I am the kinda girl who always wanted to leave home. My father lived a plane ride away so every month I would fly UM to Victoria to see him. All the stewardesses knew my name, saved me extra peanuts and let me sit behind the counter and rip tickets. When I would get bored I would roll around in the adult-sized wheel chair pretending I was a mentally handicapped orphan. I traveled at a very young age, I was comfortable in the sky, my mother would pack me treats for the plane to pass the time, tiny plastic dolls with tiny plastic dresses, books to connect-the-dots in and my favorite, the hair-clip with a shock of pink hair coming out of it so it looked like I had pink hair when I wore it. I would still wear that hair-clip in a heartbeat.
This early on jet-setting lifestyle made me feel like I was destined for something greater my whole life. I felt like I was living with a town full of poor dumb brunettes who sun-in-ed their hair blond. When oil prices drove flights up and I found myself traveling back and forth by bus I could not relate to the people with problems like
“my boyfriend has been clean 4 years, we have a baby boy, it’s really hard, I got him clean and his sisters were giving me grief because, oooo dill pickle, how do you think they came up with that flavor, anyway, my boyfriend, well I’m just about to go meet him, he does not look old, he says he’s old, but he just turned 24 sorry, hon…Well I jogged a lot when I was pregnant and they never told me not to and then my son was born dead and I was like did I do anything wrong and the doctor was like no but then he wasn’t dead cause that happens sometimes, so I didn’t feel ready to keep him cause I was like 16 when I had him so he went to foster parents but I made that choice for him, cause I wasn’t ready, but I was just over there today and I taught him to walk and my foster mom was like wow, he loves you, I couldn’t do that with him, so like I got him to walk. It was awesome. Ya sure you can have some. Just don’t take the red. I love the reds. I save them. I’m not ready to give that all up yet.”
I still love to travel, I do it every year, no matter what and I will continue to do that until I cannot for some horrible reason like motherhood and then I will get resentful and depressed very quickly. I like being on the road. I like looking out the windows and feeling quiet and romantic. I always bring a blanket and a pillow. I get cozy.
But it was so hard leaving my mom today. I didn’t want to leave her. I wanted to stay with her and she said “you are just going to have to leave tomorrow and it will be hard then too.” But that is not the point, I just didn’t want to leave her at all. I wanted to be near her always. It’s really fucking weird, this is a woman I have been trying to escape all my life, I have hit her. I have screamed “I hate you mom!” at the top of my lungs. I have thrown a party at our house when she was in the city having her chemotherapy treatments. I moved out. I hated being around her my whole life really. She made me need ativan and smokes. She made me see red and feel burning hot firey angry hellfire inside my soul. I traveled the world for years and considered relocating to Australia with a man to have babies just to be farther away.
And now all I want to do is be home. Eating soup with my mama on the porch. Drinking black tea and milk while watching Oprah re-runs (can you believe it’s over?) I still don’t really like gardening but I try to help out, I cook high protein food and freeze it for her. I want to spend every minute I can with her. I feel this clock in the background TICK TICK TICK.
I want my mama so bad. I want her to live eternal. I want to wrap her in a blanket and mummify her so she is perfect and preserved forever. I would make her face stay alive and we could talk, and I would also keep her hands to rub my feet for me. My mom is the queen of all givers. A martyr to giving, sacrificing herself for the cause.
And so I get back to my home and it’s not the same. It doesn’t have the same feeling of long loved years behind it. The flannel sheets don’t snap as fresh. The milk isn’t as cold (not like I drink milk, because who would nowadays). My home has a few of her things from her home in it. A rug she wove. A photo of us when I was just newborn although she can’t be sure if its me or my dead baby sister.
“You looked identical” she said.
Imagine that, not being able to remember which child it was in the photo- its been so long since it was taken. She tells me of the morning she woke up and was relieved to not hear my sister Robin crying. She fell back asleep. Hours later she awoke again and knew something was wrong. She went to the babies room and Robin had died. Sudden Infant Death. She blamed herself and she still does, for going back to sleep that morning long ago.
This is why I think I find it hard to relax because I was taught that with relaxation comes mistakes. They took the baby in to the hospital. I don’t know if it is my morbid imagination or her talking about it but I see a babies arm limp in the bassinet bouncing with the potholes as the truck drove down the dirt road into town, it’s cab window smashed out. No, it was her. That was her memory. And lying in a tub of hot water squeezing the milk out of her engorged breasts that wanted to feed. This is her memory as well. One that makes my throat close when I imagine it, imagining the pain she was going through. I cannot. But I feel it somewhere deep down as her memories are now becoming mine.
I say it’s what split them up. The pain of loosing a child. My Dad later impregnated my mother with me so that he could leave and she would not be alone. She told me she was glad he did that, he was right, it was easier to be left with someone. She used to put me in the top drawer of a cedar chest by the wood stove to keep me warm. I think that being that young and feeling all that pain and being the one responsible to take it away is a lot of pressure for a baby. I have carried it through my whole life, the sense of responsibility. Caring for my parents like a full-time job. And still, home, as stressful and lonely and pressurizing as it all was- I long for it now.
I am coming closer to the whisper of a shadow of the truth that my mom will die. She will die and it will be younger than I would like her too. I am praying to God that she gets 8 more years. I’m not sure how that number relates to her but it will mean I will be 41 and I think I can manage it then. I’ll have kids to take my mind off it, like what my Dad did for her. I pray “Dear God, please let my mother have a relationship with her grandchildren” that’s all I ask. For her and for me because I need to know things still. How do I fold a tight diaper? I want help, no matter how bad her advice is (this is a woman who didn’t know what an avocado was till I was in my mid 20’s) I want to hear it.
She is a tiny little lady now, she has lost a lot of weight. But she is still trucking around hauling up shit from the basement and pushing lawn mowers up steep hills. This is a woman who would have knocked out a wall, built an island in the kitchen and re-plumbed during the long weekend while we were away visiting Dad, figuring it out as she went along. Partially to keep herself busy in an empty house and partially because she can do anything she sets her mind to. This woman can surely kick it for 8 more years. She is my home. I have no where else to go to. Please God I need her to stay strong for me.