Page 39 - WTP Vol. VIII #3
P. 39

Good trip? I asked my next passenger while plying her suitcase into the trunk. She gave me a wan smile and climbed in and I had the feeling that her journey had not been a success. She directed me to a leafy part of town and as I set off her phone chimed and she silenced it. The ballet of leaving the airport then took all my attention and cutting an angle through traffic I made the inner access road before merging with the exiting volume of cars. I asked if she’d like music and she said no before changing her mind. Only if it’s something soothing, she said. After I dialed in the softest tune on my playlist, asking if it was alright, she began to cry.
She had lost her mother and was returning from her
“Busy with our daily lives, we had lost
touch with what had brought us together in the first place, the tenets of understanding slipping their moorings, our relationship drifting apart.”
funeral. Several years previously I was in the same position and I commiserated with what she was going through, dealing with the sudden absence of someone precious in ones life. She said it was unex- pected and had not been foreseen by her mother’s doctor as she’d always been in perfect health. Here and gone like she never existed. There was no history of stroke in the family to cause any worry, she said, so it’s hard to grasp. I still have to go back and deal with her things. When, I don’t know.
Give yourself time, I suggested, slotting myself into the role of confessor that those in my line of work occasionally find themselves in, like the barkeep, barber, or anyone who comes in contact with the public. People have a need to unburden themselves if for no other reason than to clarify things in their own thoughts and deal with the situation they’re in. We often deny loss until we go through the quagmire of conflicting emotions and finally come to accept it.
I told her of my own plight after I put off for too long
the task of sorting out mother’s affairs, along with the physical aspects and legal ramifications therein. When family members are involved it can turn into a battle, which in my case it was. Possessions can eas- ily come between you and those closest to you, the higher their value the greater the fight. My sister felt she had the right to commandeer certain pieces of furniture, collected artwork, jewelry and photograph albums she assumed I cared nothing about. Guys don’t want to be weighed down by these things, she told me, which provoked me to say that we should divide things evenly based upon our relationship to each item. There was a principle of cooperation that now if ever had to be adhered to. If our mother had left a will then all of this would have been moot. But that’s not what we faced.
So, in effect, I said to my passenger, you can find your- self in the position of suffering a double or even triple loss. The loss of a parent, cherished objects that surrounded you while growing up, or the chance that a wedge may come between you and your sibling, which points to the fact that people can be selfish when it comes to possessions.
True, she agreed, and getting more so. She had col- lected herself and now continued, We’re conditioned from birth to want, to possess what others don’t have in order to make us feel better about ourselves. And in some cases, if we don’t get what we want, legalities come into play. She went on to say that her brother hadn’t always tried to defeat her in their small com- petitions while growing up, but when their biological father had died in testate, Steven went to extremes
to win what he thought of as a personal war between them. He hired a lawyer to strategize and present a case of ownership of all material goods based upon the fact that he was first born and deserved unlimited choice over everything. You think you know someone, she said, and they turn into your worst enemy. I’d always fought hard to get out of his shadow, she went on, which is what I had to do with my ex-husband, and here I am doing it again. The case between my husband and me dragged on for years, and I’m afraid of the same thing happening now. It just seems like failure keeps returning to me. She paused before be- coming emotional again. I can’t lose to him, she said in a quavering voice, or to anyone else. Because if I do it’ll be the end of me.
You’ll be fine, I told her as we climbed into the hills. Stay positive and calm. You’re right in not letting yourself be pushed around. The unexpected, like your mother passing, sometimes looks like the
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