I am 44. She is 87.
We are living in Sherman Oaks. She has been with us for 7 years and probably will be till the end. I realize I am a co-dependent. She hovers over my son and doesn’t fully approve that we’re raising an atheist. I write morning pages of introspection and manifestations. She loves the Hallmark Channel and watches mass on TV. I sweep the floor everyday to get rid of dog hair and dust. She accumulates so much junk in her bedroom, the cleaning lady can’t get in to vacuum the carpets. I want my house back.
She hoards knick-knacks and…stress. I surreptitiously set up for her to move to my sister’s house and out of mine. She keeps her back to me, makes oatmeal and says “I don’t like. Not till December.” I say “It’s September, what will be different in December?” She says “Or maybe not till January.” I want to scream “I need my space,” instead I nervously stutter, “He’s 12 now, he needs his space.” She completely softens her tone. I see her entire body relax. She says “Oh okay, October then.” I feel guilt and relief…and guilt that I feel relief. She moves out by the weekend.
I am 36, she is 80.
She has developed epilepsy. I move her into my house. She takes the guest room. I haven’t renovated the garage for her as I said we would. She cooks a lot of Filipino food. I eat a lot of Filipino food. She teaches my son how to play chess and tells my husband stories of passing communiques during the war. I pretend to be working in the next room, but really I’m eavesdropping. She makes up songs and sings them full voice in the kitchen. I am so happy she thinks doing the dishes is therapeutic.
I am 32, she is 75.
I have been in labor for 3 days. She’s hoping I’ll hold out for one more so I’ll deliver on her birthday. I’m pissed off that I fell for all that hypno-birthing crap and ask for an epidural. She prays the rosary in the hallway. I am cut open and given a son. She has a hard time pronouncing his Celtic name. I say “It means little dark one, it’s Kieran.” She says it sounds like a Japanese beer.
I am hit with postpartum depression. She brings me toast every morning before his first feeding. I am a stickler for schedules. She changes his diaper every 30 minutes. I let him cry it out. She cries with him.
I do mindfulness exercises with him swaddled in my arms. She teaches him “Close, Open. Close, Open.” She has to leave for the Philippines for my uncle’s birthday. I cry quietly in the car after dropping her off at the airport.
I am 21, she is 63.
We are living in Glendale. She finds an empty box of condoms underneath my bed. I lie and say I used them as balloons for my best friend’s birthday gift. She ignores that they are lubricated and ribbed for her pleasure. I find an apartment and tell her I am finally moving out on my own. She won’t speak to me. I feel like I’ve asked for a divorce. She can’t believe I chose Silverlake of all places to live.
I am 16, she is 59.
We are living in Silverlake. His name was Freddy. She learned that. He did it from behind. She couldn’t give a clear description of his face. He had a knife to her throat. She didn’t think he would actually use it. He couldn’t come. She smelled the liquor on his breath. He said I was next. She said just do it all to me. He laughed when he heard her praying out loud and told her prayers were useless. She said she was praying for his forgiveness. He cried and told her his mother died. She taught him the words. They prayed together. I slept soundly in the next room.
I am 9, she is 52.
We are visiting my sister in Hawaii. She has a palpitation attack. I go into savior mode. She lays on the floor, unable to move, heart racing, arms shaking. I call 911 as I have before. She says she has to go to the bathroom, Number 2. I ease down her pants and place paper plates underneath her, a roll of toilet paper ready to clean her up. She is embarrassed. I can smell it, so I turn and stare at the water stains on her brown Bally leather lace-up oxfords.
I am 7, she is 50.
She is wearing her brand new brown Bally leather lace-up oxfords, as she sits watching me swim in the kiddie pool at my aunt’s condo. I don’t know how to swim. She is nervous and annoyed because I insisted. I get pulled towards the deep end and panic, unable to get to the shallow, call out her name. She jumps in fully clothed. I’m embarrassed. She has ruined her new shoes.
I am about to turn 3, she is 46.
I am still being nursed and have no qualms about grabbing her breasts for comfort, in public. She doesn’t mind. I announce on the eve of my birthday that this would be my last night of nursing. She laughs and doesn’t believe me. I stay true to my word. She doesn’t stop offering me her breast for another 6 months.
She is 43.
She is living in Hollywood. She watches me come out of her through a mirror tinted blue that removes the reflection of blood. She cannot look away. She has given birth 8 times before but has never watched it actually happen. She sees that I’m covered in white stuff and is worried it’s because she had sex last night. She has given birth to what she will later call her menopause baby. She knows she will have a hard time letting go of this one.