It’s Friday. There are things to smile about. Heading for John’s in a few hours. It’s going to rain again this weekend. I got Chrossed (and congrats to everyone else who made the grade this week). And I’m getting a nice tax refund. It’s enough to cover my annual car insurance premium, with enough leftover for… more bills. (sigh)
But I am ill at ease today, edgy and uncomfortable. It’s one of those times where I need to write it out and come clean. Today is a “Life” entry.
I have not spoken to or seen my mother in over a year. The last time we talked on the phone, she didn’t know who I was until I reminded her, and then she asked me how my brother was. It was around the same time that John was so ill, and I realized I just couldn’t handle it. Something had to give; I didn’t have enough in me to worry about both John and my mother. So I chose John, who is very much present and alive. My mother may be alive in body, but the person I knew is long gone.
For a while, I kept in touch with my stepfather. Talking with him was heartbreaking. When you’re as old as he is, most of your friends are long gone. His mind is still as sharp as ever, but his body no longer cooperates. He can no longer golf or fish, two of his passions. He has emphysema and arthritis. I do believe he sticks around purely because my mother needs him to. When I would ask him how he is, he’d answer, “Well, I’m still alive, unfortunately.”
Eventually, I stopped calling. He didn’t call me, either. I thought about him and my mother every day, but time passed. And passed. I felt bad. But the thought of talking to him, or visiting him, brought on depression and anxiety.
But this week was his birthday, and I couldn’t ignore that. So I sent him a card, and I wrote a message inside, saying that John and I would love to visit him this weekend and take him to dinner. I’d hoped that would re-establish some communication and I could go from there.
I came home from the gym to a voicemail from him. It was brief and curt. “Thanks for the card. I’m busy this Saturday, so I can’t make it. Say hi to John, and take care. Goodbye.” He didn’t suggest rescheduling for another time.
He hates me, I guess. I don’t blame him. Of course he sees me as a defector, uncaring. Self-involved. Abandoning him and my mother without a second thought.
John knows that isn’t true, bless his heart. He said, “M doesn’t understand. He can’t. He’s stuck in a miserable life, he feels lousy physically and emotionally. He doesn’t know what you go through when you see your mother, how terrified you are, how it freaks you out for days. And maybe you could be a little kinder to her now, but it’s damn hard, when she was so unkind to you for so many years.”
I know it’s not right, but I can’t help it. I AM terrified of my mother, and repulsed too. I see my future in her and it scares me half to death. I don’t want to end up like her, or like him. Polar opposites — her with all her vital organs working well but her mind shot, and him with an intact mind and a failing body, but both dragging on and on. This is no way to come to the end of a life. This fucking SUCKS.
So I run and hide, because in this area, I am a coward. And because I have so many conflicted feelings about my mother, and it’s too damn much for me.
M doesn’t see that. He just sees that I’ve disappeared. Ironically, I’ve done the thing I most hate having done to me. When I’m in flippant mode, I say, “Well, my mother made sure to let me know, in so many ways over the years, what a disappointment I was to her. I’m just fulfilling that role.” But I know what BS that is.
I know what I need to do; I need to call him. Push for making another dinner date, and follow through. Talk to him in person. And while I’m at it, visit my mother for one last time and say a proper goodbye. Tell her I’m sorry I wasn’t what she’d hoped I’d be. And that I forgive her for the legacy of criticism and feelings of inferiority. She couldn’t help it. She didn’t like herself, either.
Perhaps when I’m with John tomorrow, with his help I’ll work up the courage to make that phone call. Of course, I’ll be hoping that I get voicemail.
It’s amazing how the simplest of tasks can seem so overwhelming when your mindset is off. How the time comes to act, and you think, “Ughhhh… I’ll do it tomorrow.” And before you know it, several tomorrows have elapsed.
But hopefully tomorrow will be the last tomorrow where I say “I’ll do it tomorrow.” And if you could follow that, congratulations.
Thanks for listening. Have a great weekend, y’all.