To get your day going. But that’s exactly what awaited me after a rather depressing office meeting yesterday. It was news to me that my crazy mama was even taking her yearly vacation at the Nut House, but it didn’t come as a surprise. It WAS a pleasant surprise that one of her therapists actually wanted to talk to me. I’ve long suspected that mama is less than honest with the people charged with helping her. The conversation ended up focusing on my sister’s death. Mama is, understandably, more upset around holidays where my sister is concerned. The therapist asked me if I minded sharing with her the circumstances regarding her passing. I retold the story of how she was in a car accident, on a particularly curvy mountain road, hit some black ice, and slid off the hillside to a tree below.
“So she wasn’t murdered?”
“Oh, geez, is she back to that?”
“She relayed to me that your sister’s fiance had cut the brake lines to the car and was currently serving a life sentence for that crime.”
I set the doctor straight. This whole story, which I’d heard before, doesn’t even stand the test of common sense. Even if said fiance hadn’t had a rock solid alibi–he was in jail on a drug charge at the time!–the story isn’t at all plausible. The stretch of road the accident occurred on is notoriously bad in winter, and my sister had driven several hundred miles away to visit friends somewhat last minute. There’s no possible way the brakes worked fine on a four hour drive only to fail in a hairpin curve coated in ice.
The therapist, attempting to ascertain what sort of support system mom had, told me a few key things. First, that mom doesn’t like going to family functions because “everyone acts as if nothing ever happened.” Now, I’m not exactly sure what she expects here, perhaps that we should all adorn our Christmas trees with ornaments bearing my sister’s likeness? Or join hands in a circle every holiday and chant her name? What mom really means, to those of us who know her, is that at family functions she isn’t the center of attention so she would just as soon not come because she thinks it makes more of an impression if she doesn’t. (And she usually doesn’t–always faking an illness hours before any planned event, it’s a running joke whether she will come down with a mysterious migraine or pretend to have diahrea.) While all of the family has urged mom to get a grip on the condition of her house, even offered numerous times to help, mom translated this to the therapist as “no one understands, they want me to get rid of any sign she was ever around” I explained to the therapist that mom’s house was like something out of “Buried Alive”–that there are quite literally rooms you can’t even walk into, and that mom insists on clinging to things that have nothing at all to do with my sister (dozens upon dozens of angel figurines, bottles of shampoo, boxes of cereal).
The truth of the matter is, mom is an attention whore. She feels that the world in general owes her something and that she isn’t required to give it anything in return. And while I’ve no doubt that her grief is real (though I suspect a good bit of it is GUILT because she was a terrible mother to my sister), it’s really just her latest means of working the system, getting the pity she so desperately craves, and excusing her own behavior.
The therapist told me she was going to confront mom about the imaginary murder. She gave me her phone number and urged me to call her back if I could think of anything else. Boy did I. I took notes, even. But, my call went unanswered, and I suspect Mom, having been called out on her bullshit, simply checked herself out of the hospital.