TAKING LEAVE FROM THE AFTERLIFE


Don’t feel like doing much of anything after not doing much of anything for the past three days after being laid low by a stomach bug upon arrival in the city. This idleness has been good since it has given me the passivity to simply hang out with my mother who loves to talk non-stop, weaving and reweaving the tapestry of her life. “It gets very lonely without having someone to talk to,” she says, and I am here to listen for the hundredth, no, thousandth time to her stories that I know so well I know what word and description is coming next. It is as if her memories are scribed indelibly in her mind, written, as if on stone, since they vary so little with each retelling. Yesterday she said, did I tell you about . . .
and I said, before she finished her sentence, yes, you did.
Which one, she asked.
The one you were going to tell me.
which one was I going to tell you?
yes, mom, which one were you going to tell me?
I’ve forgotten, she said. But did I tell you about . . . ?

Very sweet and very frustrating being with her. The other day she came to my door, all hobbled over her cane, crying and sobbing because she missed dad. I held her like a shriveled up old child. She barely come up to my heart, so shriveled and collapsed she is. I walked her to her room and her bed and lay down by her, listening to her sobbing and touching her. Dad died eight years ago, mom. Really? she said. No, just a year ago.

Her brain is so mixed up with total sense and utter confusion. She wants dad to come and take care of some property issues that the family is having. He can take leave from the afterlife, she thinks. Surely they can give him some time off to take care of business? What kind of people are they anyway, she asks.

But through all of this she has no forgotten her OCD nature. Yesterday she got into big trouble with her maid over some marks on the floor and said some nasty things to her which she was very upset about. Then she gets frightened that the maid is going to leave and lies about what she said to her. When the maid sticks to her version, she tells me, can’t you tell her that I said this, and not that? No, mom, I can’t. I wasn’t even there. She got really angry with me for not agreeing to her lie. All day yesterday the whole house was agitated and I had to get away to my sister’s for some respite. I really ought to be more patient. When I come to the city, patience is in my job description.

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