They found my mother. She’d been camping in the jungle with a crazy man. On the phone Mom described it this way: “My belly’s distended, and the whites of my eyes bulge. Honey, I look like shit, but I’m alive.” I imagined her jumping up and down with anxiety like her voice, hopping and faltering.
“You were acting like a teenager!” I shouted. “Don’t you know better than that, Mom? You hardly knew him!” Was it my fault she’d run off with a stranger? Because I was living in New York City, thousands of miles away?
I suppose I should have seen it coming. She’d adopted a new ringtone—a froggy-sounding mating chirp—soon after Dad died.
“You flew with some stranger to the jungles of Costa Rica? You didn’t tell anyone?”
“You don’t know what I felt like.”
Now she was sobbing. Her “date”—a psychiatrist who had lost his marbles, quit medicine to become a snake-whisperer. She thought maybe a viper killed him. She was alone in the jungle with only one shoe.
“I did my best, sweetie.” On their second date, he’d given her a jungle vacation package.
“I wanted to show him I had real courage.” Dad had called her timid and fearful. “He loves adventure. I don’t hold it against him. I just hope he’s still alive.”
Clearly my mother had a mating call, and men were answering it. Who knew what could happen next? No more leaving her unsupervised. She might swallow the next one whole.