new york city kid in arkansas
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I just finished playing the role of a mother described as “manic with grief” in TheatreSquared’s production of Sarah Delappe’s play THE WOLVES. Playing “Soccer Mom” was a strange and wonderful gift, and working at my favorite theatre with my favorite director in my favorite town certainly made these last seven weeks filled with gratitude (and exhaustion). March was the month of many special visitors – Jeni from Illinois, Shannon from Austin, Dusty from California and Natalie from New York – all while I worked on a super-size production of “Seussical” at The New School with my co-teacher extraordinaire Sam. The result of this crazy schedule was some of the most satisfying nights of sleep I’ve ever had, and once while driving home from a full day of work followed by a mid-week show I found myself thinking, “Oh, good. I get to do that thing where I shut my eyes in bed.”

Playing a mom is easy since I am one and have one. Playing grief is easy these days, too.

My mom was diagnosed with dementia last fall, right after her brother (my Uncle Ronnie) died unexpectedly. This weekend my sisters and I will join together in our hometown to help my dad move her into an assisted living facility and this new chapter in their lives, which has arrived much more rapidly than anyone expected. My sisters took the brunt of the hard work beginning in mid-February while I stayed here rehearsing, performing and waiting on text updates and phone calls, and I’m so thankful I’m not an only child. (Sorry, Huck.)

Last night I talked to my mom on the phone about my upcoming visit and her new home, and toward the end she began calling me Shannon. In her confusion, she mistook me for my best friend, someone we’ve both known and loved for many years, someone who has been down this road before with her own mother. It was such a strange and beautiful thing that I put my free hand over my open mouth as if  in a state of shock as I listened to her from hundreds of miles away.

By the time we said goodbye I was Janelle again.

(Update: The move was canceled and my mom is doing well living at home.)

Wesley Hitt, Photographer

5 comments

Pappy T

March 27th, 2019

LOVE.

Cheri

March 27th, 2019

Oh, Jonny. Thinking of you with love love love. Hoping “manic with grief” is just a temporary role. Prayers going out for your dad- xoxxo

Shauntsies

March 27th, 2019

Ohhhh, Jonny. Sending much ??

Shauntsies

March 27th, 2019

Well, those question marks were a heart. I forgot hearts don’t translate here!! To be clear, I’m not sending many questions. I’m sending much LOVE!!!!

Aunt Jeni

March 27th, 2019

Watching you play soccer mom was one of my highs of the month even though I was sobbing next to my nephew. XOXO

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