Conversations About Mother (part i)

My brother and I are not on cordial enough speaking terms to the effect that we do not meet up, speak/text or are even Facebook BFFs. Our only connection is in regards to our mother, and even then contact is either brief moments filled with monosyllabic conversations or heated arguments that result in a lot of shameless threats thrown from both sides.

TheHusband, who finds my brother to be a gigantic asshole and refuses to allow him to step foot into our home until my brother apologizes for several unsavory things he’s said to me, did agree that any kind of “family” gathering should be done in a neutral location to keep the drama to low murmur. This is done to appease mother who continually harps and makes noises on “Why can’t you all just be civil to one another?” whenever my brother and I begin to bicker. Mother, however, seemingly and innocently forgets that much of my brother’s and I intolerance of each other has been started by her in some way and additionally while complaining about our sibling behavior, chooses to ignore the fact that she’s not spoken to half of her own brethren (she is the eldest of seven) in nearly five years for various infractions only known to her (and of which she can never explain when asked). Regardless of historical nods, my frustration levels skyrocket whenever a tentative olive branch is swung out to greet him, my brother will consistently denounce any kind of gathering, neutral or otherwise and effectively cock blocks any kind of civility I attempt to share when planning “family time,” regardless of how desperate my mother is to have it.

Therefore to save my sanity and have less dealings with my brother, family celebrations are now split in half for mother, who spends half her time with me and the remaining with my brother.

It is no surprise for this past Mother’s Day, I told mother that she should make plans with my brother first and then we would do our plans around those plans with my brother were made concrete. A day or two later, she tells me that she and my brother were having a mid-day meal at the retirement villa and that after, she’d like to come to our place to hang out while TheHusband and I gardened, followed by meal and game playing (Scrabble or Trivial Pursuit). Because it was her day, I also told her to pick the meal which to her meant giving me the breakdown of a four course (but very simple) meal, which TheHusband and I shopped and prepped for the day before. As mother no longer drives due to neuropathy in her feet caused by diabetes, additional timing is taken into consideration when scheduling events with her. I made it very clear to her that due to my work schedule the following day, it would need to be an early night and that since dinner would take about 1.5 to 2 hours from prep time to table, we would like to eat in the later afternoon with her tucked up back home at a fairly reasonable hour. She agreed.

With surface history of the dealings with my brother mentioned, I was not surprised upon receiving a call from my mother an hour before I was to pick her telling me that my brother could not make it to the mid-day meal (of course) and that instead, he was picking her up in the mid-afternoon to go to a party that was being held in his honor (his birthday was last week). With no thought to our feelings, plans, or prep for the meal she informs me that she’s going to this party. I asked her to call me if she was going to be arriving later then 5pm so we could plan accordingly. She in fact didn’t call until 6pm and was terribly surprised to find out that no, I was not picking her up and no, we were not having dinner as planned and in short, no, we’re not celebrating Mother’s Day with her. I made mention to dropping off some items of hers at her house the following day and hung up.

The following day, I kept to my promise and dropped some goods off at her apartment that I had ordered for mother from Amazon. Mother looked emotionally beaten and was clearly visibly upset. While I sat ramrod straight in a chair, pissed at how rude she behaved the day before, she proceeds to tell me with fat tears running down her cheeks that my brother spent the most of their time together the day before berating her for her behavior. Why was she not fast enough with her cane? Why is she so slow? Why is she not doing a million things at once like she used to do? My brother then apparently bragged that the people who were throwing him the party considered him as a second son (their own son died in a car accident in October 2010 and he and my brother were quite close) and that he wanted to be adopted by them. My brother is 32. On Mother’s Day, my brother used his time with her to talk about her failings, her missed actions and how horrible she was as a mother and did absolutely nothing else.

I struggled with two things that day: One how best to approach mother diplomatically in regards to her own fairly atrocious behavior and secondly, to not get caught up in the mother/brother drama that has pervaded me for nearly my entire life. I succeeded in the first but failed in the second.

This is a gloss over the day to day workings of my immediate family, which accounts for the partial disjointedness of the writing when attempting to explain in the shortest amount of time possible a second in a dysfunction that has been ongoing for decades. Much like that day when I sat ramrod straight in the chair, upset and angry for her behavior towards me, I could feel the undertow pull of her laying down the guilt no matter how much I fought against it. The unspoken listing of her wants and needs, rejecting the possibility that she’s ever done anything wrong is strong. How dare I criticize her when clearly my brother offended her the most with his behavior? Obviously, she should not want to live if we both think she’s the most horrible mother in the world!

I realised then I had two options: Instead of writing short stories where the mother is always violently killed, I would end up murdering my own OR I could start writing publicly about my family to get the tale out into the open. At the very least, it will keep me out of prison. At the very most, it will serve to help articulate years of feeling inadequacy for being born and save me thousands in future therapists bills.

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