This Is What Happened After - Linda Kunnath

This is what happened after I finally told my Mother off, after 33 years of letting her bully and criticize and hammer away at me for not listening to her, for not taking her seriously, for not calling her, for not being what she couldn’t be herself and causing her to fail all over again. The day she came in, upset that her car had stalled on her and upset when she found out she had a leak in the gas pipe and she described her ordeal word by word, and sentence by sentence, as if the world itself was caving in and not just her gas pipe. I listened to her calmly, working my hand holding a dishrag across the kitchen’s red glossy ceramic tile counter and said, “Well, I guess you will have to take the car into a mechanic tomorrow.”

With that her face turned beet red and she stammered and sputtered out obscenities at me. How could I be so callous, so insensitive to not understand all she had gone through? Why was I acting so arrogantly? Why was I speaking to her in that tone of voice? Who did I think I was anyway? With that, I had had enough and I shouted at her to stop swearing at me and, since she was now staying at my house, I pointed at the guest room and commanded her to go to her room and to go now!

The tide had shifted and she was on my turf now and I had shifted too, mouthing words I could not know were inside of me. I then took the dirty rag, threw it into the metal sink and walked out of the room and went and sat down in the living room.

Moments later I could hear her whistling softly and sensing her presence, Iooked over my shoulder to see she was sitting in the dining room, leafing though a magazine. She sat as calmly as if she were in the lobby of a dentists office, waiting for me as a little girl, while I was getting a cavity filled. She titled her head looking at the glossy colored photos of Jacqueline Kennedy, remarking upon how beautiful she was and did I know that it was Jackie Kennedy who first created the rose garden at the White House?