She had stormed off to get a table. Utterly ignoring the queue of diners already waiting to be seated. My Mother was hungry and she shouldn’t have to wait. We were at a Pizza Hut and it was Christmas Eve. Myself and my partner at the time were with her. He had been very good in dealing with her behaviour over the previous 3 years but he also found it alarming. Once we had been seated, after they removed my Mother from the kitchen as she was looking for a member of staff to seat her, she started to misbehave and swear. If you swear around my Mother it is unacceptable. If she swears then the rules don’t apply. On this occasion she embarrassed us enormously when I gave a member of the waiting staff a tip and, in a packed restaurant, she decided to shout “don’t give it to her she was f*cking useless”.
This has become the way that she is now that she was unable to strike out and that I no longer lived at home. On one infamous dinner with my partners sister with her new boyfriend she decided to ask him why someone of his age was interested in her, apart from the obvious, and went on to suggest that nobody his age came without baggage. Now what I should point out is there was perhaps 4 years between them and there had been 8 years between my parents. Again an example of the same rules do not apply to my Mother. She also was not maternal in the slightest towards my other half’s sister. She just wanted to pick a fight.
There is perhaps another reason for her being the way she is now. In the time between me living at home and now my Father had died. After almost 40 years together she was all alone. It rocked her a little while. She lost her confidence and, dare I say it, became almost bearable for a year or two. Once the reality of being alone set in and her confidence returned she was worse than ever. Having nobody at home to control meant that now any member of waiting staff was fair game and, should you annoy her in any way, so were you now. Her verbal attacks became worse and completely without boundaries. She would stick the knife into other family members. In what has gone down in our family Christmas history as awful, she berated my Aunty while she was sat only a metre away from her as if she couldn’t hear her.
Of course with my Mother the simple act of my Father dying was not without complications. He was diabetic and had had several strokes. Upon discovering I was gay she decided to stop speaking to me and forced my Father to not speak to me either. I call him regardless and she never knew. What did though that was out of my control was to not buy food for the house. The care workers would come in and have no food to give him. I discovered this when, on one visit, he had a hypo attack and I had to call the District Nurse. He was forced into hospital at one point and there were concerns he was a battered husband. He would be alone at home all day, then she would return and make dinner before going upstairs and leaving him all night as well. My Father went to his grave knowing the same fear of her that I did, there is no doubt in my mind of that.
In the final 18 months of his life the Social Services took him away from her and placed him in a care home. She acted devastated. In her defence she visited him every day. He suffered in care as he had at home. Finally he acquired an infection and passed away. She was bereft, mainly because she was alone and very afraid. She had never been alone before in her life. Her father had passed away after she was married. I once found her sat in the dark because the iron had tripped the fuse board and she didn’t know what to do. I rang her every day for months to try and help her get through it. In doing this I made a rod for my own back. She never wanted it to stop and to this day, almost 6 years later, she expects daily contact even though I resist.
Shortly before my Father had died I put her back in touch with her sister. While I had no interest in maintaining contact, I felt she needed someone to be there for her that knew her and understood her. Their absence from each other’s lives of almost 30 years was due to my Mothers own jealousy. She had felt their Mother, also absent for over 30 years, loved her sister more than her. Her evidence for this? She had sent her a card on the birth of her child but when my Mother ended up in hospital, due to an accident, she did not send her a card. This was the last straw and my Mother broke all contact with her and even, 32 years later, refused to go to the funeral. I’m not sure that even her sister could really understand this behaviour, I certainly didn’t and pleaded with her to go.
This brings us more or less to the last 18 months of contact with my Mother. It was in this period that my life started to fall apart as hers got better again. Her confidence, almost arrogance, was dominating and suffocating. Something had to change and change it did.