God, this coffee’s rank. I feel like a bit of a shit for walking out of the wake but you know what? I don’t fucking care. For years she ruined everything for me - playdates cancelled ‘because I said so’, school discos missed ‘because I said so’, hot dates denied ‘because I said so’ and why? Because she fucking said so. That was her ‘go to’ when she had no other reason for making my life miserable. When I was a kid I believed her when she’d say she was only looking out for me but I soon saw the truth. You know you get to that age, that bloody frustrating age when you’re old enough to rationalise and argue your point but ultimately you’re still a child and have to do as you’re told? I’ll tell you, if being a bitch was an Olympic sport my mother would win gold. And, lucky me, I was an only child. Dad fucked off when I was ten. Can’t blame him. He’d had enough and the local barmaid, Liz, was warm and caring and fun and normal. I loved spending time with her and dad. But mostly it was just me and mum for about a decade. Me, mum and ‘because I said so’.
My salvation came in the form of my husband. I was and still am so fucking grateful to him for bringing colour into my otherwise grey world. It used to be colour, my world, but after so many times of hearing “I’m going to shoot myself, then you’ll be happy” (she never would, she didn’t even have a gun for fuck’s sake) or “I’ll cut all my hair off and be as ugly as you” (fine, whatever) and her favourite “I’m in a hotel and I’ve taken an overdose” (she never did and I always found her courtesy of 1571). Do you know what really hurt though? Her ability to lull me into a false sense of security time and time again and then wallop! She’d do or say something to make me so pissing anxious I’d feel like my guts were being squeezed out of my arsehole. I’ll give you an example. My wedding day. It was a beautiful day. Everything went right, no disasters. Mum and dad were there and were civil to each other. I was, like lots of brides, blissfully happy. It was at the reception, just before our first dance, that my husband revealed to everyone that he would be whisking me away for a romantic honeymoon in Tuscany. Couldn’t get much better, eh? By nine o’clock mum decided that she was tired and was going home. In the hotel foyer, while we waited for mum’s taxi, my husband and I said goodbye, I remember it well. You’ll see why. I hugged mum and was thanking her for a lovely day, all the usual stuff, when a car pulled up and the driver leaned out of the window calling ‘taxi!’. Mum turned to go, stopped, turned back to me and said, “I didn’t bring your present with me and I know you’re going on honeymoon tomorrow so you can have it when you come home.” Still on a high I was blabbering things like “Oh, you shouldn’t have,” when my mother smiled, that rictus grin I knew so fucking well burning into my eyeballs, and said, “Yes, dear. When you come home you’ll find my body in the bath.”
Anyway, time creeps on for us all doesn’t it? Mum grew older, began to have little accidents. At first it was enough for me to pop in to see her after work, not that she was ever grateful of course. But even with reassurance from my angel husband that she’d be okay for one night without a visit, I couldn’t not go. That would be the one time that something had happened and although the woman had bleached love and colour from my life with her, she was still my mother. It was when her accidents became not so little that the problems began. I’d already moved heavy kitchenware, saucepans and plates onto the worktops to prevent her from trying to lift them out of the cupboards but she still managed to find things to do that resulted in an accident. I wonder if, in the back of my mind I was being so health and safety conscious because I didn’t want to be nursing her and her broken hip? Well, it didn’t really work out for me because in the space of six months mum had dropped the kettle and broken her foot, had a dizzy spell and blacked her eye on a door frame, suffered third degree burns trying to take roast potatoes out of the oven, was taken to A&E for stitches to her head when she had fallen in her greenhouse and finally had dislocated her shoulder tripping up the stairs. As kind as my husband was he wasn’t frightened to tell me what needed to be said and this time it was that my mother should come and live with us.
Christ, the air was blue that day. I lost count of the times the words ‘absolutely no fucking way’ passed my lips. I ended up in bed with a migraine, I was that stressed. But, I knew my husband was right. I also knew that my mother would fight tooth and nail against me. Of course, I was fucking right. You would think that I would have been used to her manipulative ways but, like many people in that situation, I was still taken by surprise by her. I remember the day I went to her house determined to get through to her once and for all. The first shock was how pleasant she was. She agreed that she wasn’t safe on her own any longer. I sat there with my mouth hanging open. I double checked that she understood what I was suggesting, moving in with me and my husband but bugger me, she smiled and nodded agreeing that it would be for the best. I stood up, relief flooding through me and told mum that I would be back the following day so that we could thrash out some details. Mum gently squeezed my arm and asked me what I’d be doing that evening. She smiled saying that my plans for a cup of tea and a bit of telly sounded nice. In retrospect this was the moment that changed my life. I asked my mother what she would be doing that evening and she fixed her pale blue eyes on me, the smile slowly melting off her face as she said that she was going to slit her wrists in the bath. No doubt you’ve seen films where the action is suddenly all slow-motion, well, that is what the next minute or so were like for me. I can’t say that my heart was thumping loudly in my ears, rather, I was conscious of the long time between heart beats. Then, everything sped up. I grabbed mum by the shoulders. I shook her and sat her forcefully in her armchair. She looked frightened. Looking back I’m not surprised. I was fury personified. I was so angry I was beyond shouting. I was still shaking her though. Eventually, I flung her away from me and through my panting breaths I pointed my finger at her and warned her, “I don’t fucking care what you do or what you say. I am not going to let you manipulate me any-fucking-more. You will be coming to live with us and do you know why? Because I fucking said so.” I turned and left her house, still shaking and suddenly completely exhausted.
And that just about brings me up to date. I found her the next day, still sat in her chair, heart attack I found out later. And it’s her wake I just walked out of. I just couldn’t listen to any more platitudinous fucking clap-trap. My husband is holding the fort for me while I get my head together again. The thing is, this is just a bad day isn’t it. From here on it gets better. Because I said so.
About the author
I'm an avid reader, writer and pianist. I have written on a variety of subjects and in various genres from children's stories, poetry and history to adult short stories. My three Skinny Pigs and I live by the sea, where I grew up.