Imagine yourself in a multiplex movie theater. Curiously, no walls separate the half-dozen theaters that form the multiplex. Miraculously, you are watching six different screens all at once, thoroughly understanding and enjoying every scene, word, character.
Welcome to ADHD.
An adult son in search of Mom, I walk through family-filled rooms, my sibs sharing stories and laughter in ever-increasing speed and volume.
Screen Three, hearing snippets of one tale spun by next-oldest brother Jeff, laughs as well. We thought you were the only story-teller, Black!
Apparently this particular trait is genetic, concludes Five. There isn’t one among you incapable of weaving a wonderful world through words.
I do not respond. I do not even stay in the room to catch Jeff’s punchline.
You OK, boss? asks One. You appear most distracted.
“Pop asked me to make sure Mom doesn’t need help, but she’s not in any of the rooms I’ve checked.”
The kitchen, suggests Two. Where else would your mother be Thanksgiving Day? She labors in love at the hot stove for two full days so her brood may chat away the afternoon.
“Good point. And great visual. She really does pour herself into these gatherings.”
Though I could find my way to the kitchen blind-folded – this is my childhood home, after all, one into which we moved back in 1961 – I choose this time simply to follow my nose. Mom’s culinary magic makes itself known throughout the entire three floors, tantalizing scent beckoning my presence.
This is where you should really rejoice, comments Four. Having these six screens inside your head heightens all your senses.
Four is right, affirms Five. Since we speak of wonderful aromas wafting from the stove, are you aware ADHD may increase sense of smell way beyond what Real Worlders experience?
My salivary glands nod in agreement. As they do, One reminds me that when I was taking my daily doses of mind-focusing Dexedrine –
That’s Dexedrine, NOT Dexatrim, chafes Three. Clueless people were always amazed doctors could “treat” ADHD with a diet pill!
– my senses, especially those of taste and smell, diminished. I sigh, “Almost seemed like going blind after once knowing sight.”
The sad memory disappears as I step foot in the kitchen and gasp at what my fully-sighted eyes behold.
Good night! exclaims Six. Sherry is already eating! Look at her chow down on that turkey – the rest of the family hasn’t even been called!
And now Rocky is diving in! shouts Four. He’s all over that ham with his – uggghhh – tongue!
Suddenly two small but very strong hands are on my shaking shoulders. From behind a voice chastises, “Too tempted to wait?”
“Mom!” Half-a-dozen screens roar, Don’t let her see this!
But my disbelieving eyes betray me and Mom, having studied my face, steps past me to absorb what no mother should see, Thanksgiving or not. Screen One describes the scene.
Mom falls back against me, faint.
She does not! defends Six. You only thought she would! But nothing fazes your mother after raising six bodacious Blackwells!
Mom spins ’round, applies hands to son’s face with death-defying grip and growls, “Not a word, boy. Not a word.” She LIFTS surprised Sherry – no small setter – off the table, places the dog at my unmoving feet and commands, “Grab hold.”
Much-bigger Rocky, still feverishly licking and chewing the ham, doesn’t budge. With one foot indelicately pushed into the mashed spuds –
Pawtatoes? puns Three.
– he is a relentless retriever.
Ahh, but so is your mom, observes One. Relentless, I mean. With a single light smack on Rocky’s nose, the Castle Queen reminds Michael’s pup that rules are rules, drools are drools and ne’er the two shall mix. Not in Ma Blackwell’s kitchen.
I hustle both dogs to the basement – their tongues wildly lick one another’s muzzles – and rush back upstairs, storytellers too involved and audiences too enraptured for anyone to question the speed at which I move.
Your mom, says Three in amusement, scrubs the meats with soap and sponge.
I gag at “Sherry slobber” and “Joy juice” spicing our feast. Mom, who cleverly carves up both selections to hide the T-Rex bites, hears me. She grimaces and breathes into my unwilling ear, “You are going to eat just as much as you always have – ”
She sounds like Clint Eastwood! shivers Three.
“ – and you are never to utter a word of this. Mike would just die to know that his ‘immaculately-groomed, well-behaved’ dogs ate our dinner.”
The meal is served – my stomach does back flips – but I close my eyes and fearfully munch away.
Your mom, chides Four, does not need to keep handing you the serving plate.
The Blackwell brood finishes the splendid repast, declares it yet another year of success, cleans the entire kitchen and tumbles off to comfy couches for tryptophan-inspired dreams.
You, scarred for life, notes One, picture the day you can share this story. In writing. So you can keep your word to Mom about never saying a thing to Mike.
The burden is discharged. Happy Thanksgiving to all.
One month earlier, I had shared the good and unexpected news of a child’s projected arrival, perhaps in June or July of the next year. Despite the many backslaps given me by siblings, my dad’s declaration of grace and thanks includes no mention of the pregnancy. Matters worsen when Mom and Dad appear to have a small disagreement at the very start of the extraordinary meal.
Mom “wins” the brief (and staged) contest, declaring, “We first will serve the new father-to-be.”
Pop stands and hefts an elegant serving tray with a beautiful lid. He walks toward my end of the expansive table – there are many Blackwells – and from behind me, sets down the massive dish before me. “Congratulations!” he says, loudly, proudly, then hugs me mightily.
Mom encourages me to lift the lid. I find not the expected turkey but a special Teddy Bear.
That bear sleeps many nights with a late-arriving lass. When tiny Leah finally outgrows the first little pair of OshKosh overalls given, we dress her bear in those cute cuffed clothes.
“Teddy” is a powerful reminder of love – and thanksgiving – across the generations.
* * * * *
In the spirit of Thanksgiving …