As an adult, I used to delay visiting mom as long as possible. Mom made me feel like a child, regardless of my actual age or even the fact that I was also a mom.
Mom’s house was a cluttered arrangement of mementos. Every gift that everyone ever gave her was appropriately displayed, along with pictures of the children, grandchildren, and every high school graduation or wedding that had ever taken place in the family. One look around the room and your entire life flashed before your eyes.
Mom was always cold so the house was always hot. As beads of sweat pop out, you dared not inquire as to what the temperature might be. “It seems a bit cold in here, only 78 degrees.” Even the houseplants had wilted from lack of air.
Meals at mom’s house were always a smorgasbord. Mom had been cooking for at least a week prior to your visit in spite of the fact that you were overweight and trying to diet. Of course, you had to eat so her work didn’t go to waste. And when you felt as if another bite would make you explode, she said, “I made your favorite dessert, coconut cream pie.”
Sleeping at mom’s house was a real challenge. Mom still had the same mattress on the extra bed in the spare room that had always been there. It must have been at least 50 years old. Even the lumps had mellowed. When you would lay down, you would sink about 8 inches into the mattress, like a waterbed without water.
Of course, just finding the bed was a formidable task. First you must dig through layers of cushions and ruffled bedspreads without tripping over a footstool or knocking over an antique lamp. Chances are that mom had already turned the bed back for you, though.
Mom was very neat. In the morning she made up the bed while you were in the shower. When you left a room, she turned out the light. She put anything
you left out of place beside your suitcase, “So you will be sure not to forget it.” She poured your coffee and put a coaster under your cup. You were not allowed to help with dishes as she could do it faster herself, without a dishwasher.
The principle item in mom’s living room was the television set, and everything focused on the tube, like leaves turning toward the sun. Dad held the remote control. Just as you begin to get interested in a program, he changed the channel. If there was nothing he wanted to watch, he turned it off.
Mom was happier when the TV was turned off because “It makes too much noise
anyhow,” and she could not talk. Mom told the same stories over and over. Sometimes they varied a bit from telling to telling, but mostly they were always the same. She talked from the moment you walked in the door until you left. You knew every doctor she had, every pill she took, every operation and illness, and every friend that had died and who came to the funeral.
If you went somewhere, mom pointed out all the interesting sites along the way: the local nursing home, her lawyer’s office, the school where your sister used to teach, the church that her brother helped to build, the street where houses used to be before the mill tore them down, and other local sites of immense interest.
So, you ate till you ached, you listened till your ears hurt, and you were glad that mom was still able to tell her stories. You loved her in spite of it all. Now that mom is gone, you realize that what used to be a minor annoyance was simply mom saying “I love you.”
Now you secretly wonder if you will ever become just like her? You are already telling stories.