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I don’t want to complain about my mother, because she did a lot of nice things. Some very considerate things. She came to Boston when my younger son was born and tried to keep my daughter from realizing, for a few days, anyway, that her life was changed, and not necessarily for the better. It was August. She took her to the community pool and came right back. Bees, she said. Bees everywhere. Do you always have this many bees? She could have flashes of insight. Once she said to me, This must be a hard time for you, and she wasn’t referring to the kids, and the dog, and right that minute the cat jumping onto the counter that held the telephone, which should have been much too high for a cat to reach. You really like to be alone, she said. She deserves credit for that, for seeing me as I was, but I do want to say that the years when she called and told me she was going to put her head in the oven, well, those years were hard. I tried talking her down. I suggested about a million times getting some help. I suppose what she wanted was for me to drop everything and go to her, which I did, but not often enough to fix whatever it was that needed fixing. The calls kept coming, she kept threatening, and I thought—not once, either—oh for Christ’s sake, just do it already. But I don’t want to complain about my mother. She loved me, in her own way, and in my own way, I loved her. Which, come to think of it, is probably what she wanted me to say when she told me she was really going to do it this time.
Copyright 2022 Wendy Mnookin
Wendy Mnookin’s books include Dinner with Emerson (Tiger Bark, 2016). She lives with her husband in Newton, Massachusetts, where they raised their three children.