Friday, April 04, 2008

Mothers and Fathers

His beach & crab, not mine

My Mother rang last week to tell me that she has sold the house. The one I grew up in.

It has been almost two years since My Father died. During that time My Mother has been debating where to live, what do do next. The decision has been a difficult one for her to make; there was so much to consider. Stay or go? If go, go where? In the end she has decided to move to the end of Long Island. To a cottage in a retirement complex near where for years we spent summers as a family. My Father loved sailing, you see.

I asked what had prompted her to make up her mind. She replied that she had wanted to move and settle while she still had her health. That her new neighbours all seemed to be the right sort of people for her. That all her needs will be catered for. That she felt a connection to the place. A raft of understandable, sensible reasons.

But it's a raft afloat in a deep and bitter sea, one inhabited by scaly grudges, chimerical misconceptions, and poisonous self-righteousness. Because you see, it's all my fault she's being forced to choose. All. My. Fault. And she spares no opportunity to remind me of this.


I have vivid memories of those Long Island summers. Weekends spent combing long beaches that left my heart curiously desolate. Suffocating heat. The dry whisper of wind tousling dun seagrass. The prickly thrills of approaching marooned horseshoe crabs, unsure whether they were alive or dead. The peace of exploring alone for afternoons on end in a stout rowboat. Frustrated adolescent hours spent wishing I was somewhere more hip and interesting. Guilt that I did not like sailing anywhere near as much as My Father did.

I've not been back there for fifteen years.

After the call I dreamed of My Father for the first time in nearly two years. We were in a large car, a late-model Dodge of some sort. I was driving, he sat in the passenger seat. We talked minimally as we drove through a dreamscape neighborhood not unlike the leafy, green one in which I grew up, turning left and right. Eventually I found myself on a rutted, sandy road lined with dun seagrass. I tried to drive on, but the car was too wide and the ruts to deep. I got out and pushed, with no success. Then, almost without my noticing it, My Father faded away.

I woke up sometime in the depth of the night, still able to feel the contours of the dream. Dearest Wife slept on beside me, and Ginadawg snored beneath the bedclothes. My eyes were wet; I had been crying. I wiped them dry on the duvet and turned over on my side, feeling hollow inside.

Pale Saints - Mother Might (buy e-here)
Swans - Mother/Father (buy here or e-here)
This Mortal Coil - My Father (buy here or e-here)


JC said...

Its not your fault my amigo.

Despite the geographical separation of BC and NY, you do much more for your mum than many other folk I know...

I get the feeling though that it wont be too long before you feel a need to visit Long Island again. I hear that its rather beautiful in many places.

Stay strong.

ally. said...

we raised a glass of something warming to you on yours in southend on saturday - i hope our wishes reach you soon

Mentok said...

It really is uncanny, brotha. My mom's talking to realtors too. But, in my case, it's not "ALL my fault". Because I have a sister.

Anyway, I'm reading you loud and clear on the ol' karma radio.

Brad said...

How did I not know that you used to "summer" on Long Island? Well, after your description, I guess I know why. Sorry to hear about Mum ditching your childhood home. It doesn't matter if you haven't lived there for years; I know it feels like something stolen when that old bedroom ends up belonging to someone else. I imagine it's even worse when it's unexpected and then wrapped with drama. Really sorry to hear about that mate. I'm sure your dad wouldn't have wanted it to be that way for you.

Just a Girl said...

Parentals can have a certain way with us even when we are older and wiser and like you, a parental ourselves.

For me the mom is the sticky parent as well. We didn't speak for 6 months because I was done, done, done.

A lot better now. Plus I have a sis who is golden and step sisters providing glorious grand children so I'm pretty low on the totem pole.

FiL said...

Dearest Friends, apologies for not responding sooner. I felt I had to let this one simmer, then cool for a bit...

Dearest JC, many thanks. I'm not always sure I DO do enough, because I can't quite peg what enough is, under the circumstances...

Dearest Ally, that was most kind of you. I'm sure Uncle Don smiled.

Dearest Mentok, I often wish there was someone to share the burden. Or who at least could take some of the bullets.

Dearest Brad, thanks for your wishes. I must say it wasn't really unexpected; she had been talking about possibly selling up for some time. The ultimate decision was, however, quite sudden. But I am pleased that she has made a decision she seems to be happy with. And though you're right that it'll be odd when it's all gone, that's not what really bothers me. What gets me is the reasoning behind it: had it not been for YOU and your SELFISHNESS, I wouldn't HAVE to do this. As for Dad, well, he was a stick-in-the-mud who would have resisted selling up. :) But he would have wanted Mum to be happy. Sigh.

Dearest JaG, it's such a waste of time and energy and emotion, isn't it?? But glad to hear that you do have someone else to draw the attention...