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“It’s good that you came, randomly,” Mom said.
“Why?” Jill asked.
“Because…” I said pointing to the boxes lining the two hallways leading from either side of the living room we were now standing in. It was then that I noticed that there was nothing on the walls while they had several bad paintings hung on them when I was here for Dad’s funeral. These were the kind of paintings you’d expect to see in cheap motels.
“You’re moving,” Jill said.
“You finally decided?” I asked.
“The only reason we stayed here as long as we did was because he was suffering. And as soon as that was all over I just wanted to go.”
“But why? This seems like a nice—a p-p-perfect house for you.”
“I hate it!” she said sitting down in one of two easy chairs facing the TV. The other chair was Dad’s. “Everything I see reminds me of him.”
“But don’t you want to remember Dad?”
“No!” she said with a level of bitterness in her voice that surprised me.
“Mom,” I said.
“Not the way he was for the last three-four years he was alive. I… saw him in a way that no loved one should ever see him. He died slowly and it really was not pleasant to watch. I was in denial until it hit me like a ton of bricks that he wasn’t going to make it. And you two? You two were off doing your own things. I didn’t want to bother you.”
“Mom, bother us with Dad dying? Why didn’t you ask for help?” I asked–shocked and scared she went through all of that alone without us really knowing what was going on.
“Because I didn’t want to share my suffering with you. Or his. It was really not good, not good.”
I sat down on the love seat facing the fire place. I remember Mom telling me when they first moved in to that house that they’d bought that love seat so they could cuddle and smooch. At the time I just didn’t believe her because I have very few memories of them ever seeming in love with each other. I was hopeful at the time because I wanted to believe my parents were actually happy together but they were not. I looked at the loveseat and it still looked brand new. I imagined that if I gave one of the cushions a good swat I’d send up a cloud of 4 years of dust.
“So selfish, you two. So selfish.”
“We, or at least, I thought you were OK. You both had this house, it had the extras to help Dad and you with his issues. Everything seemed fine when I would visit.”
“He was dying of cancer. Did you really need an invitation?”
“But I came. I just didn’t want to force myself on you. I know how you both like to do things your own ways.”
“We do, or we did, it’s true. But you still should have helped. I’m sorry but that’s true, too.”
“No, you’re right,” I said softly, wiping tears from my eyes.
“It’s a real shame, too, because we loved this house—three bedrooms so you and Jill could visit any time you wanted and even bring your husbands.” She said “husbands” while looking at me, making me feel like I was supposed to be please she accepted me as me.
The sad thing? I was.