Come back again, TIAs.

It was an onerous task and one I dreaded, the weekly visit to my mother in the nursing home, or the Senior Rehabilitation Center, to put a better-sounding spin on it.  It was draining to visit her.  Mother was a black hole of need; a Narcissist who never had enough stuff to prop her up in life, she lived through her possessions and not through her heart.

It was ever so galling to me, when, after years of impoverished struggle living independently, my ghetto townhome was foreclosed on, my business was bankrupted and closed, my boyfriend left me, and I had descended to a financial and mental bottom like never before,  my mother showed her true colors.

Always independent, I never ever wanted to have to move back to my childhood home. Ever.  I was a self starter, I had ambition and drive. Avoiding relying on my parents, or beholden to them was the major reason I risked everything and opened a business on my own.

When I hesitantly addressed my last ditched plan over the phone with her, of moving home, beaten and penniless, she only frantically replied,

“Don’t forget the border tiles! Be sure and bring back the border tiles!  Don’t leave the tiles behind, be sure you bring them back,” she was referring to the  antique clay garden tiles I had painstakingly placed in perfect alignment around my front and back yard flower beds.

“Huh?” I wondered silently. Hadn’t she given these to me? What is up with the tiles? Sure, I planned on bringing them with me. Why all the fuss? Is she imagining me thrown out onto the curb, evicted by the sheriff along with all my belongings in a pile?

Ah, the cherished border tiles. All the wealthy placed tiles around their flower beds. But these weren’t ordinary tiles, they were special. They had a mysterious past. They had been purchased from the dashing Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil’s star, Jim Williams, the Savannah antiques dealer. Somewhat a celebrity, even after death, mother assumed that anything from Jim William’s antique store was vital to her heritage and well being, too valuable to be left behind, these tiles had to come back to her at any cost. And what about little Cynthia’s wellbeing, well, it seemed not to matter. Not a word was said about my wellbeing, only the tiles were important to her. This wasn’t the first time her lack of affection hit me hard. There had been many other times she had shown me how little she really cared for me.

I was aghast at this lack of display for MY well being. She continued badgering me each conversation, about the damn border tiles. Never a word about how I was doing, coping with the biggest losses of my life.

Mother was afraid to feel her feelings. She had been shut down so long, there was no hope for her to be compassionate about as big a thing as one of her children losing a home, a business and her identity.

Over the past few months my best friend had been cautioning me about the sequence of events once the foreclosure was in process. I had had so much anxiety for two full years about this that I was  burnt out completely over the whole thing. My friend and neighbor, Jan, repeatedly warned me, again and again that once the process was begun, I had thirty days and only thirty days to get out completely. This was a serious step, sure, I know that. That was why I had worked on a damned mortgage refinance for three years, to no avail. I would run over to Jan’s to fax stacks of papers required for the application for HAMP or any of the latest mortgage scams that I thought would help me out. Every time it was down to the last point, they would call me and tell me something was missing from my application or something was outdated. Then when I would try to contact them, they wouldn’t take my call, or my case was on someone else’s desk, or they were out of the office or on vacation. I began to think that there was a code going on. On Mr. So and So’s desk meant my file was in the garbage. If they told me that my case worker was on vacation, that was code that they were going to wait until my application was outdated, and then turn it down. Repeatedly I was told by an idiot over the phone that the “application is simple to fill out and self explanatory.” Once they told me my application was wrong because I used a hyphen instead of a forward slash on a date. I remember starting to scream.

“I hope you are recording this, because for a hyphen instead of a slash mark to make any difference in an application’s date and whether it is accepted, the DIRECTIONS ARE NOT SELF EXPLANATORY!” I exclaimed as I became so agitated my chest began to hurt.

The things the mortgage company had done were clearly not ethical nor legal, and I had been given the run around for so long that I had no more energy to spare. I was beginning to be apathetic about it all.

“What is one more nervous breakdown?” I thought.

Let them have this hellhole surrounded by paroled criminals, I have had all I can bear.

Never will I forget the years that the drug traffic was at its height. Cars came and went constantly on the weekends when there was a fresh drug delivery.  Not only were the lowlife neighbors dealing drugs, selling fish at their Friday night fishfrys, but then came the craps game held outside the side of the townhome — on a sheet of plywood in broad daylight.  This was the height of audacity.

There were at least three convicted criminals who lived or squatted in my neighborhood. They all mowed yards and watched our every move. Rather than help me move out of this dangerous neighborhood, my father paid to have an alarm system installed. After gun fire was heard periodically, I reported that things had worsened.

When I told her of the recent neighborhood shootings along with a few more illegal incidents, my Mother got very agitated and said,

“You have to move out of there immediately! Whatever you have to do, rent a room, anything. Just get out of there, now!”

“How?” I asked. “I can’t afford to move.”

“You can’t afford to stay!” she nearly yelled.

“Well, how do you think I will be able to pay for a safer place? I need help,” I added.

“I will help you buy a place. You have to move, right now! Whatever it takes!”

“Really?” I asked. This was music to my ears. I couldn’t afford anything without assistance.

that the wealthy placed around their flower beds. They had been purchased from the dashing Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil true star, Jim Williams, the Savannah antique dealer. Somewhat a celebrity, even after death, mother assumed that anything from Jim William’s antique store was vital to her heritage and well being, not mine, you see.

I was aghast at this lack of display for MY well being. She continued badgering me each conversation, about the damn border tiles. Never a word about how I was doing, coping with the biggest losses of my life.

Mother was afraid to feel her feelings. She had been shut down so long, there was no hope for her to be compassionate about as big a thing as one of her children losing a home, a business and her identity.

I must confess, it will take a lot to erase that from my memory. I needed a motherly pat on the back, telling me that I would be OK, telling me I was welcome home, anything but THIS! She had surpassed being cold, this was downright cruel in my eyes.

Then came the job offer.

“Work for your father and I for $200 a week, 24/7 taking care of us.”

“You will get room and board (old fashioned speak for a place to sleep in a dark closet and some gruel to eat) ,” she said.

She’d been mentioning this idea of hers for about a year. I turned her down for several reasons:

No mention of holidays

Too much work for one person

Slavery is against the law nowadays

She was stunned that I didn’t take her job offer. What was holding me back? It must be a boyfriend, it couldn’t be that her offer was cheap and unfair? It had to be something wrong with Cynthia, not the offer. She thought it was magnanimous of her. Well, Cynthia didn’t have a family or a home, she is an “old Maid,” and ought to jump at the chance for a place to live with free food.

I was annoyed beyond belief at her outdated notions and passive abusive innuendos.

I could get a minimum wage work myself to death job anywhere. I had had a career for 33 years and this was outrageous. I knew that she wanted someone to be at her beck and call day and night. Well, let her hire someone and pay them a decent wage. Let her see how expensive it really was to have that sort of help. The days of the spinster taking care of the old folks at home were gone!

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