By Jenny Gardiner.
We were expecting my mother for a visit, her first in many years. She was on the overnight train from Atlanta. My daughter had a starring role in her high school play, and mom was coming to see it. I’d arrived around dawn at the farmers market that morning to stock up on food for a busy weekend of houseguests before heading to the train station, when my pocket buzzed — a text from my brother that read: It’ll be the difference between Ambien and Ambien PM whether mom gets off at your stop. Good luck.
I wasn’t hip to the world of sleep meds, but I was well aware that my mother had succumbed by then to a severe addiction to all sorts of other legal drugs. The ask-your-doctor-if-this-is-right-for-you drugs. Years back, while a chipper Nancy Reagan was blithely advising us to “just say no”, her husband’s deregulation-of-everything was ushering in an era of direct-to-consumer campaigns by Big Pharma urging us all to say “yes” to the “good” drugs. The legal ones. Eventually my mom heeded their bad advice.
My mother was a smart woman, with more academic degrees under her belt than your average tenured professor. An educator, a lawyer, a reformed alcoholic, she should have known better. She hadn’t had a drink in over twenty-five years; she wore her sobriety like a badge of honor, with good reason. She’d reinvented herself after years of drinking and a marriage gone bad, picked herself up, earned a law degree (top of her class), and remade her life. She’d succeeded beyond her wildest dreams in her private law practice, focusing too much of it, in hindsight, on what seemed like a sure-bet: real estate. She lived in a beach community during the glory days of the industry, and her hard work as a highly sought-after settlement attorney had paid off, with a beautifully-appointed home on the sound and a spectacular view of the ocean. Continue Reading…