]
Are you coming or what? I’ve made you eggs…
[coming back. She sorts out breakfast things]
Soft-boiled eggs. Just how you like them.
I’ll change the landing lightbulb Mum, I said, don’t worry about it, I’ll do it after college. I said that yesterday morning. And I completely forgot. I went to see the girls. Mum offered to drive me there and well, I forgot, again.
She’ll want to just do it herself anyway. The lightbulb. And she’ll come down for her breakfast just whenever she wants. It’s the weekend and the first thing she does when she gets out of bed. She wants to change the landing lightbulb. And it’s not even 10 O’clock. And I’ve cooked eggs. Just how she likes them. That’s stubborn for you.
[Sits down and has breakfast. Eating.]
I’m not really that good in the kitchen but I’ve started to help out a bit more, around the house, just to take her mind off things a bit. Not that it’s really helping. As you can tell. [Points to the upstairs landing]
It’s because its worse in the mornings. She wakes up with the tremor in her hand. Her left one. It started in her pinky and she thought nothing of it. Who would? Just a muscle spasm or something.
So now I cook breakfast and I’m getting better at eggs at least. I know I should have already known, but Mum has always been the one who loves cooking. Her passion. She loved cooking for people.
I came down to breakfast one morning, must have been about five or six weeks ago now, and she was sat here crying. And that’s not like her. There was this smashed bottle of milk on the floor. Literally everywhere. I had to try so hard to resist… you know not to say… don’t cry over spilt milk. I know she’d find the funny side to it. Or she used to. I just stood there for a few moments, taking it all in, looking at her. And feeling this, weird, sort of, tenderness between us, sort of like I knew she wanted to laugh but she was crying. And I wanted to laugh but thought maybe I should be crying too, for her I think, but maybe for me, I don’t know.
The tremor could be in her shoulder or up to her neck by lunchtime. Always the left side.
I wouldn’t say I’ve ever seen her totally relaxed. It’s a Saturday for God’s sake and she is standing on a crappy step ladder, replacing a dodgy lightbulb on the landing at [looks at watch] 9:46. That woman does not know how to relax. She’ll be doing it to prove a point. Like thats really going to help.
I should fix that stupid lightbulb, but she so desperately wants to do it, it’s like I’m damned if I do it, I’m damned if I don’t. She’ll only find some other job she’s going to do, that I should really be doing. There’s always something I should be doing to make her feel better, to take her mind off it, to ease the pain. But doing it only makes her feel worse. And sometimes all I want to do is go back to bed.
It’s never normally too long before we find something to laugh about though. Like lately, its our shared annoyance of my Aunties – Mum’s younger sisters. They’re always saying she’d be wise to pack in the company all together, about time she spent more time with the family. And yet I haven’t seen them since last Christmas. But of course, now they’ve found out about the tremor, how serious it might be and they’re blocking up the phone lines every Saturday evening.
Thank God Mum and Dad stopped at me, I couldn’t deal with three sisters telling me what to do. Mum tries to be all polite but I know she’s sick of it. Already. And its only early days. They’re all suddenly advisors, therapists, saints. Telling her to go private. Telling her to eat this and that. Quit her job. Relax. Well we could all tell her that. But she’ll do what she wants to do. I guess we all do in this house.
We run a tight ship and we manage fine, that’s the way its always been. Dad’s at work, Mum’s at work. I’ve got things to do, people to see. I’ve got the girls, anyway. I don’t see them as much, Mum tells me to just go see them, but I can’t. So I guess I’ve taken a bit of a back bench. Which sucks when you’re seventeen. Everything sucks when you’re seventeen.
[Calls upstairs again]
Mum! […a muffled reply calls from Mum]
Yeah! and you said that last time!
I don’t mind helping round the house a bit more, but, I think this is it from here on in. Desperately dragging Mum down for her breakfast. I’m now seventeen going on forty. She will come down when she wants to. Just like I used to. I’m the adult, she’s the moody teenager.
I don’t what how long it’ll take… what else I’ll start doing… which is OK, I’m not lazy. It’s just she’s as stubborn about doing things as I was about not doing them.
It’s a rare condition of it: young onset Parkinsons. She’s only 48, and barely a grey hair on her head. Fit, healthy, happy. Just stressed, I guess. And stubborn. Really stubborn. But often the way isn’t it? Healthy’s got nothing to do with it. It could be genetic, I’m not really sure.
The neighbours brought round flowers when they found out. Mum had been over for a coffee on Monday, it must have come up in conversation, and the next day – here, tulips. They’re a lovely couple and all that.
Is this the start of it, Mum said when she got home from work and saw them. Shall I buy more vases? Clear all the window sills. We laughed about it at the time. But every morning I’ve cooked her breakfast this week, I look at those tulips and as lovely as they are – the flowers and the neighbours – I can’t help but think the same thing.
Is this the start of it? Life never the same again. Losing my mum. Watching her become someone else. This thing, this disease, is like the brother or sister I never had – or wanted – it’s getting all Mum’s attention and leaving me with the bits leftover. I know that’s ridiculous – I’m being a jealous little girl.
We’re both avoiding becoming who we’re becoming. Stay like we are. It’s not even as simple as just wanting your Mum to get better. It’s not like that. It’s like…already moved in, already part of her now. So you learn to accommodate it, tolerate it. Like that little brother or sister you never want but they must be embraced into the family. They are family. It’s not your choice and its not all about you. You must learn to get used to it. We’re good at that in our house anyway. We manage, we skirt the subject, we laugh, and we get on with it. We carry on. We change the lightbulbs and we no longer get glass milk bottles.
[Cleaning breakfast things up]
And I learn to cook eggs again and again.
Kelly Punton ©