We came to a large bench, my mother and I, on a bluff that overlooked a cove of the Pacific. It was a post-card-worthy setting, one of the hundreds of such places that make the central California coastline so notoriously scenic.
I had come to Cambria packing some pot and the earnest, if somewhat naïve, desire to see if a little weed would somehow help her situation. My main concern was to lighten her gloomy mood, which had been unrelenting ever since the doctor said yes, she did indeed have Alzheimer’s. My thought was, “Well, what the hell, pot seems to do good work for some depressed cancer patients. Maybe it will help an old lady with The Big A.”
Coincidentally, Mom had happened upon an article about a study that indicated that the active ingredient in reefer just might help block the formation of the bad clumps in Alzheimer brains. After that, I didn’t have to twist her arm to take part in my little experiment.
So here we were, at this place of panorama on a superb California afternoon. I had the pipe in my pocket but was hesitant to pull it out. Not because she was gonna freak out or anything but because she was already enjoying a smoke. Since I had seen her last, in August, she had begun smoking again. She felt like having some cigarettes, and why the heck not? So before I could introduce her to “Mary Jane,” she was firing up a Salem—and smokin’ the bejesus out of that thing. I had to admit, she was a natural with a cig, draggin’ on it with Bette Davis-like expertise. She’d obviously been missing her beloved menthols ever since she quit back in ’78, and now, in an odd turn of events, had given herself the green light to have tobacco reenter her life. So we sat there on the bench, talking about life and death and how gettin’ old really isn’t all that swell and watching the waves and the pelicans and talking about some of her regrets and some of mine and how we both, in the end, really couldn’t complain because life has been very good to both of us, and how the heck did we get so goddamn lucky anyway? And as we sat there, it became clear that having a cigarette in the sun and having a good chat with her oldest son was lightening her mood just as well as a fistful of Zoloft. Or so it seemed.
We did get around to the pot, finally. I pulled out the pipe, told her to suck in a hit and hold it. You know, Basic Weed 101. Naturally, she took in way too much, resulting in a predictable coughing hackfest that completely pissed her off, which pretty much ended the pot experiment.
But we really had a nice time at the restaurant that night. Red wine, it would appear, has a role to play in her “therapy.” Now if we can just get her on Wellbutrin.