Mom went to work the next day after her big win as if nothing happened, but it was much harder than she thought it would be. She managed to function just because she knew all the menu items and work routines by heart, like one knew the ABCs. She could probably have performed her job in her sleep. Who couldn’t, after having worked the same job for over ten years? However, she couldn’t fool Maggie’s eyes.
“You’re still sick,” said Maggie, grabbing one of the coffee pots in front of Mom.
“Oh… I’m okay. I appreciate you covering my shift yesterday, though,” said Mom.
“Honey. You’re not okay. You were staring at these pots.” Maggie put her other hand on her hip, studying Mom’s face.
Mom’s eyes shifted uncomfortably.
“You know,” Maggie continued. “I’m free and I’ll gladly cover for you any time. You know, my kids moved out and I’ve got no one to scold anymore at home. It’s boring to be sitting around. So, you just take it easy. Take a whole week off,” then she winked at her. “Unless you don’t want to share the money with me.”
Mom reacted to the word, money. She looked up at her, suddenly paranoid. “What?”
“I could use more cash, is all I’m sayin’. More work, more money. See? Just look at those eyes of yours. Red and all. You’re sick. I can tell.” Maggie gave a friendly tap on Mom’s shoulder, and left with the coffee pot.
When Nancy’s Diner’s owner came by and told her to go home too, Mom didn’t have any choice but to obey. Maggie had told the owner that Mom was under the weather. Even though the choice wasn’t hers, Mom still felt strange taking sick days off after making us promise not to change our daily routines. But again, she didn’t have any choice.
She thought about visiting a therapist. But how could that have been possible? How would therapy sessions work without confessing the source of her worry when all you were supposed to do at those sessions was tell them everything about your life in extreme detail? Zoe’s mom had been to one, and by the fifth session, her therapist knew her better than her husband did.
So Mom went to church instead. She sat on the bench for hours. Sitting there calmed her down.
Father Paul approached and sat down with her. Unlike therapists or psychiatrists, he never asked her questions. He just listened. That was exactly what she needed. She could cherry-pick what she wanted to say without mentioning the lottery winning. She talked for hours about her confused, uneasy state of mind, and Father Paul listened patiently, expecting nothing in return. He probably wondered why she felt that way, but most likely, thought she was perimenopausal or something.
Her solo visit to the church continued for the next few days while we thought she was at Nancy’s Diner. It was strange. Talking about her feelings to Father Paul turned out to be the best medication for her. She could safely release all her fears and worries, which she really couldn’t do with us. I supposed teenaged children weren’t the best people to vent all your emotions on, but what about Dad?
Perhaps it was because he wasn’t around very much, and she didn’t want him to worry.