Chapter 2: Mom

My mother moved permanently to Florida when my oldest daughter was eleven. She then turned around and eloped with her best friend’s son-in-law, an emigree from the Ukraine. It’s a long and complicated story, and thoroughly depressing. Her friends called her “the merry widow” after my father died in 1984. She traveled. She went to parties. But the second marriage put a halt on all that.

I remember asking her why she felt so obligated to the new guy. I thought she married him on account of him needing a green card. Let him hang out at the condo, get on a plane, and go spend a month in Santa Rosa. She shrugged and mumbled something, maybe I don’t know. A distant, dramatic kind of reaction to the question that hinted at a darker secret. There are just some places daughters can’t go.

By the time 2013 rolled around, they’d been divorced for a few years already. Mom’s weight topped 230 pounds and her days were spent mostly in her bedroom, spinning in her easy chair from her stack of mail lying on the bed to the collection of pills stacked on a small rotating taboret. She had a very nice Polish woman looking after her. A portable potty stood in the corner of a room decorated in what my second child, Ted, referred to as Japanese whorehouse. Black laquered and mirrored. Both the easy chair and the electric bed would figure in her demise in 2016, but for now, in this most horrible of years, she was alive.

I know I must have called her after Andrew’s visit. I always called after the kids’ visits because there was something to talk about besides her reaction to whatever the latest news happened to be on the Russian News station which played 24/7 in her room.

How exactly she responded to the news of the engagement, I don’t remember. She never dwelled on such things. More often than not, they acted as a prompt for an old memory to bubble to the surface. I’m assuming this is what happened. Maybe the story about how her wedding night was spent in a little apartment in Frankfurt with thirty other people because no one could go home after the celebration on account of the curfew.

You know if you don’t write some things down when they happen, they might as well have never happened at all.