Call social worker. I should get it tattooed on my hand. Or my daughter’s forehead; I spend a lot of time looking there. Call social worker. I should get it tattooed somewhere because I always need to do it, and I almost never do.
My mom needs help, and I can’t always give it. “My payee is stealing my money,” Mom says. “I need underwear and pants and a coat and an umbrella. My knees are so tired from walking up the hill to see you.”
I wish I could ease my mom’s situation a bit more; I wish I could get her a bus pass and be sure she wouldn’t toss it in the garbage. Would the social worker be able to help me with that? If I buy Mom the things she needs will she just throw them away or give them away like she did with the coat I bought a month ago? Quinn needs a raincoat, too, and Spencer is growing so fast he already needs another wardrobe.
This is what I want to tell my mother: “You’ve had two social workers in as many years, and now another one because of budget cuts. I don’t even remember the new one’s name. That’s probably why you aren’t getting any money either. Budget cuts. You know those people camped out downtown? They’re trying to do something about it.”
This is what she will probably tell me: “They stole my money, those whores at Hammond House. I have equity at 3931 42nd Ave. I’ll just move into my new house, and you can visit me there. I won’t have to leave, and I won’t need a rain coat.”
I wish she could understand. It’s the budget cuts, Mom. But would it make it any better? It would still be impossible. It’s impossible either way.
Somehow, she’s still got a beautiful smile, and she can still laugh. She can still laugh even when she’s soaking wet and sore and tired of walking around downtown. She’s a survivor; somehow she has endured all of this for fifteen years. Now. Maybe, maybe, maybe, if I call the social worker she’ll be able help. All I have to do is pick up the phone.