On one of our annual trips to Indiana to visit our mother, I told my sister Abby that we needed to tell Mother we were just getting too old for this shit. It was a twelve hour drive that we dreaded. Well, maybe I should say I dreaded the trip. Ever the optimist, Abby was still thinking that maybe this time the visit would be pleasant. She never gave up the hope, no matter how unrealistic it was.
The call to Mother set the tone for the rest of the visit. She was mad from the outset.
She shrieked over the phone line:
Why in the world would you stay in a motel? I suppose my house isn’t good enough for the two of you! I don’t understand why you even came down!
That’s exactly what I was thinking!
The next morning, Abby and I drove over to our mother’s humble abode. I would have preferred to just blow the horn and have her come out but Abby insisted we go in. One of the problems was that it didn’t matter how hot it was, there was no air conditioning. Now, I hate to sweat and I love air conditioning.
This was never a good start. After trying to find a path to the kitchen, Abby and I stumbled in to find our mother and her husband number three sitting at the kitchen table amidst a huge pile of bills, letters, an overflowing ash tray, old plates of food and several mugs filled with suspicious liquid. I tried to speed up our departure so we could escape the stifling heat and mess.
Mother would have no part of that, instead asking us to sit down and visit. I asked her where were we to sit since there was obviously no clean space. Another smart-ass comment was uttered by Mother in reply, and away my mother, my sister, and I went.
Our next stop was Wal-Mart where we purchased several bags of food for her and Tom. Then we went to lunch where we hoped that Mother would not fall down on her way in. Finally we returned to her habitat where we unloaded her bags and began to put things away. Her comment was so typical:
Who lives here, you or me? Just drop the bags on the floor and I’ll put them away later.
Of course Abby and I knew later would never come.
Off we went to return to the motel to have some “cooling off” time. It was near Mother’s birthday so we returned and off we went again to have dinner. It was always a race to see who could finish first so we could speed up the evening. We raced back to the abode, said our good-byes and were grateful that we were done for another year. Abby did finally agree that it seemed like a long drive for a few short hours of agony with Mother.
On our long trip back, I convinced Abby that it was just too much and we were getting too old for this shit. But as one month led to another, soon Abby was once again planning another trip to Indiana for us. The unpleasant memories had faded in her mind, and she thought just maybe this time would be different.
How wrong this thinking turned out to be.