I haven’t been feeling too clever recently, partly due to the cold, partly the lack of sunlight, partly poverty and partly due to circumstances that I have no control over. Some days recently, I feel like I deserve a medal for getting to the end of and I suspect this may be another one of them.
On top of trying to constantly take my career forward and dealing with severe disability I have another thing to deal with, the perennial straw that is snapping my spine. My mother’s telephone calls. I had another one just now and it was just too much to bear. I had to run up the stairs to get it (more of that later) and when I answered she launched straight into a diatribe about her ears, about how she could not get a doctor’s appointment to check them and she wouldn’t be allowed to drive again until she gets her latest bout of vertigo sign off as cleared up… She is 88, my mum, she crashed into a concrete bollard a few months back, just drove straight into it, before that she rear ended a van. This has gone on for years now, as has the idiocy of owning a four bedroom detached house that has sat empty for three years now whilst she has shacked up with my hoarder of a sister, an insult to homeless people everywhere. This morning I had nothing left, not an ounce of reserve to deal with this constant drip of humourless, self unaware, misery being pour down my ear. I couldn’t stand it any more, not today, and so I asked her ever so nicely to stop, and slam! Down went the phone again, to be followed no doubt by days of passive / aggressive silent treatment.
That knee jerk action in my mum, it’s been there her entire life, the filthy temper, face going from scarlet to incandescent white as she would burn with fury with little to no provocation, my brother got that personality trait fortunately not I, although I do wonder sometimes if I have I tiny piece of it somewhere… hiding. I got the depression and the stubbornness, the latter part saving me and part causing myself and others an awful lot of bother.
There is a moment in most people’s lives when it dawns on them that their parents are not the infallible being’s they have to look up to and are all too human. It mostly comes along when we or our friends have children our/themselves. When the full extent of the idiocy of the prospective parent is known but for me it was when I was about ten, when the first bailiffs came knocking at the door. I watched for years as one nonsensical decision after another caused more and more chaos, I knew what was going on far too young and was obliged to stay far too long and deal with the consequences of bad decision after bad decision, over and over again. People can only really save / fix themselves, but first they have to want to do it and, more to the point, know they need to do it. My parents messed everything up, the three children, the psychopath they pretended wasn’t a psychopath, the one with learning difficulties they pretended didn’t have learning difficulties and then there was me. Dragged from pillar to post, told I as stupid and shit constantly (but she never laid a hand on me so that was ok), the slave, the unpaid carer, the cash cow.
My parents both buried their heads in the sand, about debts, about children, about homes, never learning, never being honest. Now years later it still goes on, the physical distance being the only thing that keeps me safe(ish) all that’s left is the phone calls. The news about her “rear end” during breakfast, the eleven missed calls in a row when I go out, the looping banal questions asked by a failing mind, the repeated calling when she knows that I have visitors. The almost sixth sense about when I’m cooking, eating dinner, in the bathroom, up a ladder, mid painting and… Always during sex. The latter is regrettably not a problem right now but it never ever stopped. Even when I was in hospital, wired up to machines and if I didn’t answer, the switchboard of the coronary care unit would get it, as would my friends. Nothing in this world is more important that my mum, never has been, never will.
The thing is though, I know that one day, it will be the last call. The last time I hear that constant barrage of woe and petty spite, so I keep on answering the calls, I keep listening to the dirge of banality because if I don’t, I know that I won’t be able to live with myself. It’s a sad business but one I have to live with.