FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Shifts, Displacements, And Slouching Beasts

Jeez, I thought a suitcase and backpack would accommodate all that remained once I’d liberated my stuff, liberating myself. Yet I still have too much—in a storage unit and in my room at Laura and Erma’s house. We, the Sisterhood, are together, temporarily. They’ve provided a launch pad for whatever adventures I actually implement.

Two weeks ago, I said goodbye to the condo. Laura and I carried the staples of my life and loaded them into the back of her Lesbaru. Once at their place, I surveyed what they’d assigned: the cabinet shelves they’d emptied to make room for my toothbrush, toothpaste, vitamins, lotions, shampoo, those items whose location effortlessly can be identified when they’ve occupied a particular place for months.

Suddenly, I thought about my mother and father, moving to Laura and Erma’s for their final years—different circumstances but with similarities. Daddy wasn’t as affected. He was sharp, conversational, yet his near-blindness made him oblivious to a specific address. But Mother, oh, Mother. We didn’t understand, didn’t anticipate that she’d feel anything but gratitude and relief that she’d have help with Daddy. They’d lived in their house 50 years, raised the four of us there. She said 401 W. Maple contained all her memories. And not only memories but also the familiar.

She must have felt disoriented, unmoored.

“What have I done?” As I lay in bed, this was my question, just as it must have been Mother’s in 2007. “What have I done?” And it would have been more extreme for her. Because that was IT, the IT at that point defined as until death us do part. Sure, there was the assisted-living option but living with Laura and Erma was an invitation too loving to refuse. And totally life-altering. We didn’t consider this at the time. I don’t know if it required taking the step I’ve just made to glimpse what the upheaval did to Mother. But I’m reminded that period during widowhood when I advised obsessively, directing friends to appreciate every moment, to stop bitching about minutia, the toilet seat left raised—stupid, meaningless, pathetic waste-of-precious-time nitpickiness. Eventually I abandoned the role of preparing people for an event that’s like an amputation, one for which there is no preparation.

If you’re saying, “First-world problems,” I don’t disagree. Mother’s new address and mine are examples of shifts. But they are insignificant compared to tragic displacements: refugees and immigrants forced by the savagery of war or persecution to leave their homes and often their countries to flee to safety, carrying whatever they have time to grab while holding the hand of a child. Terrified of the known, terrified of the unknown, situations encompassing the unimaginable, separation from a child or children, separation from a spouse, death of a child or spouse.

My intent though is to convey a small, personal experience that provided insight into a late-life issue, an issue we didn’t understand.

Last week, Laura and I drove to KY. I hadn’t been there since Mother’s death in 2011. We went to Camp Nelson National Cemetery where some of Mother and Daddy’s cremains are buried. And we drove past that stately Georgian Colonial that once brimmed with Mother’s memories, a house where now another family is creating theirs.
People say I resemble my mother. And as I sit with Laura and Erma in their living room and read a book while they’re watching a basketball game, I tell them I’ve become her.

I think of my mother so much. Remark to Laura and Erma about how she’d react to today’s political scene. To Hillary Clinton, the strident, war-enamored, endorsed-by-the-vile-Henry-Kissinger Hillary, the it-takes-a-village Hillary, the Hillary whose intent is and has been to take OUT villages. Mother would be repulsed. And she’d be just as revolted by Trump. Both Hillary and Donald represent the bloody, go-for-the-jugular viciousness that pervades U.S. culture and U.S. imperialism. My father often said we choose the politicians we deserve. Indeed. And some “rough beast, its hour come round at last,” is slouching towards the White House.

More articles by:

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com

Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
Howard Lisnoff
How James Comey Became the Strange New Hero of the Liberals
William Blum
Anti-Empire Report: Unseen Persons
Lawrence Davidson
Missiles Over Damascus
Patrick Cockburn
The Plight of the Yazidi of Afrin
Pete Dolack
Fooled again? Trump Trade Policy Elevates Corporate Power
Stan Cox
For Climate Mobilization, Look to 1960s Vietnam Before Turning to 1940s America
William Hawes
Global Weirding
Dan Glazebrook
World War is Still in the Cards
Nick Pemberton
In Defense of Cardi B: Beyond Bourgeois PC Culture
Ishmael Reed
Hollywood’s Last Days?
Peter Certo
There Was Nothing Humanitarian About Our Strikes on Syria
Dean Baker
China’s “Currency Devaluation Game”
Ann Garrison
Why Don’t We All Vote to Commit International Crimes?
LEJ Rachell
The Baddest Black Power Artist You Never Heard Of
Lawrence Ware
All Hell Broke Out in Oklahoma
Franklin Lamb
Tehran’s Syria: Lebanon Colonization Project is Collapsing
Donny Swanson
Janus v. AFSCME: What’s It All About?
Will Podmore
Brexit and the Windrush Britons
Brian Saady
Boehner’s Marijuana Lobbying is Symptomatic of Special-Interest Problem
Julian Vigo
Google’s Delisting and Censorship of Information
Patrick Walker
Political Dynamite: Poor People’s Campaign and the Movement for a People’s Party
Fred Gardner
Medical Board to MDs: Emphasize Dangers of Marijuana
Rob Seimetz
We Must Stand In Solidarity With Eric Reid
Missy Comley Beattie
Remembering Barbara Bush
Wim Laven
Teaching Peace in a Time of Hate
Thomas Knapp
Freedom is Winning in the Encryption Arms Race
Mir Alikhan
There Won’t be Peace in Afghanistan Until There’s Peace in Kashmir
Robert Koehler
Playing War in Syria
Tamara Pearson
US Shootings: Gun Industry Killing More People Overseas
John Feffer
Trump’s Trade War is About Trump Not China
Morris Pearl
Why the Census Shouldn’t Ask About Citizenship
Ralph Nader
Bill Curry on the Move against Public Corruption
Josh Hoxie
Five Tax Myths Debunked
Leslie Mullin
Democratic Space in Adverse Times: Milestone at Haiti’s University of the Aristide Foundation
Louis Proyect
Syria and Neo-McCarthyism
Dean Baker
Finance 202 Meets Economics 101
Abel Cohen
Forget Gun Control, Try Bullet Control
Robert Fantina
“Damascus Time:” An Iranian Movie
David Yearsley
Bach and Taxes
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail