My mother has never been sentimental. We moved like gypsies when I was a kid, and took very little with us when we did. There are few mementos from my childhood, which suits me fine as there are few things I wish to remember from childhood.
My parents’ habit of moving with nothing but a car-load taught me to keep what was important close at hand. I had a cigar box of treasures that I kept under my bed, and I carried it in my lap every time we moved. There was a necklace that my aunt passed down to me, a glass mushroom that a stranger gave me, and dozens of other items important only to my child’s heart. When I ran away from home at 15, I stupidly left it behind, favoring a backpack full of clothes instead.
I never moved back home, and never found out what happened to my heart’s treasures. Since moving into my mother’s home to care for her, I’ve idly hoped to come across my box tucked away somewhere. I haven’t.
Living with my mother again has reopened scars long ago cauterized by space and time. If this were an Oprah Book of the Month story, I would use this opportunity to work through unresolved injuries, finding peace with my mother and then appreciating the time we have together as I care for her. We’d plant a perennial garden and share tea on the porch, holding hands.
But this is real life. Real life isn’t so pretty. Instead I daydream of burying my mother in the bare patch where I torched a growth of poison ivy. I spend my days resenting that I am caring for a woman who rarely cared for me. And the fact that her head injury changed her quite profoundly doesn’t make it easier, it makes it far harder for me. I resent that she is helpless and childlike now. It makes my hatred seem so misdirected.
The few items my mom did keep from my childhood are tucked around her house like bombs. Every drawer, closet and box has the potential to explode in my face. A photo, a letter, a scrap of paper- even mom’s paintings from that time period make my skin crawl. I’m living in a Quay Brothers diorama of a nightmare as photographed by Diane Arbus. Or something.
As a child, I didn’t fear the monster in the closet. I knew better that monsters walk around in broad daylight. How ironic that as a grown woman, I’m dreading them now.
Real life woman. Virtual World avatar. Likes top shelf vodka, dominant men, blues, sunsets and playing darts. Dislikes insecurity, rap, small children and clowns. I'm either behind the bar or under it.