Monday, April 24, 2017

I admit it.

"We admit that we are powerless over alcohol--that our lives have become unmanageable."

It's my mother who's unmanageable. Unless you call sitting in a recliner watching Turner Classic Movies with gas logs blazing in June in Mississippi, a tumbler of Paul Masson on the end table and surrounded by dog feces and the lights in the kitchen all burnt out so you can only see when the refrigerator's open and then the stench makes you take another long swallow of the Paul Masson....well, this sentence has gotten out of hand. 

But so has Mother's life. We thought, for a hot minute, she would stay in the nursing home, where she was nice. Nicer than she's been in twelve or so years. She was coming off detox for the second time. But even just those words, coming off detox for the second time... I mean,  if you're coming off detox for second time, maybe you should just hang it up and drink your liver into oblivion. Then die, of course, but on the other hand, Mother's great-aunt Sissy lived to be a hundred and four, and all the women on that side of the family pretty much showed their internal organs who was boss. Clara Cornelia, that was my great-great-aunt Sissy's name, and I named my girl after her, Claire. I modified it. Aunt Sissy was born in 1862 and lived on the plantation. She left me a red rolltop desk, but that's not why I named Claire after her; I was sick of the name Katherine. my mother's name, and anyway, we still have four or so in the family. Mother, my sister, my oldest daughter and her daughter. You can tell we run to females in this family, females and drink.

My grandmother was also named after great-aunt Sissy. Clara Mae, that was her name and she exerted more power than any of them. She vanquished her liver at age 67 and died in triumph in St. Joseph's hospital, yellow as a daffodil, or crime scene tape if you prefer, from the hepatitis-induced jaundice. Only after protracted hospital stays, some of which I even remember, and sure, it was hard on my mother, but it's harder to summon sympathy for her these days.

I go through the motions. I call her twice a week. I called her last week after she called Melinda a fat idiot and swing her cane at Melinda, but I told you that, so we won't go into it again. This is about her power. She has a little over my sister still, which secretly makes me glad I'm the second-born. Not named Katherine. I only got the tail-end, the Ann part of her name, less guilt, less responsibility. I got ignored, which who knew was the greatest blessing she could have given me. She always told me I had a cold-heart. I absolutely agree, and frankly, I'm pretty happy about it. 

So--powerless? Bitch can't even admit she's wrong. Not about anything. She won't apologize to Melinda, she won't stop calling the country club, even though they rescinded her membership a few months ago; she won't even admit that the firm she calls her attorneys have taken out a restraining order against her to stop her trying to sue everyone in town.

No, she is never wrong. Although when she told me about Melinda coming onto her property and saying she had the surveillance records, I corrected her. "You mean the surveyor's records," I said.
"I said exactly what I mean," she said.
"No. Surveillance is when someone is watching and recording your movements. You mean a surveyor."

She paused. Then she went on, but she was unsure for a heartbeat. Score. I had lived up to my reputation for being cold-hearted, taking gratification from correcting an old drunk woman with dementia. I considered feeling guilty for a second; then I remembered she'd tried to decapitate Melinda and perpetuated countless villainies on Kathy.

I admit I am powerless when it comes to accepting the heinous nature of the devil-woman who spawned me or, what would be more Christian, trying to alleviate some of her self-induced misery. But I guess I come by it honestly. I'm cool with it.

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