The Most Important Things in Life Aren't Things

I just got off the phone with my mother, whom I have been talking to for the last hour and half. This is pretty typical; I'm sure that I could have hung on the phone with her for awhile longer. Honestly, she is used to speaking to me relatively frequently. Having said that, when I don't call her for two or three days, she tracks me down and asks me how things are.

I know she does this because she is lonely. She is the only occupant in an otherwise empty house, save for furniture and Ollie, my "psycho kitty." Her entire life has been devoted to my brother and I, so now that he has settled into an apartment and full-time job, and I am in college, she is...well, lost.

I certainly understand, and I appreciate hearing from her. My only annoyances are: one, that it may take up to half an hour to hang up the phone, even after repeatedly saying, "I need to go," and two, that I have nothing interesting to say. My mother isn't the type of overprotective, overbearing mother that always wants to know every nitty-gritty detail. When A. comes and visits, for instance, she only wants to make sure that I had a wonderful time. Anything I share beyond that is something she insists she "doesn't need to know." That's not to say she doesn't appreciate me talking to her, however.

I can say that I am, at least, somewhat disappointed that I am not going home for Thanksgiving. In an ideal situation, my brother would be there to celebrate this American feast-fest with us. However, my mother and I have found that Keith often sacrifices his time with us to be with his girlfriend's family; and, admittedly, this is becoming increasingly upsetting for us. My mother, unfortunately, has never had a holiday to herself. When Keith and I were younger, we always had to be shipped off to my dad's house to celebrate Thanksgiving, Easter, and Christmas, which was always on Christmas Eve, and not subject to negotiation. The same goes for Thanksgiving and Easter.

I feel sorry for her, and I feel incredibly guilty about the fact that I am, once again, not going to be home for this holiday. Though my mother claims that "it doesn't matter" that I will be in Indiana, I think it does. I think that, in a way, she is lying to be via the omission of underlying feelings. However, I know that--even if I were to go home this weekend--Keith would still not be there. He will, of course, be spending his time elsewhere.

I believe this led my mother to suggest spending Christmas in Indiana. "It always means so much to you," she said. "And I know this is your first Christmas with A., so maybe you could just go there for Christmas and spend the holiday there."

I nearly burst into tears; I was so surprised at what she was saying. Though she wishes for me to think over the idea, I know that I won't. As I told her repeatedly over the phone, "No. I'm coming home."

It is very frustrating. She doesn't need to sacrifice any more holidays. Sadly, however, my brother won't even be there on Christmas, either. He'll be with his girlfriend, of course. I don't think he realizes how much it hurts mom that she isn't able to spend the holidays with the two things she loves most.

The highlight of the conversation with my mother was towards the beginning, when she announced that she was "drugged up." Having recently gotten sick (via a cough inherited from her mother), my mom went out and spend some money on OTC drugs, not possessing enough to actually make a visit to the doctor's office.

As such, when she first answered the phone, my mom was quite drowsy and a little "out of it."

"Yeah, you sound pretty tired," I said. "I hope I didn't wake you up."

"No, no. You didn't do that. The cat keeps jumping on my chest anyway. I'm just really drowsy." With the upward inflection, I could picture her trying to widely open her eyes. "I really just shouldn't be driving any heavy machinery right now."

"Ah, yes. That would be bad." I nodded, despite the fact that she couldn't see me. "Well, don't drive the couch too far, then."

"Oh, I wouldn't do that. I've already been to hell and back with this stuff." She sniffed. "And once you've been to hell and back in heavy machinery, you're pretty pooped."

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