What I was waiting for, and dreading, and avoiding, and otherwise side-stepping.
The confrontation with my mother.
She started it. She wanted to know if she had said or done anything to offend me, since of late I have seemed to be avoiding her.
She got that right. All of it.
The only reason I am camping out in my father’s former studio, complete with no facilities, is that I gave up my gorgeous, wonderful life in Jerusalem to come and be with Dad in his last years. I am immensely happy that I did that. It gave a richness to Dad’s and my already very deep relationship that left a delicious taste when he departed, enhanced by the salt of my tears.
So, he having gone to his Place, I no longer have a reason to be here. I am making plans to leave, and soon.
And when my mother asked a second time if I was avoiding her for some reason, the answer was “yes,” but of course I said “no,” because I knew what sort of scene would follow if I said “yes.” So I said, “of course not,” while avoiding the laser gaze.
“How about a cup of tea?” She asked. I obliged, and she made tea. We sat down, and I wondered what in the world we were going to talk about.
“Well, are you still planning to…go galavanting around?” She smirked.
“Are you talking about the RV?” I am in the process of buying a small motorhome and living in it for who knows how long. I have been a virtual gypsy all of my life, so I’d like to see what happens if I do it on purpose, with intention.
“If you’re talking about the RV, it’s in its final stages of the purchase.”
We chatted about the whole RV thing, and I allowed as how I would be back through here every 3 months or so, to check on her and see how things are going. I didn’t tell her that the truth is, she’s showing signs of dementia, and I want to keep my finger on that pulse.
Oh, no, that isn’t necessary, to come all the way across the country to check on her. She’ll be just fine, she says.
“Yes,” I said, “And I’ve also got a son…” Didn’t get to finish that sentence.
“Oh, and where was he last week? I thought he was supposed to come here for the weekend.” My parents have always had this thing about my son, that he never took it upon himself to call or visit them. They took it very personally. God knows, if I took it personally that he never calls me either, I’d drive myself crazy. That’s simply who is is: he’s an Aspie like his mom and dad, and if I want to talk to him I give him a buzz; he may or may not answer depending on what’s happening at the time.
“He’s at his father’s family reunion.”
“Oh yes, his father always made sure that he went to HIS family reunions.” Not that WE ever had a family reunion. No, I’m wrong. Last year they had one, the family of my mother’s generation, but the children and grandchildren, all of whom are adults, were not invited. By that I mean, they were explicitly told they were unwelcome. Me too, and I thought it was a shame, but I don’t like to go places where I am not welcome, so I let that go. BUT her side HAD had a family reunion, and none of us cousins and grandchildren were welcome. So what’s to argue about?
Then came a volley of accusations on my part regarding whether my parents had bothered building a relationship with him, and of course she said they did, but I know for a fact not much. Perhaps she forgot how he came on birthdays, holidays, art show openings, and every other important happening on my side of the family.
Plus, I reminded her, he has a lot of cousins on his father’s side, and they are such a large family that having reunions is part of their tradition.
“Yes, of course HIS FATHER makes sure he has a good relationship with his family.” Meaning, clearly, that it was MY fault that my son did not have a close relationship with THEM.
Then she started in on him in general, how he’s just inconsiderate, selfish, etc. etc.
That’s when I lost it.
I unloaded on her with both barrels, so to speak. How she had no right to insult my son. How the reason he doesn’t come around is because she belittles me right in front of him, and he won’t see his mother abused.
“Stop screaming,” she said, using her smooth persuasive courtroom voice (she is a guardian ad litem, which in her case means she specializes in taking children away from their parents).
By that time I was in a state I have never been in before. Part of the gall that I have carried around with me for 61 years came pouring out. I thought I was going to vomit.
“I am not screaming! Every time I open my mouth you attack me with your sarcasm, your mocking, your belittling–you want to know why I avoid you, that’s why!” My head felt like it was about to blow up. My brains would spatter all over the spotlessly clean furniture. Ever since my dad died she’s been compulsively cleaning the house, trying to rid it of his former presence.
“You stop your fucking screaming!” She screamed, casting a furtive glance upward, worried that the three carpenters who were in the act of replacing the roof had heard. I don’t know how the could not have.
“That’s it! I’m done! Good-bye!” And I picked up my walking sticks, my dog behind me, and stomped though the gravel back yard, spewing obscenities that I’m sure the carpenters heard.
I made my way down the path to the studio, watching out for the knees of rhododendron roots that stick up out of the path, waiting to trip the novice or the careless. I got “home,”–every time we move I tell my dog, “This is Home now,” so she will know to go “home,” if we get separated for any reason. I guess this is more “home” than any of them, because it is my dad’s and he gave it to me.
I wonder if she’ll think of the motorhome as a home that has changes of scenery fairly regularly. I guess that’s how it’s been for her anyway, except that she will get all territorial about this new home on wheels.
I grabbed half a joint and a little bit of wine, and sat out on the deck with my dog and watched the river for a while.