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Monday, September 17, 2012

On Leaving America - Part 17B

Digging up Bones   Part 5
[Continued from Part 4]

            My dad died—heart attack. My Mom was single for a few years and she changed. She changed from being a cross between Doris Day and Lucile Ball into an intelligent woman who could take care of herself very well and was interesting to talk to. Three year later she married again—to one of the most boring men I have ever met—an ex-farmer. He and my father had been friends. They both worked at the same refinery, but there was never anything between him and my mother before father’s death. The man’s wife died some years before my dad. It was simply a logical conclusion for the two of them to get together at their ages, time and place. They got along all right. He was smart about money and easy going, but I think he drove her crazy. He may have bored her into Alzheimer’s, or maybe she simply got old. She made to ninety.
            When she was alive I was in San Francisco and I didn’t see her very often, but we were on good terms. When her mental problems started she was still married, and stayed married until the last three years of her life. There was no way I could take care of her. The husband’s daughter ran some kind of home-spun health care service for people like my mom. She was taken care of . . . and I stayed away. And I stayed away, and I stayed away. She was in some kind of a health care place for a year or so, confined with some very crazy people—locked wards. I went to see her there and can still feel the moment. The wanting to get away, to get out of that place . . . those crazy old people . . . scary.
            And it must have been hell for her, but she was on drugs and seemed fairly relaxed.  She wasn’t that crazy.  I saw her few times. She always knew who I was. But minutes seemed like hours. I don’t know what the hell I could have done to make things better except be there and I sure as hell didn’t want to be there. When she was in perfect health I did not want to be there. I feel guilty for that. I’m sorry about that. She should have had three kids. She would have loved it—or a job. Now women have a job and kids. Not easy either way. It’s understandable a lot of women are starting to stay single.
            Mom was the creative part of me, still is I guess. She’d wanted me to go to Hollywood, become a set designer. Dad wanted me to be an engineer. I split the difference and became a contract electrical designer. Less exciting that Hollywood, but paid better. I didn’t miss any meals. But what would Hollywood been like? A totally different world. The path not taken.  She was rooting for a part of me that I was not aware of. And I’m sorry. Sorry we hadn’t been closer. Sorry I hadn’t listened to her more . . . . I was so busy trying to escape her love . . . and some kind of weird control.

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