Every time my mother announced she could visit me in Phoenix, my stomach tightened up into a ball. On one occasion, she arrived with something very much resembling a bird’s nest on her head. It was her latest wig.
A few minutes after arrival, while I was still taking in the bird’s nest and the tons of make-up she was wearing, Mother announced that her brother-in-law (who had provided her a ride to the airport) thought she should “really fix” her husband by not coming back to California and instead moving in with me!
Now the fact that she was fighting with her husband was hardly a news flash, but I definitely had to get ahead of the plan to move in with me. I said:
Well, that simply won’t work. You and I have never been able to get along for more than a few hours, remember?
I knew that her brother-in-law was just trying to get rid of her, and I had to hand it to him. He thought I might have a serious case of amnesia and had forgotten how difficult she could be. Oh my! Even if I had had a bad case of memory loss, just one evening with my mother would bring back all of her delightfulness.
In the article Cantaloupe Pie, I have already told about her behavior in a Chinese restaurant. Now I must tell you about her behavior in another restaurant, a buffet that I enjoyed going to—well, I used to enjoy going to. When we were seated, my mother announced:
Oh, your Uncle Bob once took me to a dump like this.
After managing to eat just about everything except for the plates and silverware, I asked my mother if she wanted to stop in the restroom.
Oh, why do you insist on treating me like the Village Idiot?
she yelled. I tried to explain that I was just being courteous, but that was a total waste of time.
She wailed even more:
Everyone thinks I am the Village Idiot! I wish you would respect me…
I’m not sure how she finished this rant because I was hiding out in the Ladies Room.
Since I was working full-time you might think that my mother would help me with cooking or cleaning, but you would be wrong. She never lifted a finger to do anything and most of her time was spent trying to figure out places I could take her so we could spend some more of my money.
Of course, she always wanted to meet my friends and since I was not ready to share my Far From Normal life with them, that was a no-go. She did manage to meet one of my best friends Susan (who was a very loving receptive individual with a somewhat Far From Normal life herself as she attempted to raise her seven boys). My mother was true to form when she met Susan. She was kind, interesting and in no way off the wall. My mother was blessed with the ability to hide her true self and almost appear normal.
Once I got her back on a plane to California, I decided the get-togethers were over. We spoke on the phone and she continued to impersonate a normal person. Her short phone conversations were actually quite pleasant and enjoyable. Like the Wizard of Oz, she did better when she was behind the curtain.