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)