I admit I had an idea for a thoroughly depressing entry when I was writing this, but I was interrupted by my mother.
The story would have gone like this:
What a disastrous Christmas is lying in the wings. It started well enough: I drove a gift to Lonnie Leukins. Ninety-six years old, she invited me in. Slightly torn, I eventually decided to go chat with her for a bit.
My mom is always stunned by Lonnie, who though close to a century old has perfect mental clarity, never repeats herself, and seldom forgets. I attempted to enter the conversation occasionally, but she simply pretended not to hear me and skipped to another topic, whether it be her children, or their children, or any generation below that, or the Iraq war (she opposed it), or WWI (she was too young to have an opinion), or the book of Revelations, or the new minister, or my grandmother's sciatica, or my great aunt's house, or music, singing, piano, or trips to the barber, or pneumonia, or getting up and down the stairs, or hospitals, or ungrateful husbands who joined a cult and went to California (does this start to resemble a Ginsberg poem?), or how happy one can be for a life.
After an hour, I cut her off and excused myself, first making a date to take her to the optometrist in a few days.
That woman has lived my lifetime four times over.
Marnie and Ed joined us for dinner. But things aren't so smooth. A brother's having trouble with a girlfriend. And mom arrived home from the evening church service, sat down next to me, and lamented how horrible she felt to look out on the congregation and see all the families together in the pews, with her being all alone.
"Mom," said I, "Richard, David, and I believe what we believe. We didn't choose those beliefs to hurt you, and if we could believe otherwise so as to make you happy. But we can't."
It came out in a patient tone, as dry as it sounds, and she walked away without a word. I vented to Richard, we vented to each other. "I will not be emotionally guilted into believing something."
I start my depressing entry, which would be punctuated by the admission that--as I have no money--I didn't buy anyone gifts this year.
But Mom came down, interrupted me, and there we sat, her, Richard and I, talking for a couple of hours, about all manner of happy things. Relatives past, jokes heard, things I can't remember, Mom drinking cognac, me drinking water, Richard with a Corona.
And, when it was done, everything was right.
At times my family drives me mad, and at times I love them until my heart breaks.