One of the things that happens when families get together is shared stories about the past. It is a bonding process, I think, and a sorting-out process. It is as inevitable as a sunrise.
Because I live inside my head more often than not, most of the sorting-out took place (and will remain) in my head. When four completely different people who possess common genes, common experiences, but really only three personality traits – intelligence, humor, and creativity – share their perspectives, a weeding out process takes place. We weed out what we don’t need, what we don’t believe, what we don’t want.
The four of us have been together twice since MoC died – for her visitation and for the trip David and I took to Washington. During that first time, I heard two stories. The stories stuck with me in essence but the details fled. That happens because it is a defense mechanism that I have never been able to conquer, even though it is no longer needed. I forget. The details fade. It’s how I survived my childhood, by forgetting.
The first story was about my father. We were all there when he died. We were sitting around his bed and the nurse came in and was softly announcing his dropping blood pressure at 5 minute intervals until I wanted to scream. I remember that, and the song that was on the radio when I got in the car to go home that night, but not much else. I don’t remember when my father lost consciousness for the last time, if it was ten minutes before he died, or ten hours. I just don’t know. But my sisters both say that the last thing he said to my mother was “You are the most hateful person I have ever known.”
The MoC that you got to know through this blog over the past 6 years was not the same MoC I grew up with. Nor was she the same MoC who was in that hospital room 23 years ago.
And yet … I still disagree. I am positive that he said it. It sounds like something he would say – because, truly, he was the second most hateful person I have ever known. But what I know for a fact is that he was doped to the gills on morphine and he was hallucinating. I know because I was there when he was babbling about people I had never heard of, things that happened when he was a kid, talking to people who weren’t there and warning me that the walls were closing in. He was scared about that last part. So yes, I believe he said it. I do not believe he was talking to – or about – my mother.
When the subject came up a few weeks ago, it occurred to me that he was talking to/about his mother. Because she was the most hateful person I have ever known. I said nothing, though.
At some point during the week after the wake for MoC, MMB talked about bringing her home from the hospital for the first time. David, Leslie and I had moved everything from her apartment to the apartment directly beneath on the ground floor. MMB was impressed that we had everything almost exactly the way it had been. I wasn’t there when she came home, but MMB told me she asked MoC what she thought about her new digs. MoC had a large collection of teacups – mostly from England. In my wisdom, I didn’t take a picture of them before we took them down so we did our best to get them in the correct order. MoC’s comment was “Well, I probably would have turned the handles all the same way.” I don’t think I said anything to MMB at that time, but when it came up again a few weeks ago, I laughed and told her it was a joke.
MMB was appalled. She couldn’t believe that MoC would say something so trite and mean and critical after we had worked so hard to put it together for her. When I told her it was a joke, she said MoC was absolutely 100% serious. I let it go and said nothing else.
But in my heart, I know two things. My father was not referring to my mother. And my mother was not making a serious statement.
As I said, there is lots more that will remain in my brain.
People have different perspectives of the same situation. People have their own truths. That’s normal. I even think it’s healthy. I am happy with my own truth. It took me a hell of a long time to get here. Are you happy with yours?