When toddlers attack

Friday, February 10, 2012

Merhaba from Istanbul

At least, that's how the post was going to start.

Yes, I'm still alive.  2012 is the Year of the Dragon according to the Chinese calendar.  I was born in the Year of the Dragon (we don't need to dwell on which one).  That means 2012 is supposed to be super lucky for me and mine... well, okay for me.  So far, it hasn't worked out that way, especially for my mom.

Here's what I was set to post the second week of January:

Istanbul is cold in January.  Not just cold; a damp, achy chill that seems to penetrate how ever many layers of clothing you've wrapped yourself in.  It's also rainy.

So, perhaps continuing the thread of parental torture I began in my last post, this is where we've brought my mother to celebrate her 80th birthday (which is actually this coming Friday and which we'll celebrate with my aunt in a hopefully warm Palm Springs when we pick Argos up from the doggy camp where he spent the past week).  Turkish airlines was offering a too-good-to-miss January fare from L.A. to Istanbul, so for the same price of one ticket to Johannesburg, all three of us are in the former capital of the Byzantine/Ottoman Empire.

Travelling with your elderly parent I imagine is a bit like travelling with children -- take it slow, limit yourself to a couple of sights each day, and pack plenty of patience.  We're staying in a little bed and breakfast right below the Blue Mosque in the old section of the city, Sultanahmet.  Over the past month, we've let her know she's going somewhere, somewhere cold, and to pack accordingly.  For some reason, she decided she was going to Montreal, which was fine with us, because if she packed warmly enough for Montreal, Istanbul wouldn't pose any problem.
I didn't finish. 

The one person on earth who can pin my mom's arm behind her back and make her beg for mercy in the drama department is my aunt.  When I told her of our Istanbul plans -- clinched by a 500 dollar round trip fare from LAX -- I tried to get her to join us, even offering to pay her fare.  "I'll think about it," she told me.  The next day, she sent me a cut-and-pasted travel advisory from that inspiration to thousands of timid American tourists, the U.S. State Department.  It warned of all the ills that could befall us in Turkey -- mostly in Turkish Kurdistan, which is like saying that you should avoid San Diego because someone might be pissed off in Denver.  Not only that, she said, but "you'll KILL your mother.  Are you INSANE?"

It's always fun until someone catches a communicable disease...
Istanbul was lovely.  Cold and damp, but lovely -- even though cabbies there try harder than their counterparts in many cities (Delhi excepted) to inflate the fare and refuse to take even an 80-year-old woman anywhere if it's not clear across the city -- and even though I left my wallet in the back of a cab and had to frantically call the U.S. to cancel my credit cards.  We brought my mom back fully intact and went to Palm Springs to confound my aunt's predictions.  That evening, Friday, as we were heading home with a very happy, stinky Argos, she developed a slight cough.  On Tuesday, she was admitted to the hospital with pneumonia -- and my aunt wasn't speaking to me. 

She spent the week there.  That Friday, she had a CT scan which showed a mass on her lung which might have been due to the pneumonia -- or might be cancerous, a product of her supposedly early stage breast cancer last summer.  They won't know until a second scan later this month.  The news came just as we were about to sign the paperwork for the loan to add on to the house in preparation for the twins.

Now, all is on hold.  If my mom is sick, we can't subject her to life in a construction zone.  If she's not, we'll still be living in a construction zone when the twins arrive.  Either way, it appears the twins' first home stateside will be in an apartment somewhere.  But for now, my mother is in decent spirits, pretty much recovered, and back home... and all is strangely calm.    Aside from a nagging sense of filial guilt and that voice in my head that keeps squeaking -- in spite of a vigorous self-defense and my aunt's apology -- that maybe she was right.


  1. Thinking good thoughts for you on all fronts. Turkey sounds amazing. And don't beat yourself up...you meant well. See you soon...

  2. If we lived our lives worried about what may or may happen we wouldn't experience much. Turkey is amazing as you say. Wishing you all the best.

  3. Sorry to hear about your mom. I'll keep my fingers crossed she gets healthy soon. Avey and Vinay are right -- anyone could get sick at any time. And what an amazing adventure you gave her. I hope to make it to Istanbul one day.