Today I had the unsettling experience of feeling a sense of relief and a little bit bad all at once when I realized that moving away from my current island home to go back to where my mother stays, may not be as easy as everyone anticipated. I love my mother. She is one of the most courageous, resourceful, and calm-under-fire people I have ever known. She has passed some wonderful qualities to me, including the ability to see a glimmer of light in even the most hopeless and/or frightening of situations which, at various times in my life, has come in very handy indeed.
But we also remain chalk-and-cheese in many respects as far as our personalities go. This is particularly noticeable in matters of household affairs where I have inherited my Dad’s laidback approach ( “ The dust bunnies are relatively tame and so long as they only grow to a certain size, don’t worry too much about ‘em” ) and Mum is, well, Mum is a house-proud control freak. Most of the time I forget where the iron lives day-to-day: Mum can recall the day it was purchased, where it was purchased from, and often the name of the salesgirl who sold it to her. I find this trait in her bewildering but vaguely amusing. She finds my lack of household skills/care disappointing at best and little short of scandalous at worst. We can laugh about this so long as we don't have to live with the results of one another's differing household approaches.
Mum's physical health is failing. She has carers and home helps, and a few friends who help out, but there are some matters to which she would prefer to trust a family member - and that would be moi. There are always a host of problems associated with caring for an elderly, physically frail relative, no matter how much you love and respect them, and just one of those can be the clash of ideals. For two very different people from two very different generations - the one of whom is years used to looking after the other, to being a mother to them with everything which that role entails - to suddenly switch roles can be a traumatic experience for both. Mum is clinging to what control she has left; clinging to it with a grim and strident determination which sadly and seriously is coming to more and more lack the humorously tempering input of my Dad, who is almost 20 years dead now. Where once the rougher edges of Mum’s insistence that everything be done ‘her-way-or-take-the-highway’ could be smoothed out by some gentle teasing and cajoling from Dad, those rough edges have now hardened into sharp, cutting, deadly barbs that will snag the wary and unwary alike and tear them to shreds. What was once a minor discordant note in her nature has become a major symphony of clashing, jarring noise, and I don’t think I could stand to listen to it for a prolonged period ( okay, I went a bit OTT with the similes and whathaveyous there - I’m a writer, for fuck’s sake, sometimes I take artistic license wherever I want to find it ). Well, not without taking a longing look at the sharpest knives in the kitchen. Probably whilst secretly swigging from a bottle of Captain Morgan, or maybe Grey Goose would be better since vodka has less scent and Mum has a nose like a fucking bloodhound when it comes to sniffing out alcohol on a person. It is for good reason that Mum and I get along better when we have a considerable geographical distance between our lives and homes. If I gave my space up now, I would also - very realistically - be giving up the pleasures of my life as they are. And I like my pleasures as they are. Put it this way, I don’t see myself swapping ‘em for knitting patterns and ‘Coronation Street’.
Also, there is an equally realistic business opportunity for Housemate and I right here on the island. It may take several months, perhaps a full year even, to bring to fruition, but it could well provide us both with a nice little nest-egg for our own golden years, and in the meantime it’s something which we’d thoroughly enjoy doing. If we left the island to return to the place where my mother ( and Housemate’s remaining family ) live, we could kiss that opportunity goodbye. Unfortunately, they live in a place where socio-economic deprivation has reached such a state as would’ve shocked even Charles Dickens in his day. A snowball would stand a better chance in Hades than we would of making our business fly there.
Perhaps it is selfish of me to even look at it this way, but I can’t help thinking how it has taken me nearly 42 years to reach the point in my life where I could feasibly set this business up and run it successfully, and well, fuck me, but the thought of having to let that opportunity go just kills me. Even if it were for my mother. Nonetheless, when the one option which would’ve caused this to happen was effectively removed from the table today, I felt that sense of relief. Followed by feeling bad for being relieved. All of which bothers me, even though people have assured me that feeling this way is pretty damned normal and it doesn't make me a monster.
Given that I also have inherited my mother’s ability to find ways either around or out of a problem, I daresay I shall eventually come up with a solution to this dilemma which suits the needs and wants of all. Or die trying, as they say. Well, maybe not that - but I may get very drunk on Grey Goose before it’s all done and dusted!