The Thousand Year Old Boy

Posted: December 14, 2012 in Life, Mom
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

I feel old. I feel tired – not physically tired, but just weary and heavy. I’ve felt that way since I was a kid, and no surprise. I was always cleaning up my Mother’s messes – putting out the fires when she inevitably pissed someone off, or convincing people she was just having a “bad day” when in fact she was out of her mind, or making sure she didn’t do anything to hurt herself. Several times as a kid, she threatened suicide. I’m not sure how serious she actually was – supposedly people who are serious don’t talk about it (I found this out later, and have some doubts about veracity of this view). I do count her trying to order a Mafia hit on herself as a suicide attempt, even though it had zero chance of actually working (she was delusional, and Russ was not involved in the Mafia regardless). Another time, shortly after we returned to regular lessons with Russ (and we were there like clockwork – if there was a blizzard and I had two legs stuck in a bear trap, we would have made it there) Mom started crying on the way home. She related a conversation with Russ that did not occur – I told her I heard none of this, and she insisted it happened while I was in the bathroom. I took her word for it, but I had my doubts (knowing what I know today, I’m sure the conversation in question didn’t happen). Whatever the content of their discussion – and I don’t remember specifics – it was something to the effect of that Gaffe was never coming back, the Mafia wasn’t interested in backing her/us and her/we had failed their “tests”. I became very concerned that I had done something wrong.

Me: Mom, what did I do wrong?

Mom: I don’t know. I don’t even know what I did wrong.

Me: Can we fix it?

Mom: I don’t think we can. I think the best thing I can do is just…go away.

Me: …go away? What do you mean?

She pulled over to the shoulder of the road. We were traveling on a huge, high-speed, 6 lane highway.

Mom: Take your brother and get out of the car.

Me: WHAT? Why?

Mom: Just do what I say.

Me: I’m not doing that.

Mom: Do what I say.

Me: Why do we need to get out of the car?

Mom: I’m going to drive into an embankment. Don’t worry, I’ll make it look like an accident.

Me: WHAT!? WHY!?

I was crying, Tim was crying, and Mom was crying. It took a long time – over an hour, maybe – but I managed to talk her down. I have no idea what I said – maybe I told her it could all be worked out, maybe I convinced her that her killing herself would mean failing a “test”, maybe I told her we needed her. Either way, after she got control of herself she pulled carefully back on the highway and we made our way home.

Another time – and I’m sure for a similar, delusional reason – Mom went on a full on rant. I have never seen an adult act like a child before, but my Mother was actually acting younger than me. She stomped up and down screaming “FUCK! I’M SO FUCKING TIRED OF THIS FUCKING SHIT!” – if she had a bright red face and steam coming out of her ears, she would have looked like the cartoon depiction of anger. She kicked stuff. She threw stuff. She did everything but lay on the floor and kick her feet. The outburst came out of nowhere, and soon she was not only raging but crying as well. Finally, she announced her intention:

Mom: I’M GOING UPSTAIRS TO KILL MYSELF!

My Grandma and I were sitting in the den, looking at each other. We weren’t sure what to do. She and I both went upstairs to her room, only to find the door locked. We could hear a gun being loaded, and my heart stopped. She had gotten ahold of my Grandfather’s old hunting rifle. I had no doubts that it would work – he kept everything in pristine, beautiful condition. He even oiled the wood on the stock. Grandma and I both screamed at her, but we were pretty much helpless – neither one of us had the strength to bust open the door. Even if we did, she had a loaded rifle. What the hell were we supposed to do? We convinced her to not kill herself, somehow, though she didn’t come out of the room for hours. I set up camp in the hall, waiting for any sign. After a long silence, she spoke:

Mom: I’m not going to kill myself. You can go downstairs.

I immediately thought it was a trap. She just wanted me to go downstairs so she could kill herself in peace.

Me: No. I’m staying here until you come out and put the gun back in the closet.

Mom: But I’m not going to do anything!

She was whining, and I took this as a good sign – it wasn’t rage and it wasn’t sobbing hysterically. She was calming down. I tried to talk to her more, but she wouldn’t talk back. I waited longer. Finally, the door opened and she emerged without the rifle. The standoff exhausted me – it still does.

I became the responsible adult – making sure she paid her bills, reminding her where she parked her car, reminding her about appointments, remembering her purse and valuables for her. At first, I did this only occasionally – it became more and more apparent, however, that she needed help. Forgetting her purse or wallet or credit cards or cash was a weekly occurrence. She’d frequently “lose” money from her purse – not have as much as she thought she had, and insist it was stolen or lost. Locking herself out of the car (sometimes with it running) happened regularly – sometimes several times a month, even with my intervention. Whenever we exited the car or went somewhere, I would begin my litany:

Do you have your keys? Do you have your cash and cards? Do you have your purse? Did you lock the car door? Are all the windows up?

Sometimes I would forget, resulting in an ordeal where a tow truck would need to be called to break into the car. Or sometimes we’d have to run all over God‘s creation looking for her purse or valuables. Eventually, I started making the business calls myself – talking to my agent personally to take auditions. She would only talk to them when there was a problem (which I tried to make sure there wasn’t – my job was to prevent blowups as well, when I could help it).

I did all of this – somehow – while maintaining not only a career but my own composure. And of course I had to watch myself – a wrong move would bring the Mafia down on the whole family. I remember once, we were at a Bob’s Big Boy. I had ordered a strawberry pie for desert, and Mom had ordered coffee. I noticed the man sitting in the booth behind us looked a bit like Russ. Thinking my observational skills would please her, I mentioned this.

Me: Hey Mom…that guy over there kinda looks like Russ.

The blood drained from her face and she yelled for the check. She leaned in close to me and whispered.

Mom: You just got him killed.

She grabbed my elbow and rushed me out of the restaurant – I’m not even sure my sneakers touched the floor.

Like I said. I was responsible for a lot.

 

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