Friday, March 21, 2014

The Rolling Stones Had It Right

You can't always get what you want.

I have said time and again that when my mother dies I will not cry. There is not the bond between us that–I presume, I imagine–most daughters feel. Those daughters grieve when their mother dies. I will not.

If I am to cry, it will be soon, and maybe even now. At two months from turning 101, her communication skills are failing. Hard and fast. The frustration of trying to determine the slightest thing is horribly frustrating.

I try to be considerate of and thoughtful toward her. I try to let her know she is in my thoughts. But it doesn't matter. She's all that is in her thoughts. I imagine she was a narcissist since long before she participated in the decision to adopt me. She does it so well. She does it with the skill of someone who has been practicing for decades.

I made the mistake of calling her today. She flashed across my mind and I thought it would be nice to let her know that. I looked at my watch, and it was a time she might be in her room. So I called and she answered. She recognized my voice-she has a decent memory.

I asked how she was, and got the same answer I have been getting for 20 years, "Pretty good for an old lady." I guess if I want a different answer I should ask a different question. She didn't have much to say.

I asked if she had gotten the clipping I sent her a week ago. I accompanied a one-act Mozart opera recently and my picture was in the newspaper. I sent her the clipping, thinking she would enjoy reading it. She had no recollection. After trying several different ways to jog her memory, she said, "Oh, yes. That was nice." No questions about the program or my performance, no interest in prolonging that conversation or learning a little bit more about the woman her daughter has become.

I tried to tell her that her great-grandson had been in the local spelling bee last weekend, but could not get her to decipher my words. Nor would she admit to not understanding my words. I gave up, closing with "I'll talk to you soon."

I can hear what you're thinking. You're thinking I'm a self-centered, spoiled brat. Maybe so.

For over 60 years I've been trying to get this woman to care about me, to be grateful for my life. She doesn't. She isn't. At 101, how many years does she have left? Certainly not enough to change this deep-rooted behavior.

My life partner encourages me to quit trying. He recognizes her for who she is. And he sees clearly her inability to care.

Maybe I can borrow his glasses.