If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to write a definitive ‘postscript’ to the Unauthorized Liography of April. As it was with Michael and Liz, I’ll explore how the absence of John and Elly in their children’s lives makes for a pleasant experience tempered with the bog-standard musing about tragic wastes of human life.
As I write this, I do so in the knowledge that it’s been four years almost to the day when Mother’s Day gained a new, depressing but pretty much inevitable new meaning. This, of course, is because it has been four years since “Doomed Attempt To Reconcile With My Parents Number 145” became “hurriedly phoning first responders upon discovering dead and/or dying parents.” How odd it is that May has such importance for us in general and Mother’s Day in particular. I remember Mom complaining bitterly that Mike gave her the very awful present of “airing our dirty laundry in public” ten years ago today when he, as Colonel Potter from MASH would have put it, decided to have his attic fumigated by seeking out a real-life Sidney Freedman to work out why he was so clingy and needy and desperately immature for so long. As expected, this got on Mom’s last nerve because, as she simpered, “those quacks always blame the mother for everything.” As also expected, the therapist was right to do so owing to her being way too messed up to be able to care for herself, let alone three kids.
It has also been eight years and three days since Liz gave her another ‘nasty’ surprise: getting the Hell out of a toxic marriage while she still had some dignity and pride left. This bugged the Hell out of Mom because if she had to endure her own self-inflicted Hell with her own dreary, entitled-to-have-you idiot who saw her as a sort of talking animal to be saved from herself, Liz jolly well had to as well in order to make her poooooor mother not admit that she’d made a colossal blunder not immediately calling Campus Security and having them extract a nerdy jerk from her chair. It has also been six years ago since Mom and Dad and their beloved Anthony had what little public credibility they had shredded in the very public venue of a custody hearing. This, as I explained to you before, is why it was I spent the last two years of my life on the outs with the two of them. Not only did her negligence as regards my near-drowning become a point of law, something the man I called Dad (not that the growling adjunct of a train set could be called a father) didn’t know came out in the wash: while his affair with Irene MacAulay had no more immediate result than a woman having a lousy time in the sack, Mom’s dalliance with Ted resulted in the “princess” he still thinks he raised: me. Bad enough that Anthony was exposed as a lying sack of bastard without her being ‘permanently’ humiliated by something no one in town cared about because her ‘friends’ were in Arizona trying to forget they knew her.
This, of course, led to me to do something Mike and Liz warned me was futile, silly and damaging: trying to patch things up with someone they described as being a stranger to me. According to them. Grandpa Jim was the only parent I actually had and that I should honour his memory because he, unlike Mom, knew who we all were. Remember how on the big three-oh that Mike said that Mom was just another bystander in the bedroom hanging out with the pizza guy when the magic happened? Looking back, I can see that he’s got something of a point. She never even tried to raise us or get to know us. She tried to raise the sitcom characters she thought we were. This leads me to why I made the effort: trying to reach out to an unhappy stranger to try to bring a little light into her life is a worthy deed now matter how futile.
As for the day itself, Jeff and I had brunch at his mom’s place. So odd and weird and wrong that having a quiet, pleasant time in which no anvils are going to smash down is so unexpected and unsettling. Ah, well. Such is life growing up Patterson.