I walked through the drug store near my mother's house looking for bird food. She is in the mental hospital again, and I'm taking care of her birds and cat while she's away. A sort-of-familiar store employee walks past me then stops.
"Aren't you ****'s son?", she asks.
"Yeah", I say.
"Your mother left a computer monitor here last week."
"A computer monitor? Did she buy it here?" I ask, somewhat hopefully, knowing drug stores don't normally sell computer monitors.
"No." she looks back at me, vaguely smiling.
Right, of course.
On the floor behind a nearby counter is a dirty computer monitor, the bulky old kind that probably weighs forty pounds. My mother probably picked it up off the side of street to give it to someone, then forgot about it while spending two hours shopping for potato chips and talking to everyone in the store.
My mother is bipolar, what they used to call manic-depressive. When I was a child she spent several years in a state hospital. She was stable for years, but recently it's almost like she's not on medication at all. A few months ago she was in the hospital for a few weeks. The doctors monitored her and adjusted her medication. But last week she was back again.
Dealing with this, or trying not to, has always been a major part of my life. But only in the last couple of years have I realized it is also a major part of my practice. A big part of my practice in general is learning to deal with things as they are, not wishing they were something else. I'm not the best at it, but it's the path I try to walk.
I stared down at the computer monitor in the store.
"Thanks", I say, "I'll take it."