Here I am, knee deep in a dumpster in my mother’s back driveway. Surrounded by a mixed debris of leaves, old newspapers and coffee grounds , I am wearing dishwashing gloves while searching for things my mother mistakenly tossed out. Due to her advanced glaucoma, she somehow mixed in her recent bills, theatre tickets and calendar with the trash. As I pick through the mess like a tabloid reporter searching for evidence of a celebrity scandal, I find the pile of treasure I’m looking for.
Before that little incident, the house almost caught fire. This time my 88 year old mother had been warming a donut in a paper bag in her 70 year old oven setting it on broil. Flames were shooting out from the sides of the stove while black smoke spread through the house. I dialed 911 and apologized to the two fully manned firetrucks that showed up that it was only a burning donut.
The firefighters pulled the pulverized mess from the oven and put out the fire. My mother was floating on her raft in the pool during the commotion. She looked like an aging actress waiting for her cue. “What’s all the fuss about?” She said with an innocent smile.
So this is my life now. At the age of 59, I’m living in the home I grew up in, taking care of my elderly mother.
And to think I used to be a somebody! Well, at least in Boston I’d get recognized for my work as an entertainment reporter at a local TV station. My career spanned 27 years in that lovely city by the Charles River. I’d interview movie stars like Julia Roberts and Denzel Washington. George Clooney would give me a big hug every time I walked in to chat with him about his latest film. Life was exciting and fun. I was on the red carpet at the Oscars and the Emmys. I was SARA EDWARDS, TELEVISION STAR.
But three years ago when I hit my mid fifties, I discovered that I was past my television “shelf life.” I was still single, after a long series of failed relationships that always caved in because my priority was career. I was also fed up with the snow and isolation that winter can bring . So I packed up my furniture and two cats, and moved back to sunny California to live with Mom and re-invent myself.
Life changed in an instant. It seemed that my mother was waiting for me to come home before she gave up running her own life.
Instead of producing stories about Brangelina and Britney, I produce Jeane Edwards now. That entails paying her bills, and driving her to bridge games, and helping her put on her hair pieces and make up. Gone are my trendy television outfits. My uniform is jeans and T shirts with my hair in a pony tail. I heard Mom tell one of her church friends “Sara really doesn’t care how she looks anymore now that she’s not on TV.”
There may be some truth to that. For almost three decades of my life I had to look camera ready. I would arrange a week’s worth of outfits so there were no repeats. I spent hours at the hairdresser, MAC makeup counter, and the gym. I got Botox and had my eyes “lifted” at age 49.
Free of all that now, I feel more relaxed and less “on.” I am just plain old Sara and pretty happy with that. I am also deepening my relationship with a mother who was always feisty and frustrating. In many ways, I’m the mother now. Our days together are limited. We both know that. I tell friends it is my sacred task to care for her. I say that on the days I don’t want to murder her.
And something else miraculous evolved at the age of 59. After decades of Mr. Wrongs, I met Mr. Right. The unlikely matchmaker was the caregiver for my Mom’s 93 year old friend Gloria. In her Guatamalan accent Herenia was adamant. “Sara, I clean house for a man who would be perfect for you!”
Though doubtful, I agreed to meet Christopher for drinks at a little Italian restaurant in Pasadena. That first date has turned into the healthiest and most loving relationship of my life. I finally have the time to invest in someone. Someone who prefers me WITHOUT make up.
Television fame gave way to real life. I’m thankful for my time in the limelight. It’s why I can afford to be semi-retired now. But life is richer. I’m not chasing after Cameron Diaz to ask her what designer she’s wearing. I’m taking my nearly blind mother to Macy’s to buy the purple shoes she wants. Then Christopher will meet us for lunch. Life is good.