Every month, PEERS publishes short stories written by Chinese American Action Team member Jean Lee and translated into English by PEERS Staff Veronica Liu.

The views expressed in this story are not necessarily shared or endorsed by PEERS or PEERS staff.

Trigger warning: material in this story may be re-traumatizing to some readers.

Click here for Chinese language version 點擊此處可見中文


Back in Time (Part 2) January 2019

I went to the hospital to meet up with Fay, her doctor and her case manager.

The doctor initiated the conversation::

Doctor: “We don’t have a lot of time”

Me: “Thank you!”

Doctor: “Fay, if you stop taking your medicine you will be back here at the hospital in no time at all.  You need to take them regularly. If you go anywhere, you let your parents know. You are very lucky to have parents that care so much about you.”

Fay: “I am sorry, doctor, that I lost my temper.”

Doctor: “It’s OK.”

Fay: “I was happy until they put me in the hospital.”

Me: “Don’t talk like that!”

I was so hoping that the doctor can find out more about her state of mind, but …….

We went through the discharge process and left the hospital.  I felt very anxious, worrying that Fay won’t cooperate in the car and cause an accident while we are on the highway.  In my mind I am already planning out a menu for tonight’s dinner. But then I am also thinking that Fay might want to talk, so I suggest getting take out.  She agreed.

Momma, where is my little Blackie?” (She hasn’t seen her dog since she went into the hospital.)   

“He is at John’s house.  I will go get him..”

When we got home, Fay went upstairs to her bedroom.  

“Where’s my meds? Did dad take them?”

“No, dad didn’t.  Here, let me help you look.  (No luck)

“How many days would it last if we found them?”

“Two to three days.  But I can fill the new prescription.”

It’s Sunday night, my husband and I went to Walgreens around 7 to fill Fay’s new prescription.  The Pharmacist told us that he has to get approval from Kaiser first. It usually takes about 24 hours.  But since it is Sunday night, there may not be anyone working there. I asked how much it would cost if we pay out of pocket.  He calculated and said one prescription costs over $300, the other one costs over $200. It will be enough for 3 months. He suggested that we try the Oakland Walgreens, which opens 24 hours. They may be able to help, and besides, he is also closing up pretty soon too.

20 minutes later we arrived at the Oakland Walgreens.  We got the same response from the Pharmacist. However, he suggested that we try the Kaiser Emergency Room and see if we can get a couple days’ worth of meds.  My husband said he is too tired, asked me if I can take Fay the next day to Kaiser to get her meds. I told him I can’t because I have to take her to get her physical around 12 the next day.  I said we should go now.

We arrived at the ER at Kaiser.  It’s already 9:30 pm and there were still lots of people waiting.  After talking to the Pharmacist, he said he can give us 3 days worth of meds.  It will cost $120. Since he is by himself, we have to wait at least 2 hours for him to get them ready.

“Can you please rush it?  The patient has been alone at home for a long time already.”  As soon as we sat down, Fay called.

“Where have you been, why aren’t you home yet?”  

“We had to go to several places to buy your medicine.  We are now waiting at Kaiser. It’s going to take at least 2 hours before we can come home. Go ahead and go to bed.”

“Tomorrow I need to go for my check up.  I might have STD.”

“I will go with you after work at 12.”

“OK, my friend is calling.  I have to go now. Bye!”

Thank God, she has someone to talk to on the phone, then I won’t have to worry that she will run out of the house.  At this moment, a male nurse came out and gave us the medicine. That’s wonderful, not even 2 hours yet. I opened the bottle and noticed that one is missing.  I asked the Pharmacist. He said if I want one more, that’s another $20 and I have to wait 1 hour.

Monday morning Fay woke up and came downstairs.  I asked her if she slept well. She said she did.  I made some nutritious breakfast for us. After we ate, I told Fay I have to go to work, but will come back at 12 to take her to the doctor’s.  She said she will wait for me. I called to check in with her in the middle of the day, everything’s fine.

After lunch, I brought her to have her physical.  Fay asked me to stay with little Blackie in the waiting room and not go inside with her.  I figured she must have something she didn’t want me to know, so I told her it is fine and respect her privacy.  

Fay came out after ½ hour.  The doctor told her to go to the hospital in the city center.  I said it would be fine, but let’s go get some food for the little dog.  I joked that I am her chauffeur today. She didn’t even crack a smile. We went to the pet shop.  Fay wanted to get a chew toy for Blackie, it was $20. Then she turned around and switched to a cheaper one.  I thought that was good that she knows the value of money and found a cheaper toy instead. A common symptom of people with bipolar disorder is excessive spending.  Fay also picked out two cans of dog food. Fay was quiet, didn’t have much facial expression.

I made a simple dinner for the three of us.  Out of nowhere, Fay screamed, “Eat this! Eat this!” using her chopsticks, picked up almost half of the plate of vegetables and dumped it onto her dad’s plate.  She was doing it so quickly that some of the vegetables fell on the table and made a mess.

I asked her what’s wrong.  She said that her dad has not been eating any vegetables, but he told her to eat. He must have put poison in the food.  She looked mean and very upset. She also said that he put his plate under the table, because his foods are not the same as ours.  Needless to say, this was a very unpleasant meal.

Before we went to bed, my husband and I had a little discussion.  I told him I don’t know what to do, I suggested that he eats his dinner before ours.  This is just temporary, Fay will get better. We have dealt with this same situation before with Fay saying that my husband is poisoning her.   While we were talking, Fay came knocking on our door asking for her meds.

Tuesday, Fay asked me what day of the week it is today.  I told her it is Tuesday and we can go pick up some meds since I am not working.  She agreed and said she wanted to make lunch for us. While she is prepping/cooking, I went to get myself ready.  

Fay came to get me, “Lunch is ready.  I made some scrambled pancakes.”  Should I eat it or shouldn’t I?  I don’t want to rain on her parade, but I don’t know what she had put in the food either.  Well, I guess I will eat it, the worst that can happen is I get a stomachache. I said to Fay, “Thank you, this is the first time I try this, it is a very interesting lunch.”  She showed no expression.   Years ago, whenever we talk, whatever topic comes up we always have a good laugh. I am hopeful that in time, she will get better.  

Fay asked to drive when we left the house.  I told her to be patient and wait a little longer.  We brought Fay’s little doggie, Blackie along to the city center and found the hospital.  Again, Fay asked me to look after him and and she went in alone. I asked if I can take Blackie outside, she didn’t say anything.  As I was walking out, I turned back and saw that she has tears in her eyes, she must have felt all alone. I can understand her pain of lost love and being ill.  After a ½ hour, I went in to check on her and overheard the front desk person telling Fay that since she is still connected with Kaiser, she needs to go to Kaiser and get her meds. So we left and drove to Kaiser.  On the way, we passed by John’s house, she asked to stop by so she can retrieve a few things that she had left at the house.

I told Fay that right now the most important thing is to pick up her meds and that we shouldn’t stop anywhere. I thought being direct is the best way to deal with her at this point.  We are going to swing by Walgreens to see if they got any response from Kaiser. If they have, we could pick up meds there and save a trip to Kaiser.

When we got to Walgreens, we found out that Kaiser had not responded even though it is already over 24 hours.  We were disappointed because now we have to drive to Kaiser (another 40 minute drive) to pick up the meds. Little Blackie started barking when we got to Kaiser.    The security guard told me not to bring the dog in. So I told Fay to get in line for a number and I will take doggie outside. I am worried that we might have to stay outside for a long time with the weather being so hot today. It’s good that lots of people passed by and played with Blackie, so time went by quickly.  

Looking at my watch, I realized that Fay has been in there for almost an hour.  Just at this moment, Fay came out, again, with no expression her face, just a tired look.

“The meds are very expensive.  They told me to go to Walgreens instead.”

“How much, honey?”

“I don’t know.”

“Ok, honey, stay here and let me go in to check.”

I went inside and approached the desk.  “Can you tell me who is the person that spoke with the young Asian woman?”  “It is me.”  someone stepped up.  Then he added, “Tell Walgreens to call us.”  He is repeating what Fay had already told me.  I feel my temper rising.

“It’s been more than 24 hours and you still did not respond to Walgreens.  I have a patient with me, and a little doggie running around. Now she has to wait outside.  What happens if she runs off? I want you to contact Walgreens NOW. When everything is arranged, then I will drive over there.”  I gave him Walgreens phone number.  He was still standing there hesitating.  

“I am not going to leave.  I will wait here for the result.” I added, “what is the price?”  (If it is not too much, I will just pay.)

“This one prescription is $9,500.  The other one may be …$5,000”

“Is this for a year?”  

“No, only for three months.”

I shouted, “Will you pay this amount if you were me?”

Thinking to myself, do I have to sell my house to pay for the meds?

“Please contact Walgreens right away.  I will go outside and check on the patient and I will be right back.”  (I was very upset)

**We have been paying for Fay’s Kaiser insurance, $950/a month for many years. She wants to be independent to apply Medi-Cal.  The regulation is she must be without medical insurance for 3 months before she can apply. Fay cancelled Kaiser, bravely went on without insurance.  She had a relapse before becoming a member of Medi-Cal. That was the reason Kaiser demand a big amount for medication.**

Fay was still standing at the same spot when I went outside.  I felt as if a rock is lifted off my chest. I told her that everything is settled.  We just need to wait a little longer and we can get the meds.

I went back into Kaiser, the front desk person informed me that he had made arrangements with the Oakland Walgreens.  Fay’s meds will be ready in two hours.  “Two more hours?  Ok. What is your name and when will you get off work?” (in case something happens).  He told me his name is Paul and he will be off at 7 pm.  I said if something happens, will he pick up the phone when I call?  He assured me that he would.

I told Fay we can leave and will go to Oakland Walgreens to pick up her meds after 2 hours.  Enroute, we passed by a park. “Momma, let’s take Blackie for a walk.  We have 2 hours.” “No, I think we should pick up the meds first, maybe it will be ready in an hour.”    

When we arrived at Oakland Walgreens, the meds was ready.  Fay said she will pay for it.

I thought it would be good to let her try and take care of things herself.  She went up and told the person that she is in the process of applying Medi-Cal.  They told her she will be able to save a little money. She handed over some bills and and got back her change. I told Fay to take one pill then.  I was so impressed with her and told her so. I joked that I thought I would have to sell my house. She also bought an already made sandwich. I never get her foods like this.  I always make her nutritious meals. This is going downhill for her.

I plan to go to the flower mart tonight at 1:30 am to pick up some flowers since I will be busy tomorrow all day at the shop.  My husband doesn’t work on Wednesdays, but what if Fay gives him trouble again like she had been lately? I thought of Margarita, my next door neighbor.  When she was sick, I took care of her. Maybe she wouldn’t mind reciprocating and take care of Fay for a day.

I called her and she said it is not a problem at all.  She indicates that she likes Fay very much.

“Tell me, what would you like me to do?”

“Please come over to my house at noon.  If Fay wants to walk her little dog, go with her but make sure she doesn’t go off somewhere or drive.  She is still not very stable.”

“If she does run off, what should I do?”

“Use your wits.  Talk to her gently and ask her to slow down.  And if it is necessary, call the police.”

“Can I bring Mary?”

“That would be great.” (Mary is a friend of Margarita, she has a lot of experience with people that has mental health challenges.)

I told Fay that Margarita will be over and she seemed ok with it.  I also told my husband about the two ladies coming over to keep Fay company so he can go about his own business.  He seemed relieved.

Wednesday came, Margarita brought her friend Mary.  They also brought some grown up play therapy toys with them to kill time.

Fay asked if they brought the toys with them to test her intelligence and then report to someone else.  Before Margarita and Mary had a chance to explain, a phone call interrupted them. It was a nurse from Kaiser letting Fay know that the doctor wanted to see her.  So Margarita and Mary drove Fay to the hospital, waited for her while she met with the doctor. Afterwards they went out to have tea/snack. I feel and appreciate my friends’ support.  

I close the shop an hour earlier, so I can go home and make dinner for Fay and me.  When I was looking in the refrigerator, I heard a voice behind me,

“Can I help you make dinner?”

“Yes, it would be wonderful.”  (I know this is not going to be a smooth task, so I remind myself more praise and less criticism.)

“This looks moldy.”  Fay said as soon as she opens the freezer.  “I am not eating something with mold and not from the freezer.”   (Wow! It already started….)

“Oh, yes, these apricots were from grandma’s backyard.  Let’s throw out those that are moldy then.”

“No, throw out the whole bag.”  

As soon as she said that, with a very determined look on her face, she tossed the whole bag into the trash can….I didn’t say anything, it’s not a big deal.  It’s already in the trash can, why make each other upset and destroy the harmony?

Then, I heard pouring water sound, turned around, saw Fay dumped the soy bean milk from a big wok into the sink.

“Fay, that soymilk is fresh, I made it especially for you.”

“No, they would have touched the mold because they were from the freezer.”

I reminded myself to stay calm. We are both tired, let’s just concentrate on making dinner.

“I am not going to eat anything from your freezer.”  Fay screamed at me.

“Ok, Fay, look…I have potatoes, canned beans and rice here.  They are not from the freezer.”

She gave it a quick glance. Didn’t say anything.  

“Why don’t you go get some rest?  When the food is ready I will call you.”  

After I finished cooking dinner, I brought my husband his food.  He is eating in the backyard. Fay and I ate by ourselves.

“Honey, why don’t we go visit Rosy tomorrow?”  (Rosy is my marriage and family therapist.  Fay had met her a couple of times. My feeling is when Fay was released from the hospital, she didn’t get a constructive family plan from the doctor.)  Rosy and I agreed that if Fay doesn’t want to see her, we will cancel the appointment.

Why do we have to see Rosy?”

“You can talk to Rosy about anything, get some support from her.  

“Ok.”  She agreed immediately.

“Tomorrow is Thursday.  We will go see her at 6 after work.  Will you wait for me?” Then I added, “I will call and remind you.”

“I want to walk the doggie.”

“Sure, I will go with you.”

We walked for more than an hour, I was very careful not to upset her, so I listened more than I talked.  When we got back, I emailed Rosy and made an appointment. Rosy asked, “What did the doctor want us to accomplish?” “I don’t know.  You decide!” “Ok, see you tomorrow.”

Before going to bed, I talked to my husband about our plans for tomorrow.  I told him I will have breakfast with Fay, then I will go to work and finish up some stuff.  Fay can walk the dog for an hour or so. But then what will she do after that?

“I can ask Mei-Mei if she can come and keep Fay company.  She is off today. She is used to take care of patients.” (Mei-Mei is Fay’s aunt.)

“If she can stay from 10-1, I should be home a little after 1.  Then you can take over the shop from 1-3. At 6 we will all go together to see Rosy.”

“Alright, I will contact Mei-Mei.  But I have to pick her up and take her home.”  

“It’s fine.”

He called and Mei-Mei immediately agreed.

I talked to Fay and she agreed that her Aunt Mei-Mei can come over and keep her company.

Meanwhile, Mei-Mei called me and in a loud voice, “You need to control her.”  I explained, “Fay’s illness is like gastric disease, heart disease, or diabetes,  When she is ill, she needs support, caring and encouragement. Would you control someone who had gastric surgery?”  I was not very happy with her comment, so many people are so ignorant about mental health challenges.  I told myself that from now on, I will work harder to help people understand this.

Thursday, Fay and I drove over to see Rosy. My husband drove separately in his own car.   

It is only a 10-minute drive.  That’s one of the main reason I chose her because it is so close to home.  I would not want to drive an hour to my doctor even though he is the best choice (with Fay’s state of mind).

Rosy came to the door to greet us.  After exchanging greetings, Fay started on her dad,  complaining on how he took away her meds, and putting poison in her vegetables.  It was a good thing that her dad had prepared himself for this, so he didn’t argue with her.  

Rosy then started talking to Fay directly, “Is there any positive things that you dad did?

“He introduced me to music.”  (I thought this would make him feel a little better.)  Then she continued, “All these years my mom tried so hard to understand and support me.  Look at her nails and teeth, they have fallen out.”  I was shocked that she noticed and understood me so well.  In my heart I always hope that Fay, as a grown woman, would understand how I feel.  

Rosy turned to me and asked if I wanted to share anything on my mind.  All these years of disappointment is rewarded by her simple statement. I couldn’t control my emotions, I cried loudly.  I cried for my daughter’s suffering.

When we got home, Fay’s dad said he already ate.  I am still trying to decide what kind of dinner to make when Fay offered to cook.  So I took this opportunity to freshen up, and change my clothes. By the time I got back into the kitchen, there’s foods on the table.  It’s very simple, like pancakes (reminds me of a full moon). Fay had put cheese inside two tortillas and fried both sides. Simple, but very tasty.  Fay said, “This is nothing, I used to make John even better foods.”

Her mind is still on John, I felt bad that we never talked about John and her broke up, her feelings, her emptiness and her sadness.  I just treated her as a sick daughter returning home to her mom even though she is already in her 30’s. This reminds me of my doctor’e email.  The most important thing is not what you do but to let her know who you are to her. For this, I don’t really understand what the true meaning behind.  

“I always buy what he likes to eat.”

“I know, but does he treat you the same way?”

“He doesn’t buy snacks, only once-in-awhile.”

“Do you miss him? After all, you have a four-year relationship.”

“He is always jealous and wants to control me.”  (I felt relieved, it means she won’t go back to him.)

“Honey, there are three phone numbers that my doctor gave me.  He said you should get in touch with a psychologist as soon as possible once you get out of the  hospital, best to do this within a week. It’s almost a week already.”

Fay tossed the piece of paper on the table, at least she didn’t throw it away.  This is a good sign.

“Can we continue our conversation?”


“Tomorrow is Friday, I am going to be very busy.  Can I come home at noon to check on you?”

“Sure, but I can take care of myself.”

“Just remember, safety first.”

Friday at work, I told myself not to worry about Fay, just concentrate on my job at hand.  The phone rang, it was Rosy. She said she is trying to contact Nancy (Nancy is a psychologist, has lots of experience with bipolar disorder, and she used to be Fay’s therapist.)  I am so glad that Rosy took on this “job” to help me find a psychologist for Fay. She suggested that I call these psychologists on Fay’s behalf. I asked Rosy if she is willing to see Fay again.  She said yes, and to have Fay contact her.

The numbers that Rosy gave me were one male and one females. I picked the female ones because I don’t want Fay to be triggered by a male psychologist and might remind her of her failed relationship with John.  The first female psychologist picked up the phone and asked me Fay’s age. I said Fay is in her 30’s. She said she can’t help because she is too old. I know I was being rude, but I can’t help but asked her how old she is.  She told me she is in her 70’s and won’t be able to help Fay long term. To me, she would be good for Fay because of her years of experience.

The day went by quickly.  I called Fay to let her know that I will be coming home at noon and will bring her some lunch.  When I arrived at the house, I saw that the house next door is renovating. Two shirtless men were standing around talking and laughing.  I drove the car into the garage, and noticed that the side door was wide open. It is usually closed except for the weekly garbage/recycling removal.  I went into the kitchen, and saw Fay standing in the middle of the room. The door to the fridge was wide open, there is nothing inside except for films of thick white powder in every space.  

“What’s going on, Fay?”

“There’s mold everywhere flying around.  I threw out all the foods.”

“What is this white powder?”   (I saw an empty baking soda box,)

“I drove to the store to pick up the baking soda, and spent a long time cleaning up for you.”  (she replied indignantly.)

“So where’s the food now?”

“They are in the trash can.”

I immediately ran through into the garage and out through the side door.  The trash can was filled to the rim, and the cover won’t even stay on. Oh my God!  All the foods from the freezer are in there, and even a pot too. It’s a good thing that some of the foods haven’t thawed.  There’s expensive dried scallops, Chinese Fat Choy and some sea cucumber. I immediately took them out, but of course I can’t save all of the food because they are all over the place.  So I just have to leave it.

“Fay, come out here, I have to talk to you.”  

I was sweating and I yelled into the house. Fay came out.

“From now on, anything in the house that needs to be thrown out have to go through me.”

She stood there looking like a scared little girl, waiting for punishment.  Am I being too mean?

After several minutes of silence, Fay spoke,

“I worked really hard to fix it up for you.”

“I know. Thank you, but please check with me in the future.  Now please go inside and eat the lunch I bought for you. It’s your favorite.  I have to go back to work now.”

After I got back to the flower shop, I felt disturbed, did I scare my daughter?  At this moment, the phone rang. I picked up, the caller asked for Jean.

“This is Jean.”

“I am Yamainouko.  After careful considerations, I’ve come to the conclusion that I cannot help your daughter.  I am usually gone on the weekends and on major holidays (like Christmas) and I usually travel far.  I cannot be reached via phone or cell phone. If your daughter needs me in case of an emergency, she won’t be able to find me.”  

She continued,

“However, I know of another female psychologist, she has a doctorate degree, and had also worked as a registered nurse.  She might be a good fit. Give me a couple of days to get in touch with her and I will let you know.”

“That sounds good.  However, I gave your phone number to my daughter yesterday.  She might call you. Do you mind telling her yourself?”


“Because I want her to gain more experience by herself and not depend on me.”

“OK, Does Fay have any long term friends?”  (I don’t understand why she asked this question.)

“Yes, she does – mostly long term friendship, very few short term.”

Tomorrow is Saturday and weekends are usually very busy for me.  I don’t want to leave Fay at home by herself.

“Honey, I have to work tomorrow.   I can come back and keep you company for an hour when dad comes to relieve me at the shop at 4.  I can bring something back for you to eat. But what are you going to do the whole day?”
“Can I go see Rosy?”

“We need to call her.”  

Rosy usually doesn’t work on the weekends, maybe she will make an exception this time.  I called her, and she didn’t pick up. So I left her a voicemail.

“Rosy is very responsible, she will call back.”  (Fay mumbled.)

“Honey, can I ask you something?”  I don’t want to pressure her, but I do want to check in.

“What is it?”

“Did you call those three number I gave you, the three psychologists?”

“I did, left them messages and now waiting for them to call back.”

“Thank you!  You are very responsible.  Here’s a check for Rosy. When you see her don’t forget to give it to her.  Can you keep it in a safe place?”

She looked at the amount on the check.  

“So expensive!!”

“It is not that expensive.  Rosy is a Licensed Family Therapist.  If it is someone with a doctorate, it will cost even more.  They all have years of experience, they can help. It is worth the money.  And besides you are worth it.”

“I like to go for a walk.”

“Ok, let’s take the doggie.  I will go with you.”

There was a night breeze, and I feel a little chilly even though it is still summer.  I don’t even know what happened but during the walk, Fay and I got on each other’s nerves, so we headed back home.  During the walk, she started complaining about her dad taking her meds away, putting poison in the vegetables, and all the mold in the freezer.  I told her not to worry, there’s another small fridge in the garage. There’s no mold, so she can put her foods there.”

I washed up and was getting ready for bed when Fay suddenly came into our bedroom. Automatically I stood in front of my husband, blocking Fay.  She looked really angry and fierce,

“Even though I have bipolar disorder, I am not a hypocrite like someone else.”  I replied, “Yes, lots of people have shortcomings, but you are kind and decent.”  She turned around and left the room.  I had wanted to continue our conversation, but I was tired.  As long as she feels good about herself, it is a good sign already.

Saturday, Fay and I had breakfast together.  

“Momma, I have no appetite and I’ve lost weight.”

“You will have your appetite back when you feel better, give it some time.  Let me know what you like to eat, and I will get it. Or you can go and pick out what you like, eat a little at a time.”

It seems like she had lost her life’s little pleasure.  

“Momma, whatever I do, even small things, I have to use a lot of energy.”

“Honey, Momma understand.  You will get better with time.  You just need to take good care of yourself.”

She didn’t acknowledge me and didn’t say anything.  I hope she heard what I said. I told her that I am very proud for all the things that she had done: taking care of her doggie, go see Rosy, calling those three psychologists…etc. etc. and it hasn’t even been a week since she was discharged from the hospital.  I remind myself to always encourage her and praise her as my doctor had told me too. I also said she should take one day at a time, and often give herself a pat on the back.

I left her and went back to work.  I assured her that I will be back at 3 and for her to watch the house. I felt that her condition had improved.  I made a promise to myself that I will take care of her no matter what.

Carol called (she is one of the three doctors, the one that has a Ph.D)

“Jean, your daughter called me, but I would like to chat with you first.”

“Please go ahead.”

“I want to see Fay in person.  Our first meeting will be 1-½ hour because we have lots to discuss.  My rate is $175 per hour. The first session is going to be $263.” (She sounded very experienced and confident).

“Please continue.”

“Do you want Fay to bring me a check or do you want to mail it to me?”  (She is calling me so she can get paid?)

“She can bring it to you. How much experience do you have with her kind of disorder?”

“I have 17 years of experience, I also worked as a nurse previously and am very mindful of nutrition.  All my patients like me.”

“Do you have groups?”

“Not at the moment.”  (I am not too worried about this because Kaiser has groups.)

“Do you like groups?”

“I do, because in a group setting, the patient will get support from each other.  They can even learn from each other, and may possibly make friends.”

“Well, my fee is $175.  If she stays with me, there might be a discount.”  

I don’t want to discuss price with her, because I don’t know how long Fay will be with her, or even if she likes her.  Fay should make her choice, this is good for her.

“Why don’t you contact Fay and see if she wants to meet you, I will pay.  My husband and I are trustworthy people. However, we are still searching for a doctor who can really help her.”

I am hinting that if she is not experienced or good enough, don’t try to take advantage of the situation.”

Fay’s dad came to the flower shop around 3 to take over while I went to pick up some foods for Fay.  

“Honey, how do you feel today?”  (She looks very calm.)

“I just came back from Rosy.”

“What did you learn?”
“Rosy really listened to me.  I like her, but I don’t need to see her anymore.”

“Why? Is it because it is too expensive?”

“No, I want someone who will tell me the truth.”  

It’s good, she is making demands, she is wising up. I think I understand what she means.  A lot of clinicians are very careful, they listened, but then used different words to repeat what the patient had said (reflective listening).  

“Honey, I need to go back to the shop now.  I will see you at 6 pm.”

When I arrived at the shop, my husband didn’t want to go home to face Fay.  I made a suggestion for him to go check on the renovation of our rental apartment and have dinner out.  He reluctantly left.

The apartment has two units, one of the tenant, Richard lived there for 14 years, and had just moved out a few days after Fay came home.  Back in June, when we found out that he planned on moving, we hired Mr. Chin to come and do some renovations. The place is clean, except for the flooring in the kitchen.  It is really old. Mr. Chin suggested putting in new windows, new cabinet and flooring. We agreed on a price and asked Mr. Chin to start the renovation when Richard moved out.  Everything had been arranged, and since Fay’s been home, we did not have a chance to go see the place. We put our faith and trust in him.

When I got home, I looked into the freezer.  That white film of baking powder had dissolved, only a thin film remained.  Yet Fay refused to eat anything from there. “Honey, come see this.  I just bought you dumpling wrappers, fish fillet and vegetables.  We can make dumplings to celebrate the weekend. These foods are not from the freezer.”  I set up everything and Fay came over. She picked up a spoon and ate some of the ingredients for the dumplings. “Fay, that’s not cooked.”  I was scared, it’s like a homeless person digging through the trash in search of food, and not care what they eat.  Would my precious daughter be like them one day going through garbage cans? I told myself to calm down. Worse comes to worse is that she gets a stomach ache and diarrhea.   

“Momma, did you know that sushi is made of raw fish?”

“That’s a different type of fish, and it is prepared with some other foods that can kill germs.”

I thought it is best to get her away from the raw food.

“Honey, I think I will sit here quietly and wrap the dumplings.  Why don’t you go get a snack? When I am done, I will call you.”

She walked away quietly and I rushed and in record time finished wrapping all the dumplings.  Everything went smoothly as we ate our dinner.

“Mom, what day is tomorrow?”

“It is Sunday, do you have any plans?”   She shook her head.

“I am only going to work till 3.  Do you want to do something?”

She didn’t answer, looking depressed.  It’s like she is waiting for someone else to plan her day, and just waiting for time to go by.  

It’s been a week since Fay came home.  This has been a very long week for us, worrying about her, it’s like we live by each hour and not knowing what the next hour will bring.  When the phone rings, I have to tell myself to calm down but also prepare myself that maybe I have to give up my flower shop business.

My husband is very helpful.  As soon as he gets off work each day, he comes by the store.  Then I can go home and check on Fay. If the house is still standing and Fay’s car is still there, I felt a sense of relief.  

Sunday when I got home, Fay’s car was not there. I ran into the house to see if she left a note.  After a short while, she came home, face all flushed and Blackie running after her.

“Honey, what’s wrong?  How come your face looks all flushed? The sun?”

“No, I went to San Francisco Bay.”  

It is an hour drive, I am glad that she came back safely.

“Why didn’t you put on some sunscreen?  How’s the sun burn? Is it painful?” Looks like she has been out in the sun for several hours.

“Yes, it’s a bit painful.” I have had sunburn before, I know how it feels.

“Next time remember to use sunscreen.  We have different kinds, they are kept right here.”

Fay didn’t really look at me, and didn’t move either.  

“So what do you think you should do about your face?”

“I will go wash my face in cold water.”  

After a short time, she called from her room upstairs.  

“Who went in my room?  The book that Ally gave me is gone.”

“Look around some more.  No one went in your room.”

“It’s either my brother or dad.”

“Your brother is out of the country.”

“Is he really in Japan?”

“Yes, your dad and I took him to the airport.  You didn’t see him leave, that’s why you didn’t know.”  I said it to make her feel better.

“I can’t stay here anymore.  This house is not safe.”

“What can I do to help?”

“I can move to your apartment.  I will pay rent.”

“Let me discuss this with dad.  As long as it is a reasonable request, anything that can help you, we will consider it.”

It’s not so much about rent, it’s the doggie.  If he barks and makes a lot of noise, it will disturb the neighbors.  I need to really consider this matter. I thought back the many times we had refused to let her move into the apartment, now if we allow it, then it means we say one thing and do another.  We don’t want to be hypocrites. I talked to my husband, and he agreed.

So we decided to ask our doctor.  He said as long as it is good for her, try it out.  Give her a chance. I went back to Fay and told her to be patient, and that she can move to the apartment shortly, but not right away.  I didn’t want to share with her that Mr. Chin is there renovating the apartment. I don’t want her to go there to disturb him, and besides, there are so many nails, wood pieces and tools around.  It is not safe for her.

All of a sudden, Fay got up and pushed the love seat and the sofa together,  forming it into a bed.

“What are you doing? This is our living room.”  It scared me, what is she going to do next?  punch the wall? break the windows?

“I want to sleep here. Doggie doesn’t like the bedroom upstairs, he barks at night.”

“This is the living room.  How would it look if we have guests?”  Inside I am telling myself to calm down, but instead I said,

“OK, Fay.  You can stay down here temporarily.  I was just afraid that when I go to the Flower Mart at night I might wake you.”

“It will be fine.”  She is calmer now.  

I am not sure if I am doing the right thing.  Should I just give in like this, or make her follow the rules, and control her?

I am guessing this move derived from losing her book from her room.  It is like my friend Glory who refused to go back to her apartment after she was discharged from a mental health facility because she thought someone is stealing her things and eavesdropping on her phone call.  The landlord gave her a month to move her things out. Glory has no relatives and no friends, and no one to help, so eventually she became homeless and lost all her belongings because the landlord confiscated her stuff.  

I went to see the landlord trying to get her stuff back and help her find another apartment, but it was too late.  Once-in-a-while, Glory would stop by the flower shop and I would buy her a sandwich or two. She has no table manners, no social etiquette of any sort.  I don’t want Fay to be like Glory, so I always keep in touch with our relatives so they know what’s going on with Fay. And one day when my husband and I leave this world, someone can take care of Fay for us.  I know Fay would like to keep her condition private, but it is worth it in the long run.

“Fay, can I ask you something?”

“Go ahead.”

“Did you contact those three doctors?”

“We spoke.”

“Can you share that with me?”

“The one in San Francisco is too far.”

“How about the Japanese doctor?”

“She said she doesn’t have time.”

“She told me she will refer another doctor.  Did a Carol contact you?
“Yes, she did.  I am going to see her tomorrow.”

“Carol is the one referred by the Japanese doctor.”

“The Japanese doctor is a Licensed family marriage therapist.  My doctor said she did some frivolous things and left home at a very young age.”

“What frivolous things?”  Fay asked.

“I don’t know.  Let me find out from my doctor and then I will share it with you.”  

This is a good sign that she is interested in other people.

“Honey, this check is for Carol. Do you know her address?”  

“I will go there by myself  and bring doggie with me” She didn’t look at the amount of the check.

“Leave the doggie at home.  He will be a distraction for you and Carol.  Remember Rosy didn’t want you to bring him either?  Why don’t you call Carol and see if it is ok?”

It’s bedtime, Fay laid on the sofa with Blackie cuddled next to her.  I was reading a book and read off a few jokes to her. Seeing her smile again reminded me of how it was like when she was a child, my love.

Monday, a busy day for me.  Knowing that Fay is going to see Carol, I feel better.  I’ve made up my mind that I will close the shop early on Mondays so I can spend time with her.  By the time I got home, I saw Fay is there already.

“How do you like Carol?”

“I like her a lot, she is excellent.”

“That’s wonderful.  Was it easy to find the office?”
“It was ok.”  She didn’t elaborate.

“She mostly listened.  That’s usually the case for the first time.

I made a simple lunch for the two of us.  After we ate,

“Do you want to go anywhere?”

“Go to the dog park with doggie. I drive.”  

I am a little curious that she needs to drive instead of just walk the dog close by.

“Where is the dog park?”  

It was a little nerve wrecking sitting in her car and have no control of my life.  Fay drove past the city, then onto the highway. Where is the dog park? I didn’t want to ask again, just want her to concentrate on driving. After a short time, we arrived at the countryside.  I saw hillside, weeds and wildflowers.

I asked, “Are we almost there?”  She replied, “We are here.”

She stopped the car and we got out.  Thank God we made it here safely. I saw some dogs running around with their owners.  Lots of people, men and women, this is not my world. I followed Fay and little Blackie.  As we go down the slopes, some people noticed Fay’s little cute doggie,and came up to say hello.  

“Have you been here before?”

“I used to come here all the time with John.”  (She looks a little sad, bringing back memories?)

“Everyone walking by are talking about me and Blackie.”  She sounded sad, and this is not a good thing.

“But, Fay, they all like little Blackie.  You can say hi to them first..”

Fay took my suggestions and started conversing with people, exchanging pleasantries.  From the outside, everything looks fine.

After an hour, I asked Fay if she wanted to go home.  She agreed.

“People were still talking bad about me.”  She complained as she was driving us back.

“Honey, look at the person waiting to cross the street.  We talk about him too, his looks and how he dressed.”

She didn’t say anything.

“If that person dresses neatly, we will compliment him.  But if he is dirty, we will look down on him too, right?”


I was trying to make a general comment, not criticizing her.  

This week went by quietly.  Fay’s dad tried to avoid any confrontation with Fay, and had been taking his meals in the backyard.  And, surprisingly, Fay actually asked about her dad a couple of times.

Before we headed to bed, I told Fay a story, much like I used to do.  I told Fay that I will be going to the Flower Mart at midnight, using the side door so as not to wake her.  She said thank you (sounded grateful). I said good night and turned the light off for her.

I normally drive to the Flower Mart around 2 am.  Tonight for some reason I cannot sleep. So I decided to leave at 1:00 am.  The vendor asked me why I came so early this time. I told him I couldn’t sleep so I came early to kill time.  After I picked out the flowers, I went home and saw all the lights are on in the living room. Is Fay not able to sleep like me?

I went inside the house, noticed that the window is wide open, the night wind blowing the curtain wildly, and Fay is not sleeping on the sofa.  I ran outside onto the street, her car is gone too. I woke up my husband and told him Fay is gone and so is the car. He said perhaps she is upstairs in her bedroom. I told him no, the car is gone. I called her cell and she picked up. She said she and Blackie are sleeping at Carol’s office building. I asked if she is alone and if there is anyone else there.  She said it is not safe at home so she went there with the doggie. I wonder how she got in, if she got a code somehow. “Do you want me to come and keep you company?” She said no and then hung up.  

I called and left a voicemail for Carol to leave me the address of her office building so I can go look for Fay.  My husband told me not to worry. It’s almost day break, I looked at the time, it is almost 5 am.

At 7 am, Carol called and said she just got into the office….before she finished, I can hear Fay opening our front door.  I thanked Carol and told her that Fay just got home. I cried tears of joy, I appreciate Carol and her concern. Now that Fay is home, I dropped everything and tried to get a little sleep before I have to go to work.

Tuesday came, I didn’t go in to work until noon.  When I have idle moments, my thoughts will go to Fay.  Will she run away from home? It is possible. Do I need to find a place that offers 24 hours of care so someone can watch her?  Will she be like Susan’s son living in a convalescent home his whole life? Will she be able to work again? I cannot watch her 24 hours.  I will not be able to function and she will not let me either.

I contacted Bonita House, they only take patients that have brain disease, plus drug addicts or drunks.  Then I contacted another place, they don’t have any opening at the moment. I tried more places, left messages until I got so tired I had to stop.  Happened to glance up at the calendar, I saw a big note saying my son is coming home from Japan on August 9th. He is coming back to talk about his wedding plans.  I don’t want this to affect Fay, she might think that he is back and the one taking her belongings.

I decided to contact her two best friends Heidi and Plum to see if they can take her and Blackie on a  weekend trip and return late Monday night. I will cover all the expenses like food, gas and lodging. I explained the reason about her brother coming back on the 9th to discuss his wedding plans.  Her friend said to me pointedly that Fay should not suffer because of her brother’s return. Can’t he stay at a hotel or at a friend’s house? She is right, but I told her honestly, I need a break from Fay.  

Heidi said she will check with her boyfriend so she can be away.   Heidi is Filipina and her boyfriend is Chinese. His parents at one point objected their relationship.  At that time I had told Heidi that I will speak to the parents on her behalf.

The next day Heidi told me Plum is inviting everyone on Friday to her place for dinner. After that, they will take Fay and Blackie to a motel nearby and spend the night.  And if it works out, then the next day they can go for a drive to some scenic place a couple of hours away. Fay will enjoy it.

I am so thankful, told Heidi that I will still pay for all expense.  I asked if she would let Fay know. “How about we meet you at the flower shop before we go pick up Fay?” “That would be great, I will have a check ready for you.”  I don’t know how generous these young people are, it’s better to pay them first.  To try out at a motel first is such a great idea, nowadays the young people thinks of everything.    

Got a reminding call from my doctor about our appointment this Thursday. I asked if I can bring Fay.  He told me to ask her if it is ok, and don’t force her. Fay agreed to come. The doctor wanted a short intro, then my husband and I will leave the room and give them space.  If she likes him, then we will rejoin them for a family session. Naturally, I have no objection.

He asked if there is anything else.  I asked if he will observe and see if the hospital’s diagnosis is correct.  He said it’s been two weeks, it is hard to tell. He can only use what the hospital had said as a guideline.  If it was right after she was discharged, it would be much easier. I always wonder if her diagnosis is correct.  .

Wednesday I reminded Fay that we have an appointment with the doctor the next day.  We will meet up at 5 pm and then leave at 6 pm. We need to be on time.

Thursday morning I left the house early while Fay is still sleeping.  My husband and I went through the side door to grab breakfast at a cafe nearby.  I didn’t want to cook in the kitchen so I won’t wake her. I went to work and around 4 pm I called home.  My husband said Fay left the house. I asked him to call her cell to remind her of our appointment with the doctor at 7.  He called and reported back to me that she is in Mountain View and she is going to be late since it is commute time.

I immediately called the doctor and he changed our appointment time to 7:30.  I went home and had dinner with my husband. It’s been awhile since we eat together.  Around 6, I called Fay and asked where she is at. She said she got lost and there’s a lot of traffic. She will meet us at the doctor’s if I give her the address.  I told her to come home because it is hard to tell her how to get to the doctor’s office. (She is on the highway, I don’t want to talk too long to distract her.) At 7, I contacted the doctor again.  He said he will go get some dinner and pushed the appointment to 8..

I came up with the idea to have Fay get off the highway at the next exit and let us know where she is, so we can pick her up.  Fay said she wants to take Blackie home. I told her she should just bring Blackie with her. After a little while, she called me and said she is in San Pablo/Ashby, across from a gas station. I told her to stay in the car, lock the doors and wait for us.  

My husband drove us. I called the doctor and he was ok with Fay bringing Blackie.  I am so glad that he didn’t cancel our appointment till another later date. He definitely understands how important this meeting is to me.  From afar, we saw Fay’s old car. Thank God she is there.

I brought her some dinner, but she refused to eat it because it came from our freezer, the mold and the whole bit. She said she has water, then she got in our car with Blackie.  Well, if she doesn’t want to eat, it just means she is not hungry. I told myself, she is trying my patience.

Three of us and little Blackie all crowded into the doctor’s small office.  We made the introductions and the doctor asked if Fay want to have some water.  Fay said yes. It is so unnecessary. He never offered me any water when I came to the office.  He couldn’t find a cup. It is very obvious, the room is so small that I can see that there isn’t any.  He is wasting time.

I grabbed the water bottle from Fay’s hand and went outside to the cooler in the lobby and filled it up with cold water.  Got back in the room and stuffed it in her hand. Then I noticed that Blackie is starting to wiggle. I immediately snatched him up and put him on my lap.  He probably felt my energy and immediately settled down quietly. Did I scare him? Can I tame him? I am the one that is always afraid of dogs, what came over me?  

The doctor started with Fay first, “Your parents and I have always discussed about a more constructive way of supervision……”  At that moment I realized that I have not done what we had planned, to leave the room and let them get acquainted.  He forgot too. Fay started repeating the issues about her dad stealing her medicine, her brother visiting her in the hospital…etc. etc.  I did notice that she is not as agitated as the time when she went to see Rosy. I feel a bit better.

“Louie was at the hospital and he took care of me.  But now he said he was never there.”

“Then you should just take his word for it.  What did you study?”

“Creative writing.”

“Have you written anything lately?”

“I wrote a poem yesterday.”

Fay looked happy with a big smile on her face and then she mentioned about my teeth and my fingers but not in an exasperated way like she was before.   

“I want my dad to stay far away from me. I don’t want anything to do with him.”

The doctor acknowledged her request.    

“The hospital that I stayed was horrible.  The case manager only want to take our money.  But, there’s a couple of good people.”

“They are only there to help you recover.”

“You were not there, how do you know? You are wrong.”  (Fay looked angry and her face darkened and her tone to him was rude.)

She got up, came over and snatched Blackie from my lap.  Then she took out a small can of dog food for him to eat.  I sat on the side and I watched her expression closely.

Now it is my turn, I turned to Fay,

“Before you went to the hospital, did you stop taking meds?”


I want to confirm this because her case manager told us that she stopped taking it.

“Did your case manager know you did not stop taking meds?”


“Do you remember when you were discharged, the doctors told you to cooperate with me and dad, and to let us know when you go some place far?”  (Silence)

“I am really tired, and you won’t let dad help.  I need to go to work and I need to find someone to help me take care of you.  May be your aunt can help.” I started to cry uncontrollably, like a kid.  All the emotions, all the worries and frustrations all came tumbling out.  Suddenly, I felt my husband’s hand on my shoulder and I immediately stopped crying.  I needed him to console and support me.

“I didn’t ask you to stop working.”  (Fay’s protective mechanism came out.)

The doctor stepped in and asked if we can have another family session next time.  I nodded.

We left the office, I was the last person out.  It signifies that I am the protector of my family.  I felt the doctor’s hand on my shoulder.

“I don’t like him.”  (Fay in an unfriendly tone.)


“Didn’t you tell me that you had planned my dinner?”

“Didn’t you eat it already?”  (I teased her.)


“It’s cold now, but here it is.”   (She consumed the whole thing.)

Friday Carol called to let me know that she is going to meet with Fay next Tuesday and she would like it to be a family session therapy. I told her that it is a good idea but not necessary at this point, because we just had one with my family doctor last night.  I do want to meet with her at a later date.

I noticed that since Fay came home from the hospital, she has too much time on her hands.  This is not good for her recovery. So I suggested that she joins a group at Kaiser. She didn’t object, so I contacted her case manager about this.  

One day, I bought lunch for Fay and she thanked me.  It looks like she is better. Recovery is a long road, sometimes it can be smooth sailing and sometimes there can be obstacles.

“Momma, there is a listening device in this house.”

Fay looked disturbed, poor kid.

“Where is it?”  

I am curious, I didn’t make any accusations.

“It’s inside the lamp in the living room.”

“Come, let’s go check it out.”

I led her over to the lamp, we both bent down to look up.  

“The lamp looks very complicated.  Did you see anything?” (I gently shook the lamp.)

“Let’s go look at the one in the kitchen.”  She followed me to the kitchen, is like playing a game.  We both looked at the lamp. This one is very clean, no co-webs…..her dad took very good care of it.

“Honey, in spy movies, there were listening devices, but they were put in by spies.”  I just want to make her understand her thought do exist and I value her thought.  

We went back to the living room.  

“Momma, there’s one device here too.”


She pointed the space between the sofa and the floor, it’s empty there but she drew a circle in the air. I noticed the look of distress on her face, so I followed suit and drew a circle in the air.  I don’t know what else to say or do.”

“Momma, the next door neighbor is listening to our conversation.”  She pointed over to John’s house.

“Ok, let me mention his name loudly, then he will wonder what Fay and Jean are talking about him.”

I laughed out loud and Fay smiled.  I am trying to lighten the mood, what else can I do?

“Momma, the people on the street are eavesdropping on our conversations.”

“Yes, honey.  Remember the night of Hanukkah when we passed by some Jewish household, we heard people partying and singing.  I want to hear people singing and talking. Aren’t you curious too?” I want to agree and not argue with her.

“Momma, I want to move to your apartment.”

“There shouldn’t be any problem.  Mr. Chin is now changing all the windows, it’s now safe for you to go over there.”  I will say anything to pacify her.

“It’s ok.  He doesn’t need to change the windows.  I don’t mind.”

“He already started the project.”
“I want the locks changed, dad cannot have my key.”

“Fay, by law the landlord must have a spare key in case of emergency.  You can change the lock, but you need to give me a spare.”

“Tell Mr. Chin not to change the lock, I will.”  

Does she not trust Mr. Chin, afraid that he would keep an extra copy for himself?

My husband came to the shop and I grabbed the chance to take a break.  When I went back to the shop to relieve my husband. He didn’t want to go home and face Fay.  I told him to go over to the apartment and check on Mr. Chin, see how much has been done and rush him to get it done before our son comes home so Fay can move over there.  He asked if I feel ok for Fay to stay there by herself, I assured him that I will stay with her.

Monday came, Fay went to see her case manager, then went to a group.  I know that she is cooperating and listening to my guidance.

“How do you feel about group?”

“Many sad cases.”

“Yes, everyone has his/her issues.  Try to listen, maybe offer some solutions.  Put yourself in their shoes, and what you would do.  Help each other, and you can build relationships too.”

“What if it is too heavy-duty and too sad, and I can’t bear it.  What should I do?”

“Let it go in one ear and out the next.  Pretend you never heard. It will strengthen you.”

“Momma, I am going to see Carol tomorrow.” I handed her a check.  She looked and exclaimed that it is so expensive.I told her, “You are worth it.  I love you.”

Tuesday I called home and Fay picked up.  

“Did you see Carol?”

“I was late then I saw a car following me.  I was scared.”

“Did you tell Carol?”


“What did she say?”

She couldn’t give me a straight answer.  

“I stopped on the way to get some dog food, that’s why I was late.”

“Honey, next time when you go see Carol, don’t stop anywhere.  Go directly to her office. Also, try to get there on time and don’t be late.  Try it.”

After our conversation, Carol called.  

“Fay is restless today.  I would like to see her twice a week.”

“Thank you.  We have discussed what happened today.  She thought someone was following her. She is imagining things.  What can I do?”

“Tell her the truth.”  She is being straightforward.

“For now I want her to see you only once a week, the remaining of the time let her explore and find herself and grow.  She is also going to Kaiser once a week to see her case manager, and twice a week to group therapy. This is enough for now.”    

I thought I should use Kaiser since we have this insurance, seeing Carol twice a week is quite costly.

“Ok, that sounds fine.”

“Do you think her meds right now is right for her diagnosis?”  She had asked me before if the doctor is top notch or not?

“Can you give me her doctor’s phone number?”

Of course there is no problem to give it to her since I have records of it.

“Personally I felt that she has improved.  What do you think?”

“Let’s just put it this way.  She is not totally lost….”

“She wants to move out.  Do you think it is safe?”
“Let her try.  She is over 30 years old.”

At midnight, Fay brought Blackie with her and again drove to Carol’s office building to spend the night.  I learned from my experience the other night and now am a lot calmer. I told my husband what Carol had said. I asked if he wouldn’t mind helping Mr. Chin and get things moving along so Fay can move there ASAP.  He promised to give a hand to Mr. Chin.

Friday, I got a hold of Heidi, Fay’s friend.

“Heidi, can you please make sure that you bring Fay’s meds and have her take them on time, one during the day and another at night?  If she forgets any clothing, just get some on the road. I will pay for everything. When you come to pick her up, ask Fay for the checks.  All you have to do is fill out the amount. I trust you explicitly. Ask Fay to pay for food, so she can feel responsible.”

“I am going to take care of her Friday and Saturday, and Holly will take care of her on Sunday.”

“If something urgent comes up, please call me.  If not, don’t bother.” I want her to know I trust them.

“We are going to a place with hills and water.  It is within an hour drive. Fay will like it there.” She already told me this before.  We need friends at this moment in time.

Saturday morning, my husband and I went to pick our son at the airport.  He complained that the car is dirty. I told him that I used this car to buy and deliver flowers, it was even more messy before, but his dad already did some cleaning.  He didn’t even know what we had gone through to get to this point for his arrival. He asked about Fay, I told him that she had broken up with her boyfriend, and just left for a trip with her friends.  He stopped asking.

When we got home, our son opened up his suitcase and gave each of us a jacket – one for me, one for his dad, one for his aunt and uncle and one for Fay and also a backpack.  He is in the clothing business. He told us to make sure that Fay knows the backpack came from Japan. He placed Fay’s gifts on the table by the door, so when Fay comes back, she will not miss it. I said goodbye to him and my husband then I went to work.

Time went by quickly since my son came home.  Most of the time he is out with his friends. The night before he left, we met for dinner at a restaurant.  He showed us his wedding agenda, and the gift to us from his fiancèe. There is also some gift money for Fay from her.     

“When we get home, I am going to get your measurements.  My fiancée wanted to make a dress for you for the wedding.”   

“But I have clothes to wear.”

“She wants to make a special dress for you.”  She is also in the clothing business.

I am in no mood to argue as long as everything goes smoothly.  When we walked in the front door, he said he is not going to sleep tonight, he will sleep on the plane.  Then he measured me for the dress. I need to go to sleep because I have to go to the Flower Mart at midnight.

When I got back at 5am, my son is still busy packing…I told him that dad will take him to the airport because I am too tired to go.  We hugged each other goodbye.

Sunday, Heidi called.

“Jean, you want me to take Fay to the apartment, but she wants to come home first.”

“No problem,’   My son already left.

Fay came back in the afternoon.

“Honey, how was the trip?  Did you have fun?”

“It was ok.  I had a fight with Holly and she cried.”

“Will you tell me later?””


“Fay, here’s your gifts from your brother.  He wants you to know that the backpack came from Japan.”

“This gift looks like it had been opened.”

“Sometimes the security in the airport needs to inspect items and they will be opened.”

“Did he ask about me?”

“Yes, he did.  I told him you went on a trip with friends.”

“He is playing a trick on me with the gifts.”

“He is sincere.  You can bring it with you to Carol and talk to her about it.”

Right now, Fay doesn’t trust anyone, this is one sign of her illness.  I thought I would wait awhile before I give her the gift from his fiancèe.  I am afraid that if I give it to her now, she will spend it. This is also another sign of her illness.

“If you want to, tell me about the misunderstanding between you and Holly.”

“Yesterday a friend of mine called Holly and wanted to see me.  Holly didn’t specify the date and time. When I found out, I got mad at her, and she cried.”

“May be she doesn’t want to share you with other people.”

“We are ok now.”  Since Holly took care of Fay yesterday, may be she felt that she should not let her be with other people.  It is probably a misunderstanding. I should call and apologize on behalf of Fay.

Monday I called Holly to apologize and to thank her for taking care of Fay. She told me that yesterday was not a good day.  Perhaps Fay had been outside for too long and, and the dog won’t stopped barking. Yes, I can understand, they were outside too long, poor kids.

Tuesday, Fay went to see Carol.  When she came back she told me Carol is going on vacation for a week.  She told Fay that they can talk on the phone. I said that’s fine but I thought to myself that Fay should learn to be a little more independent.  She doesn’t need to see Carol every week now, may be every other week should be ok too. I can keep an eye on her during the time when she is not seeing Carol.

“Honey, did you show Carol the gifts from your brother?”

“She told me to write him a thank you note.”

“Sure, when you finish, dad can mail it for you.”

Wednesday, Carol called.  

“Jean, I am going on vacation for a week.”

“Yes, I heard about it from Fay.  Thank you for letting her call you if she needs to.”

“I spoke to Fay’s doctor about ½ hour. “

“Did you talk to him about Fay’s meds? If there is something more suitable for her.”

She didn’t respond.

“In the future, I will not be speaking to you about Fay, unless it is absolutely necessary.  We need to respect Fay’s privacy. If anything urgent comes up, call 911.”

“I understand, thank you.”

Friday, Fay went to the group therapy at Kaiser.  When she came home, she said,

“I gave someone in the group $60.”

“Why did you give away so much money?”  Personally, I am very frugal.  I cook for her and my family and never buy lunch, and here she is spending money like that.

“He needs money, I volunteer to give him that.”

“You know that there is a possibility that he may not pay you back.”

“I know money comes and goes.  It is no big deal.” (Oh my God, no big deal? Since she had fallen ill, her dad and I spent almost $3,000 on her.  So should we stop spending money on her anymore?)

“Honey, from now on.  Don’t give anyone money.”

“Ok.”  No argument from her.

“So when can I move into the apartment?”

“Anytime.  It’s ready.  I am the landlord, so you need to notify me when you decide to move.”

“How much is it a month?”

“It will be $300.  Will that be alright?”

“Yes, I will move tomorrow.”

“I will help you.”

“Heidi said she has some furniture that I can have.”

“Is she bringing them to you or are you picking up?”

“I will go get it.  Sunday will be the best time”  It is over an hour’s drive, of course I need to go with her.  And I also get to see her friend. She is an only child, friends are important to her.

“Ok, this Sunday then.  I will close the shop so we can go.  Should we bring some flowers to Heidi?”


Saturday we move Fay to the apartment.  From our house to the apartment it is only a 15-min drive.  Everytime she moves to a new place, her bookcase and her books are the first things she moved in there.  Ever since she was a little kid, she had loved to read. Today, by the time I got back from work, all the books have already been unpacked and put onto the shelves nice and neat.  Even at this time in her life, handling something like this chore surprised me. We decided to spend the night in the apartment.

Sunday, after Fay woke up, we went on the road to Heidi’s house.  It took us almost 1-½ hours to get there. I know that she wanted to see her friend, we actually don’t need any furniture from Heidi.  

“Momma, Heidi and I may go out and get something to drink.”  

“Did you bring money?”


“Here’s $10.”

We agreed to meet back in 3 hours.  I stayed in the car reading newspapers and resting.  Not long after, Fay came back.

“Momma, Heidi asked you to come in the house and nap on her sofa.”

“No, tell her thank you.  I am fine here.”

“Holly will be coming by later to see me.”  Friendship!!!!

It was hot today, I took off my jacket and drank a lot of water.     

On the way back, Fay has a cloudy expression on her face.

“Did you have a good time?”

“They did most of the talking.”

“Did you all go out to get something to eat?”

“No, I put the $10 for Heidi on her coffee table.”

She did it again, I was silent.  She asked me what’s wrong. I asked if she could stop giving people money.  Her explanation was that Heidi gave her so much, the least she could do is give her a little money.

What she said made sense.  I made a big fuss over $10, and she is using normal etiquette and I am treating her like a patient.  I felt so embarrassed that I actually forgot to apologize.

Fay and I stayed at the apartment.  She has her own bedroom and I have mine.  She goes to group therapy and her one-on-one session.  I go to work everyday and my husband comes in the afternoon to take over.  I would buy some lunch for Fay, goes back to see her, walk the dogs and go back to the flower shop after a couple of hours.  And when I close up at night, I go back and have dinner with her. This is all very routine and my poor husband is all by himself, like he is single.  My doctor asked me how long I am going to stay with Fay like this? “Until she finds a boyfriend?” I told him I don’t want her to be alone.

At 1:00am I went to the Flower Mart to buy flowers. I don’t want to wake Fay or Blackie, so I did not turn on the light and drove off.  However, this time I got stopped on the road by the police. He asked if I know why I was stopped. I said no. He said it’s because I did not turn on the car’s  headlights. I told him that I had to tend to my sick daughter, so that’ why I came out so late. Luckily he let me go without giving me a ticket.

This same week, I was stopped again by the police. He said that I changed lane at the last minute, that is like running a red light.  The fine is $800. All I can think about is that the money can be used for getting meds for Fay. I listened attentively and I told the police that I thought I was smart to change lane, so I can hurry home to see my husband since I’ve been taking care of my sick daughter. I am telling the truth. He was nice,  told me not to do it again and then let me off. I am thankful. When I got home, I told my husband. He said I am lucky, twice in one week stopped by the police. I broke record.

Monday after work I went to the apartment, saw Fay talking to a strange man.  She told me he is a locksmith. His price is reasonable. Good, she has shown more improvements finding someone and asked for a fair price.  The man tinkered with the front and back locks. He finished up and started towards his car. I asked Fay if I got a set of keys. She told me it is not necessary.  I immediately took off after the locksmith.

“Sir, please stop.  I need two sets of keys.”

“Your daughter said one is enough.”  He was not too friendly.  

“Can you please give me two sets?”

“Go ask your daughter.”

“Not necessary.  I am the landlord, I have to have a set.”  His attitude is more gentle now.

“I told her two sets are better.”

“You are the professional.  You should have given her two sets, never mind what she said.”

“I listen to my clients.”

“If your clients are not right, don’t listen. You do what you think is right.”

At this moment, Fay walked over.  I didn’t want her to see the mean look on my face.  

I explained to her that I need to have a set legally,  She told me not to give it to her dad. I promised her.  Then I thought to myself, how much longer can I fully trust her?

I was making dinner, when Fay came out of the bedroom.  “Thank you, momma, for making my dinner.  When I get better, I will cook for you.”  I looked at her smiling face and my heart melted. “That would be nice.”  I don’t even know why but I am saddened by her words.  I continued cooking but felt my daughter’s love.

This actually bothering me for a few days.  Why does a few words from my daughter made me think so much?  It’s normal and ok for a mother to cook for her family. Fay didn’t need to thank me, but she did and just a feel simple words….I adopted her when she was 2 years old, now I know when I get older, she will take good care of me.  

After dinner, Fay washed the dishes, then we went to walk the dog. She grabbed her set of keys and said she is glad that we have two sets.  “If I lost my set, I would have to pay again.”, she said. This is a sign of improvement that she is intuitive.

We passed by a spa.  I mentioned that I didn’t give her a birthday gift nor did we celebrate my birthday.  How about when you are ready, we come here as a celebration? She said ok.

Right before bedtime, Fay asked if I wanted to sleep in her bedroom tonight.  I told her no, because I want to give her privacy. So, instead, I said I don’t want to wake up Blackie in the middle of the night when I leave for the Flower Mart.  I offered to read a few jokes for her. She didn’t refuse, I want to soothe things out and not hurt her feelings.

It was hot tonight and I had a hard time sleeping.  When day breaks, I should be getting up but I didn’t feel like it, so I stayed in bed.  Heard Fay calling me softly. I went into her bedroom.

“Honey, what’s wrong?”

“I heard my brother’s voice.”

“Where?”  She pointed to the upstairs neighbor’s place, but her eyes were still closed, much like how she looked when she had surgery.

“Were you thinking about your brother?”


“He is out of the country.  Maybe you heard the neighbor talking, and the voice sounded like him.”  

Life is tough now that she is sick.  I hate telling her the truth, I just leave it for her imagination.

That night before bedtime, Fay laid in bed, her face beet red.  It’s like she just took a hot shower, or maybe she got a fever?  “Did you just take a shower?  How come your face is so red?” “Nothing, nothing!  I am fine.” If she said it is nothing, then I will just take her word for it.

Tuesday morning, Fay woke up and told me that she had cold sweat last night and it drenched her and woke her up.  No wonder her face was all red when I saw her before bedtime. “Honey, our traditional Chinese doctor would say that it is because your body is not strong enough, and does not have enough nutrition.  Get some rest, exercise more, and you will feel better.”

“I know I had lost a lot of weight.”

She got up and changed into some dark blue pants.  I could tell from her backside that she had lost quite a bit of weight.  Before she got sick, she was overweight, but now I think she could use at least 5 more pounds. .    

As usual, after dinner, we took the dog out for a walk.  It was kind of late. We saw a middle aged woman walking her dog also.  We chatted a little, I took her phone number, hoping that maybe one day Fay can walk Blackie with her and her dog too.  At the very least she can have make a new friend. I remember when I was sick, my friend found me someone to take walks with, and that really helped me.

After we got home, Fay took out a mat about 6 feet long with different diagrams on it.  I asked her, “Honey, what is this?” She said Holly gave it to her for exercise. So we followed the diagrams.  One of them is kneeling on the floor and bending backwards. I tried and bend as far as I can.  Fay asked me, “Do you need help?”  She thought that because I am older, and when I bent so far back that I won’t be able to come back to the original starting position.  We both laughed. When I saw her like this, caring about me and smiling, it’s like the good old days.

I remember one time I went with Fay and her friend to a mulberry farm to pick mulberries.  She kept turning back to make sure that I am ok, and reminding me to be careful of the bee stings.  She was only about 13.

And that night her face was all red and she sweated profusely too, just like the other night.  

I told Fay to drink plenty of fluids.  Her dad had also bought her a lot of sparkling water too.   Fay gave me a book to read. It is about how to take care of people that have mental illness. I asked her where she got that book from.  She said it was from the doctor. Fay knew that I like reading and gaining knowledge from this type of topic.   

John called to let me know that the boss wants Fay to go back to work on Wednesday.  From my point-of-view, I don’t think Fay can work a full day. I want Fay to decide on her own.  I told Fay about the phone call, she didn’t say anything.

Wednesday evening she told me she had gone to see the boss during the day. I made a comment that she’s very brave.   

“I got there ½ hour early before the boss came, so I set up the booth for him.”

“That’s wonderful.  The boss must be really happy that you are so quick and helped him so much.”  I am a little surprised that Fay would do that.

“The boss gave me another week to rest, I will start back to work next Wednesday.”

“A full day?”   She nodded.

“I will bring you some soup.”


Thursday, I talked to Fay.

“Honey, this apartment needs a lot of things. Let’s go do some shopping this weekend.”


She didn’t ask me what we need, may be she didn’t know.  Or did I “rob” her of her independence to think for herself?  I went into the kitchen on auto pilot, looked around to see what we need.

Sunday afternoon, I went over to the apartment after work.

“Honey, let’s go shopping now.”

“Momma, I am tired, I want to take a nap.”   She lied down and closed her eyes.

“Didn’t we agree that we are going today?”

“I am really tired, just go by yourself.”

“I don’t know what brand you like.”

“I want to sleep.”

“You really can’t get up?”  I like to keep my word.

“That meds makes me sleepy.”

“Alright, then I will go by myself.”

I went and picked up some interesting things, and also a basket for Blackie.  When I got home, Fay was still asleep. I purposely made noise so I can wake her up.  “Do you like these designs?” “I like them.”  She didn’t even ask how much they are and I don’t want to ask her for money.  

Some time had gone by and one day Fay asked,

“Momma, how are you today?”

“Not good.  I worry about you stopping your day meds.”  I feel really sad.

“The meds I took in the morning makes me tired and confused.”

“I understand, but did you talk to the doctor about the change of dosage?”

“Yes, I mentioned to him already.”

“What did he  say?”

“He said I should wait a little while, but the day meds make me tired and I can’t concentrate.”

“Well, you figure it out then.  If it doesn’t work, make sure you start taking the meds again.  Can you cut down the morning meds in half?”

“No, I will just take the night meds.  That’s enough.”

“Fine.  You take care of it yourself.  Let me know how it goes.” This is not the first time that she change her own dosage according to her needs.  She does it and then let the doctor know. Perhaps she is trying to get ready to go back to work.

On Tuesday night, Fay has on a blue top, I made a comment that the top was very unique.  

“I am going to work in this outfit.”  I am gratified that she is taking care of her appearance.  But her ex-boyfriend John’s shop is right across from hers.  Can she handle it?

“When I was at the hospital, John came to see me.  He told the nurse that he wanted to take me home, but I refused to go with him.”

“Really?”  I don’t believe this, she is delusional.

“Yes, it’s true.”

“I don’t understand, why didn’t you leave with him?”  I remembered at the time she had wanted to leave the hospital badly.

“I was mad at him because I was fine and he sent me to the hospital.”   Oh no, not this again.

“What did he say to you?
“He just said you are not yourself, what you said didn’t make sense.”

“Did he say I want to kill myself?”


“I don’t want to harm myself, nor other people.  But you put me in the hospital.”

“It’s the police, not us.  I was actually a little surprised too that the police put you there.”

“Why did you listen to John and not asked me personally?”

“I was so afraid because John never comes to us.  And when he came and told us you were ill, we were so frightened.  I had to call the Crisis Team quickly, didn’t know the police came instead.”

“Did you know at that time I was friends with Joe, John was jealous so his words came out strong.”

“How come I didn’t think of this?  How dumb!!” I really didn’t think about that and her interest in being friends with Joe.

“I see.  Then it was just John’s jealousy.”

“I had the possibility to become good friends with Joe, but since I was admitted to the hospital, I lost the opportunity.”

“That is true.  If it was me, I would not be happy either.”

“I like Joe for more than five years.”

“I think he stinks and he is dirty.”  I was playing around.

“He is very charming.”

“Did you talk to Carol about this?” No response.

“Next time share with her if you wish.” I don’t want to continue talking about this, so I changed subject.

“How about I bring you lunch tomorrow,  just like when you were little?” Again, no response.  Probably didn’t get the humor behind.

“I am tired.  Good night.”

Wednesday afternoon, my husband came to the shop.  I went to get some take-out (soup) for Fay.  I had to pass by the ocean before I can turn into the small alley where the shop is.  When I went inside the shop. Blackie greeted me by barking, Fay sat on a chair staring at me with no smile on her face.  

“Honey, how was your first day?”

“It’s ok.  But the people on the street passing by all stared at me, giving me the cold shoulder.”

“It’s difficult to handle, huh?”  She didn’t say anything.

“Maybe you can say hello first.”

At this moment, a young man passed by, looking at the glasses on display.

“Would you like to try on a pair? One pair is $20 and two pairs are $35.”  She successfully sold a pair.

“Congratulations.  Now have some soup before it gets cold.”  When I saw her ate some soup, I felt really happy.  That means she can take care of herself once again. After she finished, I decided to leave.  Happen to look up and saw John sitting across the street from us, with a poker face.

“Sorry honey, I didn’t bring any soup for John.”

“It’s fine.  He helped me opened shop this morning.”

Driving back, it was bumper-to-bumper. But it was worth it.  

I closed the shop at 6pm and went home. Made some dinner and hurried back to Fay’s apartment before she gets home.  I can hear Blackie barking as I approached the door, so I know right away that Fay is already home. We had dinner, Fay did the dishes.  We chatted a little, walked the dog, did some exercises and the day is over. I can imagine a man who has two households is almost like my life right now.

“Momma, did Patty find a house yet?”

“Not yet.”

“I want my friend Wendy to move in.”

“Are you kicking me out?”   Joking with her.

“No.  Wendy said she can only pay $300.”

“That’s too little.”

“I can help her pay $200.”  Each month? This is a big apartment.  Is she being generous, or is it because she is sick, or being kind?

“Why don’t you confirm it with her?  And I will also check in with Patty.”

Patty’s husband passed away 2 months ago, she was looking for a place to live and also a job.  I gave her a job at the shop temporarily. I didn’t want her to know about Fay and her illness, that’s why I didn’t offer her the apartment.  She is a good person, I am sure it would be fine, and she will be a good influence for Fay.)

After a few days, Fay told me that she never heard back from Wendy.   I told her then we shouldn’t wait. If she was interested, she would have gotten back to Fay by now already.

“How about Patty? Do you like her?”

“Yes, I like her. She is interesting.”  

“Let me ask her and see what she thinks.”

“I don’t mind having her as my roommate.”


When Patty comes in to work, I asked if she likes to move in with Fay. At first she was a little concerned about their age difference. Fay’s former roommate was in her 50’s, Fay likes elders, men or women. Patty asked if she can see the apartment, so I told her to meet me at 9am in the morning.

Patty really liked the newly renovated apartment.  She said she will move in on the 19th, two weeks away.  I feel that in two weeks, Fay’s illness would even improved more.  When I told Fay about the plan, she seemed happy.

Friday came, a very busy day for me. I got everything ready and asked my husband to watch the shop.  I bought soup and went to see Fay at her job. A motorcycle drove by.

“Momma, I am afraid of the motorcycle.”

“Tell me what you are afraid of.”

“Charlie used to ride a motorcycle.”  Charlie was Fay’s old boyfriend, they were together for a very short time.

“That was not Charlie.”

“Yes, it is him.”

“When there is another motorcycle passed by, let’s look more carefully.  Oh, here comes another one.”

“See, that looks like Charlie. It is him.”  I didn’t argue.

“So if that was Charlie, what will you do to protect yourself?”

“I don’t know.”  She spoke very softly.

“Think about it.”  No response.

“If you want to be friends with him again, you call out and ask.  If you don’t want to be friends anymore, just stay away from him.”

The next day, I called Fay to see if she is home.

“Fay, I am glad you are home.  I would like to come see you. What would you like me to bring?”

“Anything is fine.”

I got there in 15 minutes, Blackie came to greet me.  Fay looked frightened and tried to cover it up by saying and acting like nothing is wrong.

“Momma, I have irregular heartbeat.  I feel very uncomfortable.”

“Did you talk to the doctor?”

“She told me to take deep breaths, go take walks.”

“Did it help?”

“Just a little.”

“Is it like this all the time, or just once in awhile?”
“Once in a while.” Then she added, “but several times a day.”

“On what occasion? Is it when you are afraid?”  

She thought for a moment, but didn’t say anything.

“Is it happening now?”


“Should I take you to the hospital?”

“No, it is not necessary.  I will be fine in a little bit.”

She does look better after a little while.  

“Honey, when I was sick and living in Grandma’s house, even little sounds scared me.  If there is a bird stopping on the window sill, or if I hear the wind blowing outside, my heart will be beating really fast.  I think that’s because I was not strong enough. You keep tabs on your heartbeat, and if you don’t feel any better, we will go to the Emergency room.  I will check in with you.”

I can’t help but wonder what’s wrong?  Is she afraid of something? Is she getting sick again?

Several days later, she was still complaining about the irregularity of her heartbeat, but refused to go to the ER.  After two weeks, this issue completely disappeared. Was it because the meds were too strong? Or the side effects? Why didn’t I follow up and find out the reason? Now thinking back I felt that I was too thoughtless and I had neglected Fay.  

Wednesday rolls around, I brought soup to Fay and saw John sitting with her.

“What did John tell you that you had to go call the police?”  I looked at John and he had no response.

“He said you were not yourself.”  Again, John did not respond.

“Did he say that I am going to hurt myself?”

“No, he didn’t.”

“Then why did you call the police?”

“I only wanted the Crisis Team to come.  The police came instead because Mobile Crisis Team does not work on that day, Saturday.”

I see Fay sitting next to John looking very upset, it is best for me to leave now.  

“Bye, Fay.  I am going back to work.”

“From now on, you don’t need to bring me anymore soup.”


Is this an act of independence? Or is she upset at me? Or both?

I asked my doctor what he thoughts are about Fay.  Why does she keep thinking that she shouldn’t be in the hospital, and that we had forced her there?  He said she is seeking her own self-worth and trying to “remove” herself out of this awkward position. I don’t agree with him, but I also don’t know what the reason is.                 

Patty called me.  She wants to move into the apartment today.  I didn’t plan on her moving until the 19th and today is only the 5th.  I was going to go and have dinner with Fay and afterwards walk the dog.  But I relented, “How about you give me a couple of hours, like around 7pm, then you can move in?”  I also asked her not to move everything in yet, wait and see how she and Fay get along first. She agreed right away.

I rushed over to the apartment, whipped up some quick dinner for me and Fay.  After dinner, I told Fay that we should go walk the dog since Patty is moving in at 7pm. Fay was unwilling.

“Honey, Patty is moving in at 7 pm.  We needs to go.”

“No, I don’t want to go.”

“If Blackie sees Patty, he will be barking at her the whole time.  That would be annoying.”

“Blackie won’t bark.”  She is being uncooperative…….not a smooth process.

“I already promised Patty.  I can’t go back on my word.”

Fay, resisting and in slow motion, put the leash on Blackie.   At the same time when we were walking out the door, we ran into Patty.  She also brought an African American friend to come help her move in. Patty came over with a big smile on her face said to Fay, “Let me give my new roommate a big hug.”  

Fay and I drove to the dog park.  We usually walk Blackie for 1 to 1-½ hours but today after ½ an hour, Fay wanted to go home.  Since I am the driver, I tried to prolong the time going back. I asked Fay if she wanted me to go home or stay over.  She said she doesn’t care one way or the other. So I dropped her off, turned around and drove home. I felt a sense of relief.

After a couple of days, I got a call from Patty.  

“Jean, can I come see you after church today?”

“Can we talk on the phone now?  I am busy.”

“I need to talk to you in person.”

“I need my space, I don’t want to see anyone.”  

She kept insisting, and afterall, she is my renter, I should cooperate with her.  

“Well, I have some free time between 1-2 pm, but not too long.”

Patty came to the shop promptly.  Over 6’ tall and 100 lbs, her top body resembles a big snake curling on my counter.  She stared at me intently with her eyes, it’s like she can read my mind.

“Jean, Fay told me last night she just got out of the mental hospital…….”

I interrupted her right there.

“Fay is a grown woman.  I cannot invade her privacy.  She told you her private affairs because she trusts you.  Remember I said don’t move too many of your belongings in and see how it goes first.”

She nodded, “Yes.  Fay told me her diagnosis and I know how to take care of this type of patient.”  

Oh, perhaps she has some mental health challenges herself?  I always thought she is kind of different.

“Jean, I was in church this morning and talked to a friend.  She thought I should discuss my personal safety with you.”

“You don’t need to worry. Fay is on meds, she also sees her therapist and goes to her group weekly.  You are safe, but if you don’t think so, you can move out.”

“Should I report everything back to you?”

“No, that won’t be necessary.  Fay tells me everything. She won’t like you reporting to me”

I went home and shared my conversation with my husband.  He didn’t understand why Fay had to tell people something so personal.  I told him it’s not a big deal. We don’t lose face over it. He still insists that she shouldn’t tell people things.  I said what if Fay had surgery, can’t she tell people? Her illness is like surgery, it’s ok to tell people. I don’t even know where I got this idea from.  I don’t really want Patty to stress over this because I had stayed in the apartment with Fay before, so I know how it is. So I decided to go back there.

It is a 2-BR apartment, Fay and Patty each have their own bedroom.  My bedding is in a corner in the living room, so I can pack up each morning when I get up.  I made a simple dinner and asked Fay if we should invite Patty and she said yes. I went and asked Patty if she would like to join us. She came out, looking happy, made a playful face – to me it’s like she is saying she hasn’t eaten for several days.  We all sat down and have dinner. I felt the warmth.

Looking over at Fay, her face is swollen, expressionless.  She used to be very hospitable when there were guests around.  But tonight she just sit and ate in silence. When she finished, she got up and left the table.  I did the dishes, Patty cleaned the floor, and the stove. I thought if Patty stays here longer, I wouldn’t have to worry about the cleanliness of this apartment.

Patty and I sat down and chat afterwards.  She has a male friend in his 20’s, wife and kids are still in Africa.

“Why aren’t they together?”



“He and his wife have nothing in common.  He is going to bring the kids here when he is more settled.”

“What kind of job is he skilled in?”

“He is looking for a full time job and is willing to take any kind of job.  n brought out some small fruits and put them all on the table.  

Before bedtime,

“Momma, I don’t like that man.”


“I don’t like the way he looks at me.”

“How did he look at you?”

“He made me uncomfortable.”

“Just wait and see how it goes. You can be friends.  Patty has the right to invite her friend over, as long as it is not everyday.”

This young man doesn’t have a job, so he is over at the apartment almost daily. Tonight Patty asked if he can stay a little longer.  I told her that it is almost 9pm, I need to go to bed because at midnight I have to go to the Flower Mart. I told her to tell him to be quiet.  She said ok. I am not even sure if I should change into my PJs, it is kind of awkward to have a man around and me in my PJs.

The next day I went to the apartment after work to get some rest.  It was almost 8pm and I wanted to make dinner because Fay comes home at 8:30pm.  Patty came over, and revealed that Fay and her friend read poems in the afternoon. I asked her who wrote them.  Patty said both of them. I was happy to hear that, more improvement on Fay’s part.

After dinner,

“Honey, did you read poems today?”

“Patty’s friend did, and he also showed me some of his artwork.”

“Do you like him a little more now?”

“No.  I don’t like him.  Tell him not to come.”

“Well, we will tell him he can only come during the day and has to leave early.  How about that?”

“Ok, that’s fine.”

I explained to Patty that Fay just got discharged not too long ago, she is still fearful of things/people, and if she can ask her friend to only come during the day and not at night.  She agreed immediately. When I told Fay, she said, “Did I do the right thing?” I told her yes, she needs to protect herself.

Every time I go over to the apartment, I could see his bike close by.  Friday night I went there to prepare dinner for Fay. As soon as I walked in the apartment, he’s there!!  I said, “Fay should be home soon.” As I was talking, I heard Fay opening the door. Patty rushed her friend into her bedroom and told him to stay there. He obeyed and went inside.  They acted like a mom and her three year old kid. It’s almost like turning the clock, reversing back to their younger days and they were playing a game. .

One night Fay was late coming home.  I had been sitting around reading the newspaper and some books she had given me.  I wasn’t too worried because I know she’s with Blackie.

After a little while, I heard the front door and the dog barking.  

“Momma, I am home.  “I went to walk the dog.”

“Did you run into anyone you know?”
“Ran into Peter.  He was walking with a bunch of people, and invited me to walk with them.”

“That’s very cordial of Peter.”

“I don’t really want to socialize with any of my friends.”

“The book you gave me said that this is the second kind of mental health challenges.  It is very common, but it has some negative effects. Be brave and get through it.” She stayed silent.

“It’s like some time ago Holly called you, you could have picked up the phone and call her first. Try to call her today or tomorrow.  Hearing your voice will make her happy and knowing that you are the one that initiates your friendship first. This is give and take, a normal exchange between people.”

“Are you hungry?”

“No, I am not.”  She looks angry now.

“What’s wrong?”  At this moment I can hear the kettle whistling in the kitchen, so I walked away.  Fay followed me.

“Why did you send me to the hospital?”  Here we go again!!  She looks like she’s going to explode.  I got really fearful since Patty is in the house, and probably doing her yoga.  

I suggested going outside and she followed.  We went inside her car. She started crying like she had been wronged, “I could have been able to start a relationship with Joe, but since I was in the hospital, everything’s ruined.”  At this point, all I can do is comfort her and not start a fight. I said to her gently, “Honey, should we go get Blackie out?  Will he be looking for you?” Fay calmed down a bit and said it is ok for Blackie to stay inside the house.  

I apologized to her saying that if it was me I would be very upset too.  It’s like my fate is being controlled. She cried some more, then stopped. I told her next time, I will ask her first before any decision is made, but I hope it won’t happen again.  I am not sure if it was my mannerism or my words, this “storm blew over.” I felt that it was my love for my daughter that made it through.

Fay has a Latino friend named Mike.  They have a good relationship like brother-sister.  

One night Fay and I had a conversation:

“Momma, Mike said I should move to San Francisco, and leave this sad place.”

“Honey, momma is getting too old and have no energy to help you move.”  I said impatiently. How many times have we done this moving bit?

“I can do it myself.”

“This is not about where you are moving to, this is your inside struggle whether you feel safe or not safe.”  I thought I should just speak the truth.  

Fay didn’t like that, turn around and started to leave.  I can see the sadness in her eyes, it made me feel guilty.

“How about if we wait till there is an availability, then you can move.  Just be patient for a little while?”

She turned around and smiled.

When I talked to my doctor, he asked me why Fay smiled.  I said, “Because her momma accepted her request so she smiled.”  She is like a little kid. My lovely daughter, what should I do with you?

When I went to sleep tonight, I noticed there there is an extra layer of bedding on my “makeshift bed”.  Fay must have put it there for me. My first thought was she’s getting even better than before. However, the next day, Patty informed me that she thought one layer of bedding is too thin, that’s why she put another layer on for me.  I felt warmth in my heart, that there is someone out in the world that cares about me.

I gave Mike a call,

“Mike, don’t be giving Fay an ideas.  She already has support from a therapist and her doctor.  They will give her advice.”


“Fay likes to walk the dog, you can go with her.  If she wants to cook, you can stay and help her.”

“She always talks about impractical stuff.”

“Just listen to her, don’t argue.”

Later on, I heard from my husband that Mike didn’t like his roommate, so he wants Fay to move in and be his roommate.

A few weeks later,

“Honey, I am going to visit my brother.  Do you want to come with me?”

“Sure, but I just want to wait in the car.”

“That’s alright.”  

It only takes 45 minutes to get there.  When we arrived, Fay said she wanted to go in also.

And when she got in, she was laughing and talking with everyone, definitely a big improvement.

When we got home, Fay said she would like to rent out a corner of the living room to Lily.  I joked, “That’s the corner I sleep every night. You want to get rid of me?” I asked how much she wants to charge Lily.  Fay replied, “$300.” “That’s a good idea.” She said Lily and her mom do not get along because she noses into Lily’s business.  Then, Fay said Jenna is also looking for a place. I reminded her to think carefully and decide whom she wants to live with, and she should also check in with Patty too.  After all, life is about negotiations and making decisions.

Two weeks later, Jenna moved in and I moved home.  Fay asked if it is ok if we get a partition so Jenna can have some privacy. I told her not a problem.  

Fay is on the right track now.  My husband and I took a short vacation.