I am Sophie's conservator. Every two years, the government checks in on our relationship, which is as it should be, I guess, although the whole process is akin, figuratively, to getting stabbed in the heart. It's the same feeling as listening to the robo calls from Sophie's LAUSD high school that describe the various senior year festivities and activities. Sophie has been a "senior" for over three years, yet she won't be going to college day or career day or military sign-up day or cap and gown ordering day or prom day or -- you understand the drill. If my imagination were a work of art, I'd say that as its conservator, I let things roll, I elaborate, I preserve --
It is what it is, as they say.
Yesterday, a worker from the city came to our house to interview Sophie to make sure that she still needed a conservator. She was terrified of our dog Valentine, the goofiest poodle on the planet but otherwise a mild enough sort who immediately greeted Sophie. The dog greeted her and the worker greeted Sophie, that is. After she finished asking me a bunch of questions about Sophie's needs and medications and doctors and health history and educational status, she told me that she needed to ask Sophie some questions. I raised my eyebrows. I had kept Sophie home from school for the meeting, and she was sitting in her wheelchair humming. If you're a new reader to the blog, Sophie doesn't hum songs. She makes a steady monotonous sound through closed lips that is at once an expression of agitation (meaning she wants to get up and out of the chair and go outside), of discomfort (of what I have no idea) or perhaps just of a self-stimulating nature that feels good. Depending on my mood or where I am in the caregiver cycle, the sound can make me feel alert to alleviating her discomfort, amused (I have my tolerant side), agitated (okay, CRAZY) or indifferent. Yesterday, I felt amused by Sophie's insistent hum yet my heart throbbed from the ax that the worker had metaphorically thrust into it.
I'm a conservator, a person who guards and protects my adult daughter. I'm also responsible for the repair and preservation of a work of art -- my imagination, I think. A thing of cultural interest. My writer mind. I listened with amusement to the questions so earnestly asked by this cheerful, bland woman.
Sophie, do you know who you are?
Sophie, do you need an attorney?
Sophie, would you like to vote?
Silence. (I might have interjected here over the hum with my own answer which would be Yes! And hopefully get the asshole and his band of billionaires out of the government!)
We tolerate these things, we conservators.
The worker turned to me, still earnest yet apologetic. We have to ask these questions because there are those who would take advantage of people's disabilities. I told her how much I appreciated that care and attention. I meant it. She stood up, and I stood up and she handed me the paperwork and I put one hand on Sophie's head as the worker said good-bye. Then she said, Plus, you never know! Sophie might wake up one morning and start talking and recover!
Reader, it was then that I removed the ax from my own heart and brought it over the worker's head, cleaving it in two.
Valentine sniffed around a bit and smiled and Sophie hummed.