Tonight my mother is in a hospital bed a few hundred miles away. She is in very bad shape, and the prognosis is poor. Faced with the facts, I believe it’s unlikely she’ll leave the hospital alive.
If you couldn’t tell, I have a complicated relationship with her. From the beginning she pawned me off on whichever family member would take me–usually one of her sisters–so she could go off with some man.
At a very early age I became convinced that she didn’t love me. Years later I came to realize that she loved me, in her way, but she loved herself more. That was a hard truth for a young girl, but harder still was admitting to myself that would never change.
Many of my friends and family have heard the story of her joining the carnival and abandoning me when I was twelve. What they haven’t heard is that she abandoned me over and over, sometimes to be with different men, sometimes it was booze, a lot of the time it was drugs. I didn’t know where she was or if she was coming back until she’d turn up, broke, hungover, tail between her legs.
In a way it was good when she was gone because I was safe from her. I was also safe from the men she drug in.
Anyway, ten years ago during a clean and sober moment she made a living will. In her living will she lists me as her medical surrogate–the person who should make decisions for her in the event that she cannot. I do not want to do this. I certainly do not feel as if I owe her this. She was never a mother to me. Still, I will do this for her. I will be the responsible one and I will make the hard choices.
I know she had her reasons for wanting me to be the one. I’m just not sure what they were.