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  • sick. She had no stomach. Doctors removed it in 1982 because she had ulcers. This led to malnutrition and yearly operations to save her life. Before she died she had no skin on her legs. They were raw sore limbs.

    Every morning and every night my dad would rub salve on them and then bandage them.

    She never complained. She couldn't sleep for more than a few minutes or hours at a time. She sat on her sofa chair and smoked Marlboro lights. She kept a blanket across her lap. I could hear her teeth chatter from my bedroom. It wasn't the cold. It was pain. If she nodded off she would drop her cigarette and it would burn the blanket. The burn crisped the edges. I would insert my fingers in the holes to feel their sharpness.

    She got mean eventually. Which was understandable. Her legs had no skin. Pain is savage. She would yell at me and call me selfish. I was. Some days I ignored her. Would tell her I loved her in the morning. That everything would be okay. She'd tell me she would get better. And I believed her every time. I'd go on with my day, spend time at my friends' houses. I thought it was more important than spending time at home. I prayed back then. I thought God had my back. She'd survived 14 lifesaving operations. He'd help her again. I could spend time with her when she was healthy.

    One time she dropped a cigarette on my diabetic kit. It was a goofy teal colored cooler. It left two burn marks on the top flap. A big one and a small one. They looked like her raw sores.

    I remember her legs before she died. My dad had removed her bandages. He was kneeling down. It reminded me of Jesus washing his disciples feet. Her legs were ripe red and bloated like a dead body's. It was like she was dead but a fire still burned inside her. That was her soul. It's like the world said, Die. And her soul said, No, not yet.

    My mom was the vice president of a clothing company. They were popular in the 80s. She invented patchwork jeans. Hipsters tell me these jeans are cool. Cool comes with a sacrifice. She smoked and worked very hard. She didn't get a second opinion about her ulcers. They were healing actually. This was revealed during a malpractice lawsuit that she won. She was awarded $20 million. She died before she collected most of the settlement. I testified at the trial. The defense didn't cross examine me. One of the doctors parked in a handicap spot. He could walk fine.

    Doctors didn't understand how she lived so long without her stomach. Her sisters who are my aunts said it was because she loved me and didn't want to leave me unprepared.

    My dad lives out in the farm country north of Los Angeles now. He takes care of three cats and two dogs. He lives alone. I visit him sometimes.

    I still cry at night. But not as often.
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