By David L. Hudacek
It started when I was five, and I mispronounced the word “détente.” My mom took me to a speech therapist in Paterson. The therapist told her there was nothing wrong with me. This was after six months of treatment, enunciating phrases printed on laminated placards, things like “Fast frogs fish for french fries.” The therapist leaned in close to me during our sessions, and his breath smelled like the oversized minty thing in a public urinal, so it was hard to concentrate. Plus, he had this black hairy mole that I swear moved to a different location on his forehead from week to week. I wore thick horn-rimmed glasses back then, which must have magnified my eyes, darting about like two goldfish in their bowls, trying to make sense of this mystery.
My mom, undaunted—convinced there was still something wrong with me, took me to an allergist. He told her I didn’t have allergies, but she persuaded him to give me the weekly series of painful shots for a year, anyway. The doctor’s hands were cold, like a cadaver’s, and he was ghostly, his skin tracing paper pale, so his veins could be seen like a highway map of the Tri-state area. I stopped going when I developed an allergy to the stuff in the shots and spent a week as swollen as a float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
When I was twelve, she took me to a child psychologist. The therapist was a large woman who looked like that Picasso painting of Gertrude Stein and moved and spoke about as much as a painting while I blabbed about my life. Eventually, I kind of aged out of child psychology, when I was nineteen, and she felt guilty about billing me for something I already knew. She told me I was OK, that the problem wasn’t with me.
I now take my elderly mom to the geriatrician for dementia. I trust him because he is old and seasoned, like he had trained with Hippocrates. His eyes are soulful, how I imagine Homer’s eyes, although he’s not blind. Dark and reflective, like the wine-dark sea. With his soulful eyes the doctor stares at me after asking when I knew something was wrong with my mom, and my mom, even though she’s demented, is listening.
I say, “It just started.”
🙂 Thanku. Graceful and satisfying.
Wonderful story so captivating and well written the story came alive to me. I was with you on your journey