As we were driving back from the airport, my oldest daughter, Amélie, turned to me and said quietly, “Oh my God, now there are TWO of them!”
My mum is as sweet as anyone on this planet and if there is a God, I am absolutely certain that He is waiting patiently for her to pass on so he can personally escort her through the Pearly Gates and tell her she deserves a heavenly rest. Long before I was ever a problem for her, she had a horrible start to life. She has no idea who her father is and her mother probably gave birth to her in some place in rural Ireland where girls-who-got-pregnant-before-marriage went to have their baby. (It is not known if this is exactly what happened, but it seems the most likely scenario.) When she was two years old, she was charged (yes, charged, I have the paperwork from the Court) with begging in Dublin with her mother. The court took her from her mother (this was in the middle of the Depression, by the way) and she was brought up in a convent. She left at 16 years old and moved to London where she eventually met my father, who never seemed to particularly get on with her when I was younger. When my father left her over 20 years ago, he refused to ever speak to her or see her again.
My first bout with stress was negotiating their divorce settlement to avoid them both losing everything they had to the layers who were quite happy for the back-and-forth wrangling to continue unabated. (Not ever being in the same room together didn’t help negotiations.)
By the time I was a teenager and learning about logic and debating competitively, my mother was already becoming the befuddled person she has been for many years. Maybe she has always been that way: puzzled by the intricacies of life and swept along without ever really being in control of her destiny. She always loved me. Too much. All of my friends wanted to swap their mother for mine. But they didn’t see how overbearing it was to me, an independent spirit, to be suffocated by so much…helpfulness and monitoring. I tried to explain to them that, yes, it’s nice she’s so loving, but she’s always there. And there are only so many meals I need cooked and so many clothes I need ironed. And what about learning to do some things for myself? Also, *nothing* was too personal to comment on, especially if we had guests or a girlfriend of mine in the house. Uggh. And nothing I did was ever quite good enough when inspected closely. After dropping Economics mid-year to switching to Chemistry, my 3rd-best subject, I got 98/100 for an end-of-year score and this resulted in, “But you could have got those extra marks if you tried harder.” Oh, yay…
By the time I was a young man, it was harder to avoid being stuck in a ‘confusion field’ if I spent too time with her. It was worse when we went out somewhere, where she would sometimes get into arguments with people over things (like change for the groceries) where she was so clearly in thre wrong. And you don’t want to get me started on the chaos that ensued after she was left in charge of the Babysitting Register that was a ‘trading system’ in the neighboorhood for parents. Fortunately for me, she found herself a new man, a good man, within a few years of getting divorced. The two of them are very alike. Which is not something Amélie had appreciated until the drive from the airport.
After … what will we call him … I know … MAURICE had launched into the third repetition of his riveting tale of how the security people at Los Angeles airport had asked him to take off his belt for the scanner long after his other things had gone ahead of him, Amélie had had enough and wanted to get out of the moving car. I might have let her if she hadn’t been the driver at the time. I tried the door handle a few times myself.
The only saving grace for me is that the two of them tend to gravitate to one another and dribble on about things that make my eyes glaze over in moments. They clearly love each other and are a very good match. I’d like to have someone so in tune with me. Although having someone with a positive IQ would be nice…