copyright 2017 Chris Smith All rights reserved.
"I never realized the price of me having a life would be the cost of yours."
My Parents did everything they could together. They had worked together, most of their marriage, which is no easy feat. I only knew a handful of couples that could handle the stress of working together. If you could live together, that was one thing. Working together added entirely different layers of stress. Plus you had to have the ability to navigate through it all, and still love each other.
Dad was involved with a lot of veterans groups and he'd always bring Mom with him. They loved being together. It was how we'd been brought up. Family was supposed to be together, live and work together if possible.
The veteran wives loved her. After all, what wasn't there to love. Mom would shoot the shit and hang with the crasty old veterans, like it was home week.
If Mom liked the guys?
Can you guess?
Yep. There'd be poking involved too.
One time Mom was paired with an old U.S. Marine from New York, to work at a table handing out U.S. Veteran of Foreign Wars (VFW) "Buddy Poppies" on Veteran's Day. Dad had been busy that day with other projects so he sent Mom in his place. She loved being involved in things and interacting with the public.
The poor tired old testy Marine had no idea what was in store for him. He and Mom spent the whole day working the table together. Mom, being Mom, was laughing and joking around with him and everyone else she came in contact with that day. So she started poking him and would not stop the entire fucking day. Classic!
When the event was over Dad arrived to pick Mom up, he got a little report from the Marine.
"I don't let anyone poke me. Ever," the Marine said.
"I totally understand. But it's just the way she is if she likes you," Dad said.
Dad said the Marine was pretty pissed off about the whole ordeal. Dad sympathized with him. But was equally glad that he wasn't the one getting poked by her.
I laughed my ass off when Dad had told the story to me. I could just picture what a scene that had been, and Mom totally clueless that she was pissing people off. Typical.
Dad had been trying to stop Mom from poking for years. But it never worked. Of course the fact that he wrestled with her on the bed a lot, didn't help. He'd taught her how to play rough, and she'd grown to like it. Mom didn't know how to play without being sensitive to the other person. So it wasn't much help to anyone who got signed up for playtime, either knowingly or unknowingly.
I would fucking miss the poking, as tears streamed down my face in memory of all the times I'd scolded her for trying to play with me. She had finally succumbed that I wouldn't play with her and stopped trying with me. She gave up trying. We gave up trying a lot of things between us.
She always seemed to weave her passive aggressiveness into the play which didn't help our relationship. I never understood all the unsaid emotions swirling around her. She wasn't a big communicator because she was brought up in a family who didn't communicate. Her Dad could be a real son-of-a-bitch. Based on how he treated people in private, the man had a tremendous amount of issues. So that's the example that was set for his daughter, be a prick like your Dad and pretend there aren't any emotions there until they leak out of you in your interactions with others.
Mom would get upset, and you could see she was upset.
But she wouldn't talk about it. You couldn't pull the words out of her with a Mack truck if you tried. It was beyond frustrating dealing with her when she was emotional. She'd sit there, simmering like a fucking volcano and would refuse to give a voice to it. The rare occasions that she did, all this putrid shit came out of her and you're standing there thinking, "WTF is this?!"
She had decades worth of unvoiced and unresolved issues that went all the way back to her childhood. After a while, I started to give up on trying to have a relationship with her. I was tired of dealing with her. I was overwhelmed by the emotional baggage and dead carcasses she carried around and kept throwing at my feet. I didn't know what to do with them or her. I didn't know how to help her and she didn't want to be helped.
Everything was fucked. It was the first glimpse of hindsight. The truth of it was a real bitch. Someone might as well have slapped my heart with an open palm just to make sure I was awake for the blowback.
My Brother flew into town and rented a car at the airport. He arrived at our house about 10 p.m. Dad and I were still awake but Mom was fast asleep. She was sleeping a lot more now, and staring off into space. I couldn't tell if she recognized our presence around her or not.
I missed having her communicate with us. This whole thing was so fucked up. My heart was having a hard time processing everything that was coming through my brain. It hurt twenty leagues straight down to the bottom.
How had she slipped through the defenses without a fight?
How had everything changed in the blink of an eye?
My Brother looked tired. We were all tired. Dad gave him a big hug in the kitchen. The emotions were swirling around the air.
My Brother walked into the living room and leaned down to Mom's bed.
"Hi Mom," he said.
He stroked her hair and looked into her eyes while she watched him.
"Guess who that is? It's your son, Sweetheart," Dad said.
The first born had arrived. The son. The first generation of their love. The child she produced to do her duty as a woman and as a wife. The one who taught Mom how to be a mom. The one she made more mistakes with as she tried to get her footing in her new role. The first grandchild of my Mom's parents. The one that ripped her to shreds to come into the world.
I couldn't watch it. I stood in the kitchen bawling my eyes out...again.
Dad and I had set up a make shift bed for him in the wardrobe/extra stuff room. We had sort of prepped the room a little before. Mom's hoarding filled the room. Well, the hoarding filled almost every room in the house, with something, or a few things extra. Most of the stuff we didn't fucking need. But try telling that to a hoarder.
I think her hoarding was to make up for all the things that had left a void within her, the love she never received from her family she grew up with, belongings she had to leave behind, the Family Farm that was foreclosed on, the debt, the friends who had turned their back, the people who came after her with judgment, all the failed businesses and Dreams.
We always had to shove around all the shit in the room every time my Brother came to visit. He wasn't happy about not having his own room and a door he could shut the world of us on. I didn't blame it. It was a small place. This little shanty shack of ours.
We got him settled in and everyone got ready for bed. It was late.
I was exhausted from the weight of reality that had shifted upon my shoulders. My eyes were bloodshot and my skin was raw from all tears. Salt and skin do not mix well. No sir.
With every slip of her from this plane of existence I was bleeding out...from my sweet desolate soul.
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