The Black Bird Waits

    I talked to mom a little the other day.  I’m still doing my best not to see only what I feel are her faults and flaws.  That sounds worse if you don’t know our story.  The history is deep and ugly.  Thinking of my relationship with mom reminds me of this clay dirt in Mississippi.  We went to Mississippi once to take down fencing on a construction site for a college dorm.  They were digging out hillside thick with beautifully rich dirt that felt heavy and muddy even when dry.  I worked all day pulling posts out of that dirt. Calluses started to grow in the bends of my fingers and palms.   And then it started to drizzle.  It was a blessing with the humidity steaming my back but dad started to rush pulling posts and rolling fencing.  He claimed there was nothing worse than working in Mississippi red in the rain.

Red Bluff

    The dirt began gripping the posts fiercely as it absorbed the rain; the calluses on my palms became as useless as the kitten paws that first approached the site.  Next thing I knew, the posts stopped giving way to my weak teenaged arms.  The mud was clay beneath my feet.  It molded and clung to my sneakers, making walking feel like I had on cinder block shoes. It sucked in those posts and held them like a vice. It took using my entire weight to wiggle them free. I spent the next week drying out my shoes, picking off chunks of clay, wetting them, wiping them…repeat.  My relationship with my mother is a suspended struggle in time between me, those fence posts and that red Mississippi mud.

    download    But I’m a Cancerian and I’m loyal to the bone.  I love my grandpa despite the distance and time between the last words we spoke directly to one another.  And I love my mother despite the things I disagree with in her life.  I want to make sure they are all okay.  I need to know they are all okay.  My mother, in my opinion, doesn’t simply deserve to be alone.  I feel it would benefit her greatly to learn to be alone before rushing off to the next penis waiting to take advantage of her under the deceptive guise of assistance and support.

    So I stay in contact with her.  I make no false claims of my feelings towards her and I have not closed all paths of communication in an attempt to prove that I prefer brutal honesty over her deceptive and manipulative ways.  She is my mother.  That horribly [in]sensitive and weak beast of a woman is my mother and I love her with every disrespecting bone in my body.

    It takes a lot of work not to remind her how disgusted I am with her each time we talk.  It’s one of the main reasons I never contact her.  I only respond, I do not reach out.  I will not go out of my way to harm her emotionally or in any other way but I will not let her forget what she has chosen over me and my family.

   My grandpa won’t make it much longer.  He’s 92 years old.  Can you imagine living so long?  He’s so old and frail he’s not strong enough to handle pain medicine they wouldn’t give a young child.  He is littered with cancers. He worked on Nuclear subs in his prime after he left the navy.  I don’t know what he did but he has never had to worry about money so I assume what he did was smart and difficult.  White picket fence around his two story house with the huge back yard that used to house a pool.  I asked my mom once why they got rid of their pool, her answer?

Your grandma was an alcoholic whore in the sixties, Kt.  Grandpa got tired of catching her in the bushes with the neighbors during her famous block parties

   My grandma always wore these soft tan trench coats with Kleenex stuffed up the sleeves and she smelled of Wrigley’s spearmint gum.  I could never in my life imagine her throwing a kegger in her backyard in the sixties or getting caught in the bushes with the neighbors.

   There’s a man Grandpa says is there for him.  He’s waiting.  He’s just waiting. Waiting for my grandpa to die. For obvious reasons it scares him. He’s convinced a black bird is spying on him.  It’s waiting to carry him away.  Mom says the freakiest thing about it all isn’t the conviction in his voice nor the fear in his eyes but the fact that she has seen the damn black bird watching him as if it really is waiting to carry his spirit towards its next journey.

   My grandma has always been the one.  Her family has always been the one.  When her mom was put in a home she revealed her eternal fear of hotdogs.  Her family thrived on them or something similar during the Great Depression. She died with a hotdog waiting on her dinner tray.  They gave her one every day. When her dad went next they discovered they hoarded gallons of milk.  Milk was very precious during the Great Depression, I imagine.  Gallons of curdled milk were found stashed throughout their house.  Antique clocks worth thousands, possibly more, were found stacked in the basement.  He had a thing with time.  I can imagine him in his basement, the old man I met once or twice.  He was a little hunched over bald guy with black rimmed glasses enlarging his beady little black eyes. I can picture him down there counting down time amongst hidden gallons of curdled milk.

   Losing one’s mind runs in the Parisian side of the family.  When my grandma started to lose her mind it wasn’t a surprise.  The first phone call claiming police had to bring her in the house at three in the morning from the backyard where she danced in her nightie in the dead of winter wasn’t as big a surprise as it should have been.  Having a conversation stop midway and hear “Who am I talking to again?” was no big surprise either. Hearing of my grandpa speak of a man waiting in the corner for him is odd, surprising and scary.  My grandpa is rooted firmly in reality where his honor rules his pride as a God Fearing Catholic, Polish man. He’s the last of a respectable generation. His mind is clear.

   I’m heartbroken but I remain quiet.  I’ve been fortunate to not have to deal with deaths in the family but because of that I am lost so I hold it all in.  I’m not sure what is expected of me.  How do I react appropriately?  A part of me wants to lay down and cry and the other parts are waiting for relief for the old man I’ve always loved and appreciated as a sturdy and reliable pillar of faith, strength and steadfastness.  He represents everything I did not have in the household my mother built for me. Losing him will hurt but I will burn a flame within the pillar to keep what he represents alive within me.

   I really am not looking forward to the next message from my mother but I will let that Mississippi red hold me and I will be there for her.



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