following my mother into dingbat land

my mom is following her sister’s footsteps into what they imagine is a charming kookiness where they are oblivious to the pain and frustrations they cause. After all, they are having fun, why isn’t everyone else? They meant well, so why is everyone so angry?

they feel sanctified in their abstracted state as if they have found the door to the magic room where they are impervious not just to criticism but to error. They couldn’t possibly have caused a problem because they are so well intentioned.

I want to understand and be understanding, but like watching the village idiot shed their clothing and dance naked while shredding the petals from flowers you had so carefully cultivated, I feel only quiet horror and loss. It’s hard to encounter fieldtrippers on excursion from their institutionalized life, wandering in a group around Walmart or a museum. The slow speech and incurious eyes speak to a life lived elsewhere, and whether this is true of the intellectually disabled or not, the feeling is of observing minds shunted into a dimly lit room. All the senses, books, joys of the world might be in the room, but the feeling is that they will never know because the light’s too hard to see by.

How much harder, than, to see a once capable woman abandon herself to that dark hallway.

I’d like to blame Lyme disease, alcoholism, the aging brain, but I suspect the wall she is building is the only one left to keep the rest of us at bay. A wall, because whatever i have to offer as her daughter is still too fraught with the past, a world in which she is powerless before my dad and all men, a world in which kids take and never give, a world in which people ask things you can no longer provide, like being sober, or keeping your promises.


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