Prior to her mother moving in with her, Jen told Eileen, “I have everything I need so bring the minimum.” It was Jen’s way of telling her elderly mother, when you move into my home you will be a guest. This hadn’t stopped Eileen from renting a moving truck, which backed onto Jen’s driveway on a Saturday morning in June to vomit its contents into her garage. Box after box was carried from the truck, along with redundant pieces of furniture Jen had no place for, like a floral-print couch and a pair of bamboo side tables she remembered from her mother’s screened porch. She watched the movers stack everything in her once nearly empty garage, where she used to be able to park her car, until it was completely full.
“Really, Mom?” she asked Eileen later that afternoon, when the two women stood surveying the packed space from the driveway. “Why would you bring all this stuff when I asked you not to? Where am I supposed to park my car now? Do you have any idea how hard it is to find parking in this neighborhood?”
“Do you know how much I already gave away, Jen? So much. This is the important stuff. Things your grandmothers gave me, or aunts. I thought you’d want to look at it before I tossed it away.”
They spoke to each other in biting tones as familiar as their own teeth. Jen shook her head and wondered why she had extended the invitation to her widowed mother to move in with her. Yes, she had plenty of room in her house, but everything was exactly as she wanted it: minimalist with no clutter. Uncomplicated. Except what other choice did she have, as an only child? Her mother refused to move to an assisted living facility, but had reached an age when living on her own in her house wasn’t a good option either. Especially since she’d been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. What if she had an episode of her heart going into a-fib and no one was there to help her?
Continued in Confrontation 120, Fall 2016.