Sunday, March 20, 2011
If she could have some kind of choice in all of this she'd make a far different one, but it wasn't up to her. It was, as always, up to the power in the family. The power that lay with their two brothers.
She and Rosie had nothing to say, you live with this for long enough and there's no point in fighting it, you give up. Jasper and Gordon made all the decisions, and had since they graduated from university. It was then that Mother had the stroke and chose an unfortunate time to have it. There was Daddy, proud as punch with his twin boys on each arm, both in their mortar boards and gowns getting the photos taken.
“Just me and the boys now, now, no, we don't need none of the girls in this one, right fellows? Stand back there Molly and take a whole pile of pictures!”
And she did, of course. She and Rosie were always the wallpaper to the events in the family. They were older but seniority meant nothing. Not when you came from Clifden, Connemara in 1951. And then as she, Molly, was following Daddy's instructions, Mother slid to the perfect green grass of the University of Galway grounds and lay there as if dead. Daddy was exasperated, came storming over, muttering “ah, gwan outta dat, gwan outta dat,” taking it all as a personal affront to the enjoyment of his day, his pride in his sons. She was the one to race over to the phonebox at the edge of the quad and call 999, as her mother lay there all grey and still.
Her own marriage didn't take in any sense of the word, her husband took off after a few years calling her barren on top of being frigid, so after Mother's stroke she moved back in with Daddy, it was as if she was never away. Mother had been mildly useless even before the stroke, went around mute most of the time so even though the stroke had taken away her speech along with the right side of her body, it was all more of the same old. Rosie's marriage had taken, in spite of Daddy making what he called a ball-hopper of an after-dinner speech at the wedding telling his new son-in-law to watch out as the girls in his family had some bad habits that couldn't keep husbands and it was a shame he was again wasting his, Daddy's money, on this one. Molly thought she'd die as Cormac had left her only the month before and she was still sore from it all. It seemed to her that in the whoops of laughter that went up and the banging of the glasses on the table that everyone was looking at her and mocking her.
Mother was like a doll, so light and airy it was easy to take care of her. She'd always been delicate, and had spent a lot of her time in bed when they were growing up. It wasn't like she ever had a personality that was submerged after the stroke. It wasn't like you could miss her.
So when Daddy keeled over dead with the heart attack on top of his Sunday roast a year later, it was a huge shock. The boys came down from Dublin, it seemed like the will made provision for them as joint executors with an amount set aside for their deemed incompetent mother. Deemed incompetent was the word used alongside the word wife throughout the will. She wondered why she and Rosie had showed up in the solicitor's office at all. The boys just made their choice as if she didn't exist, she wasn't even given the patronizing courtesy of an opinion.
“We'll sell the house, of course,” said one of the twins, “And put Mother in a home or in the hospital.”
She had made a habit of talking to Mother every night over the evening meal since Daddy died and now showed her the will and what the twins were about to do, sell the house and fob her, Mother, off into a home. She said to her mother she didn't know what to do with herself now, she'd like to stay, maybe make a B&B out of the big old house and of course Mother would be guaranteed a home with her till the day she died.
Her mother's reaction was violent, everything dormant within her seemed to explode, her head bobbed up and down, her mouth frothed, her good leg banged on the floor and she made a writing gesture with her good left arm and laboriously wrote out the solicitor's name but with an adjective that made Molly laugh: Bloody. She didn't think Mother had it in her.
When Bloody Declan Kielly showed up at the house the following Monday, mother had her notes all ready for him. She demanded a medical assessment of her competence, and said she was ready to inherit her dead husband's estate and well she had earned it. Also she was prepared to write a will in the event of her own death. It all took a few weeks but she was deemed fully competent and stated to be compos mentis by a court appointed psychiatrist who had never met her before.
Her will was drawn up wherein she left two thirds of the estate to her daughter Molly and one third to her married daughter Rosie and absolutely zero to her twin sons, whom she said in black and white in her statement that was attached to the will, had already inherited all of the privileges inherent to their gender and none of the compassion and kindness of their sisters.
She insisted on taking therapy and within a few months there was a remarkable improvement in her communication skills and in her mobility.
She lived for another twenty years, taking enormous pleasure in greeting and registering the tourists who flocked to the now famous B&B: "Molly's Mother's".