Every time I open my mouth, out comes my mother

On Saturday, I made a comment on the big, blue social media site about how I knew that I would pay, in one way or another, for The Male Sibling Unit’s generosity in staying home that day to help me with housework. Normally, he has an abbreviated day at his community center, Steps. He offered to give it up to assist me because he knew I might let him run the hardwood floor steamer, which he finds fascinating. I did, and he was thrilled.

I was correct, as per usual, about paying for it, inasmuch as he had an ulterior motive. He was wonderfully helpful, a fact he has seen fit to remind me of on an hourly basis ever since. Toward the end of the day, I simply acknowledged his sacrifice and thanked him. By the end of the evening, I was contemplating buying a bag of generic, gold medals to hand out to him for every “sacrifice” he makes because that truly is a motivator.

Yesterday, it was beginning to get a little old. I mentioned – again on that big, blue social media site – that I heard my mother every time I answered him, which was really, fucking irritating, and resulted in me falling into a pretty dark hole, before sleep last night. I missed her pretty intensely. The six year anniversary of that last sunset with her is drawing near and I had assumed the sadness was pretty much gone. It isn’t. I fell asleep with the memory of holding her hand as she took her last breaths and was jarred awake momentarily in a panic because I couldn’t remember if I kissed her. After reassuring myself that, of course, I must have, I fell into a deep sleep. I awoke in a funk.

A recent sunset my daughter captured that reminds me of the night my mother died.

Funks are nothing new; I exist, sharing an uneasy residency with depression in this body, and we go to Funkytown frequently. Depression is such a generous roommate, you see; it spreads the misery 365 days out of the year. Despite the pills and the “be gentle with yourself” messages and the optimistic phrases I repeat to myself, willing them to become mantras, they never really stick. The coexistence is uneasy at best. I might have known, though, because with the worries I have on my plate right now, my roommate has been seeing an “in” and raiding the refrigerator to eat my shit (that was MY FUCKING LEFTOVER PIZZA, BITCH!) and wearing my clothes without asking. You’d think I would have figured out these dirty tricks by now, but I’ll be fucked if I can find a truly foolproof alarm to signal the breech. And so it goes.

This new trip to low-down Funkytown has made me wonder what The Male Sibling Unit actually feels; does he also “hear” our mom when he goads me into flipping out? Does he do it to elicit just such a response? Maybe the reaction he receives, which causes my blood pressure to rise and my voice to take on an ominous, rapier edge, is actually as comforting to him as it is irritating to me. I used to hate how she would fly off the handle at every, single, thing he said, and I pride myself on the fact that I have always had a much higher reservoir of patience with his compulsory chatter. When he pushes me up to and over that edge, it feels like failure to me instead of a comfort. Until today, when I had that thought, I always thought he probably hated it, too. Maybe he pokes me because this is how he gets “his” mom – the one who bellowed, shrieked, and told him to get the hell out of her face while simultaneously buying him all his comfort food and washing his blanket and planning outings for him and chuckling as she called him pet names “Horse’s Ass” and “You shitass” – back for a brief, shrill moment.

Anyway, today we are back to normal, and it is a Steps day, which means he stayed up too late, got up too early, got all his morning chores done, and was chomping at the bit for noon to arrive so he could call the center to ask, “What’s for dinner?” (he already knows it’s leftovers from their Thursday picnic but he compulsively has to ask) and advise them he’ll be there – a fact they recorded Friday, the last time he was there. We’ve already gone through the day’s bullet points:

* Should he eat leftovers for lunch today?

* Should he take another shower tonight because it’s hot and humid?

And

* What am I going to do while he is gone?

The latter resulted in Mom emerging yet again, and I think that’s exactly how he wanted his Monday to go.

Glad I could oblige.

One of the last photos my mother took of The Male Sibling Unit on her phone.
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