I’m about to grant another wish. Janice at Your Daily Dose wished for me to write-up a post based on a personal experience. The only catch was it has to be 100% true and can’t have any jokes. Does she not realize my defense against the world is humor? How will I deflect pain? This might be tough but I’ll do my best to keep the jokes down. She wanted it to be a true story because Janice is too nice to admit she thinks I’m a compulsive liar. Really though, a lot of silly things happen to me because I live in a cartoon world. I attempted to write-up one thing about loneliness but it was really sad and depressing and seemed like I was whining way too much. Instead I have decided to write about the one time I insist I saved a person’s life.

This story took place about 8 years ago. I had either just started driving or only had my learner’s permit. This is important to the story. Like in Breaking Bad when Ted slightly trips over the rug, it comes back to be very relevant. It was summer and I know this because I was home. Not that I was normally out during the other seasons but it was still light out and I had nowhere else to be.

Ever since I can remember my mom was always in and out of hospitals. It was always either because of kidney stones or depression. No matter how many therapist or psychiatrists she saw, no matter how many different medications she was on, no matter what strange treatment she underwent, she never got better. I was introduced to those daily pill boxes by her and would know what day of the week it was based on where the pills were. She had a gigantic flowered bag where she kept all her pills and I blame this on my hatred for flowered patterns.

(I’d rather look at an x-ray of my brain and see a tumor than have to see another flower pattern ever again)

I always associate the saddest moment in my life with visiting my mom on Easter Sunday at the hospital then getting in the car and my older sister playing Mad World, the most depressing song ever. I was probably 14 or 15 at the time and had my own things to be depressed about. Visiting your mother in what was basically a mental institution on the holiest of Christian holidays added to it.

I always knew sometimes when my mom would take her pills she would act loopy. On this particular day she seemed a little extra strange. She came upstairs from the room she spent most of her time in (the room formerly known as the messy room even though it was still quite messy) saying she wanted Rita’s Water Ice. My mom loved Rita’s Water Ice so this wasn’t strange. It was how she said. The way she looked at me let me know something was a little strange.

(Everyone enjoys Rita’s Water Ice! Even these what I am sure are upright citizens…)

I didn’t want any Rita’s because ice cream is better. Still though, my instincts started to tell me something. I can’t even describe the feeling because it was so long ago and I’ve never had the feeling before. My Spidey sense was tingling and I told my mom I wanted to go for the ride with her. Rita’s wasn’t very far away so it wouldn’t take too long.

We hopped into my mom’s van and she began driving down the street very emotionless. Our street wasn’t a busy one by any means safe enough when she swerved slightly back and forth each house we passed. It was when she almost drove into someone’s driveway instead of making a right turn that I told her to stop and pull over. She wasn’t sure why but I made her get out and switch seats with me. If she wanted Rita’s so bad I would have to drive her there.

To Rita’s we went and by this time I was just annoyed with her. I didn’t want to help her get her frozen treat, partly because I was in a bad mood and partly because I wanted to see if she could actually do it in the state she was in. She managed to get exactly what she wanted, whatever flavored Gelato that was. I tried asking her what was wrong and she never really had an answer. She felt fine.

It wasn’t long after this happened when my mom checked herself into AA or alcohol rehab. I’m not sure which programs she was in or when, I lost count. Everyone I’ve told about this made it seem like it was new big deal. It’s as if she didn’t have a problem. I would guess the mix between her pills and the alcohol is what made her behavior so strange but I’m not a doctor, just someone who goes with this most basic of instincts.

(Unlike Sharon Stone, my basic instincts do not involve flashing my privates)

A few years after this happened my mom called me up and told me how proud she was that I didn’t drink and that I wasn’t fat anymore. Not exactly my life intentions on making my parents proud but I’ll take it. This is a big reason why I don’t drink and watch what I eat. It’s not so much about making her proud as it is it’s something I should be proud of myself. It makes mistakes she made with her decision not for nothing.

I like to think this was some magical thing I did to save a life that was clearly in danger. I don’t know what to make of it. Chances are she wouldn’t have died because it was such a short easy drive but who knows? It’s at least good to know when someone I care about is in danger that I can see it immediately. My mom lived about 7 more years after this and although they weren’t her happiest years they were still years that she may not have had if I wasn’t able to know who my mother really was.

  1. Cafe says:


    Tim, I really don’t know what to say right now. I have tears in my eyes and the only reason I’m not shedding them is because there are other people in the room who I don’t want to explain it to.

    Thank you for granting my wish and sharing this. It really means a lot. I’m sure your mom would be really proud of the person you’ve become.


    • Mooselicker says:

      You’re too nice of a person and I don’t deserve it! I hope you’re not too upset. This wasn’t as heartbreaking of a story as maybe I made it seem to be.

      If my mom could be proud of me for getting suspended from school she would know doubt be proud of who I am 🙂

  2. The Waiting says:

    This was really, really great. What you said near the end about not knowing whether you really saved her life or not reminded me of the movie Sliding Doors. Have you ever seen it? It’s about how one small thing can change the entire direction of your life. Whether or not you actually saved her can never be known, but it’s good that you did what you did for no other reason than because it added richness to your relationship and taught you about your own ability to stay tuned to what your lived ones need. That’s a lesson that a lot of people never get, or they get it but never act on it.

    • Mooselicker says:

      No I’ve never seen it or even heard of it. Sounds interesting though, all about Chaos Theory?

      I try to get to know people in my life as best I can because a lot of the time people won’t admit when they need help. You totally got the message here. This is how I know you’re a good mother already.

  3. Pete Howorth says:

    I don’t believe this. What mans basic instincts don’t involve flashing privates?

  4. Awwww. You do have a heart, even if it is three sizes too small… or was that the Grinch, I always get you two confused. That was a nice stroy. Remind me to tell you about some of the many lives I have saved over the years. My stories about saving lives usually involve drug overdoses or burning, wrecked cars… but yours had flavored ice, and that is a nice change of pace for me.Thanks for sharing.

  5. It’s now starting to seem like everyone I know (“real” world, blogoworld, otherworlds…) have had less than perfect childhoods, and that the funniest people I knew are the ones who have it worse. Comedy must be a good way of coping because you seem perfectly well-adjusted to me. No, I must be lying. You are not the only compulsive liar, you know…

    The first time I read a post of yours sad enough to guarantee a poker face. Thanks, I guess?

    P.S. I’m lying. I still smirked a bit with the I-can’t-see-another-flower-pattern-and-not-puke part, sorry.

    • Mooselicker says:

      Well my childhood wasn’t so bad compared to others. I was never physically harmed. Emotionally sure, but at least adults kept their hands off my junk and stuff. I know Richard Pryor’s mom was a whore and he saw a dead body when he was like 5. I’ve hung around enough standup comedians to know if they’re ever any good they’re extremely sad.

      I’m glad you found the ability to crack a smile at my hatred of flowered patterns.

  6. Can’t think of anythng pithy to say except thanks for sharing

  7. That flower pattern is truly horrible, and you probably saved two lives that day. I’m so sorry Tim. I’m also so happy to hear that you aren’t about to repeat her mistakes because so many folks don’t learn from their parent’s mistakes.

    P.S. What is it with the mentally ill and frozen treats? A close friend from high school had a mother who was bipolar, and she was obsessed with ice cream and would talk about it all the time. It was truly bizarre.

    • Mooselicker says:

      Thanks. I make mistakes but I don’t want them to ever be in vain. It’s one of the few things important to me.

      Hmmm but who doesn’t like frozen treats or more importantly who isn’t mentally ill?

  8. Also, I’m sitting here listening to Regina Spektor’s “On the Radio”. “You laugh until you cry. You cry until you laugh. And everyone must breathe until they’re dying breath.” It’s a lot better when you’re actually listening to it though. It’s an oddly peppy tune with sad lyrics, so it’s hard to describe.

    • Mooselicker says:

      Do you always listen to relevant songs when reading blogs? That could get tough sometimes.

      • No, it’s actually quite rare, but apparently reading your blog makes for some magical moments.

        And you make some solid points. Most people are probably mentally ill and enjoy frozen treats. I suspect it works in gradations though, that some are simply further down the line than others. I don’t want to get sappy on you, but thanks for sharing your story Tim.

      • Mooselicker says:

        I already made the person who requested a real life experience nearly cry so don’t feel too bad. I’m sure we all have stories similar.

  9. Smaktakula says:

    This was a nice change. Good stuff.

  10. Holy moley, Tim. That’s big stuff. You have many many reasons to be proud of how/who you turned out to be. I grew up with a severely depressed mother too, and it’s pretty rotten. The best outcome is to be happy with how you turned out, despite your upbringing. Right on, broseph.

    And now I want a Rita’s ice.

    • Mooselicker says:

      I sure hope I have enough to be proud of! Funny how we never see the light in ourselves. I’d say the same thing to you about how well-adjusted and smart you seem despite whatever you went through.

      Rita’s jumped the shark once they got Misto’s. Rita’s also got a lot better once they got Misto’s.

  11. I love that even through this emotionally charged post, you still managed to keep that sense of humor that we all know and love by putting up that picture of the `upright citizens` enjoying Rita`s water ice. I`m really not very good with saying comforting things to people but you definitely turned out alright Tim 🙂

    • Mooselicker says:

      Thanks Karen! I have a hard time keeping anything 100% serious. As I said, it’s my defense and also why bring others down? I’m bad at comforting others too. I usually put down someone else.

      This reply made me sound a little psycho.

  12. Addie says:

    You make this mom proud, even if you use some odd terms in your book for breasticles.

  13. Roberta says:

    Even us (supposedly) well adjusted people had (and have) f’ed up parents. I realize that I am late to the show, and read your blogs in batches, but need to chime in on this one, because sometimes the craziness just never ends. Mom spent all of Super Storm Sandy in bed. Upstairs. Where there was no power. And no corded phone that would ring. The corded phone is downstairs and her hearing is not bat-like. She is no RinTinTin that hears car doors slamming a block away. She has discovered 79 volume on the TV. What she was doing up in the Cleary lair, I don’t ask, but she said it was warm up there. I called for 3 freaking days, she wasn’t watching tv, she wasn’t reading (a whole other story) she wasn’t out with her boyfriend. I am picturing her with a broken hip on the stair landing, skawarking “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up”. She has a cell phone (always dead). Tim, it never fucking ends, either they pay for your college but can’t make it to graduation cuz you little sister has her recital (they’ll come to your Harvard grad school graduation) or they get lost on their way to your wedding reception and show up 2 hours late and your dad flips you the bird. This is all true, not one word is even slightly untrue, there might even be a Betamax tape of the said bird.

    • Mooselicker says:

      At least you seemed to turn out well with little anger…ermmm or maybe just the first part. It doesn’t necessarilly feel good to know I’m “not alone.” If anything it makes me feel less special and tragic.

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