My mother just called me. She is not yet 90, but almost. I wasn’t really in the mood to talk and I tried to talk myself out of not wanting to talk, but I think it showed. Maybe I’m just out of practice. Not speaking for over 2 days makes it inconceivable to imagine speaking ever again. Maybe some day I will speak, but I worry that by the time that happens, I will have forgotten the words. And if I remember even a few of them, I won’t know which ones to use first. I won’t know how to prioritize. It could be a real problem.
There was a pause in the conversation. And for some reason I found enough words to complete a sentence, a question rather to my mother. Asking her if she had watched any of the TV shows about the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. And she had. She wondered why the the project (as she called it) came to an end and what happened to all of the people who worked on it. I said, well, I guess they ran out of money. Nobody has money any more.
I know I was projecting my own financial crisis onto the world of space exploration. It’s a very narrow perspective. But it was the best I could offer.
And my mom asked me if I remembered how she went out and bought all of these stamps commemorating the moon landing. Which of course I could not. I said, “Mom, I was 11.” Which was less a statement about my memory as much as a memory about me at 11 just not really paying close attention to stamps or the price of stamps. She was collecting these stamps from all over the world and she had to stop because she was running out of money. It’s always about money.
Then she told me about my oldest sister who had just moved to the area and was renting an apartment for her and her dog and she wanted to stay there a year but that the landlord just told her that he would not be renewing the lease and that she had to leave when it ends in month or so because the dog is creating a disturbance. And now she was looking for a house, but can’t find anything decent that’s affordable and she’s going to try to rent a house instead.
And I thought, gosh, shouldn’t my sister who is 64 and a doctor have done a better job of planning her relocation? It seemed odd that she didn’t see consider all of these potential issues. But I didn’t say anything.
Even if I was well-practiced in saying things, I probably would still have not known what to say.
And then my mom said “you should call your sister.” And my body tightened up. The only thing I could articulate was “mom, you shouldn’t tell me when to call her. I’ll call her but I don’t need to be told.” And of course I instantly regretted that terse response. I am such a jerk. And she said, “well, nobody in this family calls each other.”
And I said, ‘well, you can’t force it.”
I’m not sure what happened after that.
So now there’s the guilt. But I can’t myself to do anything about it.
I think this might be one of the family curses. We’re all smothered by loneliness, but incapable of responding to each other in healthy meaningful effectual ways. We are exactly the wrong people to rely upon.
I see my mother and my sisters, both of them, and I feel lonelier than ever.