Yesterday was my mother’s ninetieth birthday. I did not ring her. I did not want to spoil her day. I sent her flowers and chocolates instead and did not sign it. In fact, I gave the florist specific instructions not to indicate who sent it. I did not want to spoil her day.
There was only a brief time in our lives together that my mother has welcomed my presence at all. It was after my father’s death and I thought for a while she wanted a daughter and for a short while I felt as if she wanted me around. She must have been incredibly lonely. My youngest brother her favourite child was furious I think, that we were getting on and she talked continually about this and that being like that. I wondered at the time why she could not be a mother to three children at once, instead of one at a time. When she would sit with me, she had to run down my brother in Queensland and his wife who I do not mind at all. She was constantly comparing them to the ‘angel’ of us all who resides in the USA with an American blond tank with a crew cut and abrasive manner. Put her on the front line of the American troops and believe me there would be no Afghanistan or Iraqi war. They would be cowering in their fox holes. Put her in a diplomatic mission to Iran and President Whatshisface with the mad eye twitch and he would never touch an atomic bomb again because she would break his fingers, slice them up and sell them to KFC where they would marinate them and sell them off as chicken nuggets a la Iranian spice. We wish.
My mother and I have a long history that goes back to my difficult birth. I was a dry birth, so she was always fond of telling me. Her waters broke before the birth. She said I took two days to emerge and then only with the help of doctor’s forceps. My face was quite bruised and crushed. The first thing I did was eat heartily. She said I was a glutton par excellence. I thought babies were supposed to only think about eating, farting, excreting and sleeping. But according to my mother, apparently not. They should hold intellectual debates in High German (because they speak High German in Austria where she comes from. None of this plebeian country dialect that they must speak in the valleys and back alleys of Berlin and Hamburg.) They should also have natural table manners and apparently I lacked those too, along with a lot of other desirable traits.
I offended her by looking like the Kirby side of the family, my father’s mother’s family. They are bog Irish and red headed. Short on temper and eccentric. But of course, the Austrians are not eccentric; they only lock their daughters up in cellars and have children by them and that apparently is ok. They also produced a vile little man with a moustache and a gigantic inferiority complex who started a megalomaniac movement that tried to wipe out Jews, Gypsies, Croats, people with birth disorders, homosexuals, differing political views and Down’s Syndrome. But then, they are highly civilised, intellectuals who are organised, can knit, save money and produced Freud who was incidentally a Jew. When I would try and tell her this, she would say ‘No, no, no. You must have it wrong. He was an Austrian German.' Strange concept that one.
Anyway my childhood was spent with her bemoaning the fact that I was not as beautiful nor as intelligent nor as elegant as her. In rebellion at this rejection by her, I became a tomboy and was very close to my grandmother while I tried to figure out why my mother never liked me. It is quite frightening really when you understand that the person who gave birth to you, really does not like you.
I do hope she had a good birthday and is happy in the knowledge that she has finally gotten rid of me. It does not pay to get too concerned about her as when I ring she only gets upset, so I no longer do. It is safer for both of us.
I am sure the family will have done something, but they will have excluded me as usual. It goes without saying. Should I care? I am not going to beg them. I used to try and include them but they did not want and that is that. Sometimes I do care and other times I am too busy with the struggle of living to really care about her taunts and vicious statements calculated to offend me yet time and time again.