About My Mother

Entry by: jaguar

17th March 2015
Taking it Back

I tell myself she means well.

She isn't some idiot, past knowing things or keeping up. Other people think and feel as she does. She lists them all, slowly, dragging their names out of her memory's deep canyon.

So it must be me who’s odd. I'm certainly stuck on high alert, teetering on the edge of a snapping crisis. Hysterical as if I’m the one who has dementia.

Now she’s here with me she can be unselfish with her time. If things get a bit mucky, well, she can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.

Without smearing yolk all over the parquet floor. I find bits of shell in the washing machine for weeks afterwards. Albumen is splattered across my black marble worktop, wobbling at her voice.

Still it’s all right now, isn’t it? She’s saved the day making dinner.

Omelette, fork mashed potato and boiled cabbage which still haunts my nostrils. My kids ate crisps and Jaffa Cakes in their rooms. My barricades against her are being dismantled day by day. My home’s a pile of knitting needle sticks now, an unraveled nest.

Such a fussbudget. What matters is a good boil wash once a week not all this spraying with expensive chemicals.

I clean the toilet seat every time she uses it. I don't want her old flesh contaminating my children's. She boil washes everything, including the vegetables, in over-spilling saucepans. My beautiful copper blackened by her abuse.

So faddy about things, when it's people who matter.

'Respect', I say and we look at each other a little too long. I am silenced by the gulf between our understanding of the word. Overwhelmed by the raw conflict in our needs.

No harm in her making a little sunshine in the centre of everyone’s world while she’s still here.

Still here. It’s me being edged out into the shadow of madness, not competent to run my own life.

She knows what’s what. She knows my needs better than me, sees me more clearly than I do. My hard-pulled splinters of insight easily flattened by her great thick, certain planks.

I’m being silly when I say she’s never known the real me. Apparently I found myself years after she knew who I was. She knew me first, before I was born.

She says family is the cement that holds us in our proper places. It's the best back-up plan.

Family is being half-buried in quicksand, struggle and you'll go under. We are both waiting to be rescued but no-one comes.

She knows I mean well.