She Waits: The story of my life with my mother (short version)

My mother waits.

For death, I believe.

Playing solitaire by the hour, day, week after week.

Waiting.

In my house.

Failing me as an adult child as she did when I was a dependent child.

Resentful that her children kept her from getting the man she wanted.

The unnamed, unidentified, fantasy man who would give her all she needed.

An amalgamation of men who paraded through her life, failing to see through her wiles to comprehend the truth beneath her smile.

Her once young self with a beautiful face, flawless skin, tapered legs, skin bearing evidence of the races mixing in her blood, still proud as she ages.

She’s needed all of these components throughout her life; still uses all to get what she wants.

Still not accepting, in her advanced age, that it was she who, in her prime of life, controlled conception, contraception, birth.

Not the men whose faces she can no longer recall.

It was her who brought us here into her world. Eight.

She remains the outward picture of southern gentility.

Polite, but not friendly with my friends.

She makes only a few of her own.

Stays away from long acquaintances who suggest death is near; no visits to friends in hospice care as if death will overtake her immediately–but isn’t that what she wants?

Even her children are kept somewhat distant.

Lonely and afraid she is.

Of life; living; a conundrum in one tiny figure.

Acquires no things of value or substance.

Afraid her children will inherit what she leaves.

Applies to all mail order sweepstakes while sending money for prayer schemes on a global level.

Still will not voluntarily contribute to conversation to the living.

Gives no gifts, but unforgiving when hers don’t arrive.

Does not socialize in friendly groups.

Just waits. For what, I ask?

For my ship to come in, she responds.

And she continues her lifetime wait.

A sad, lonely, still outwardly beautiful woman, waits.

She does take the time to tune in to electronic preachers asking her to send money.

Greedy for The Word as if there is a magic phrase, an elixir, that will admit her to heaven.

And in between The Word and solitaire–

She waits.

For death? Because she has not learned that death is the end of fulfillment for the living.

Waiting in my house, on my watch.

I’m afraid of that.

Not because it ends life, but because she will greet it like a long-lost lover.

Signifying that I, her grown woman child,

Am still unable to please her.

 

[1998]

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