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Line of failed daughters | Work

“Talk to the microphone, love,” said the mother.

My father gave me a small microphone that connected directly to my mother’s hearing aids. I took a deep breath, stopped the rotation of vertigo, and then shook the back of my head in hopes of relieving the pain. What two of us are, I thought as my heart, in a new show of my own, was beating very fast. Both of us are different from the world we once knew. We all thought, we were scared and we were lonely. I certainly was. But my parents were English, and we never talked about difficult or unpleasant feelings unless they were forced to do so – and we were able to endure a lot of energy.

I checked my thoughts on the menu.

“Pesto with a penne,” I began.

My mother tilted her head, looking at a distant object, as the cats follow the light between the shadows.

In her younger years, my mother was fierce – digging fields, camping in the mountains, sleeping in her church to help the homeless who hid there. Growing up in London during the war gave him that-you-can-blow-but-we-still-go-dance. But now, among other things, he was deaf and blind at one time and I had returned to Michigan to have his eyes and ears closed. Or I waited.

Imitating my mother’s spirit, I traveled around the world, boxing, dancing until 4 a.m., teaching prisoners, marrying and divorcing a small rock band, living on the Lower East Side for 25 years, and teaching other challenges. neighbors, representing the needy. But now that I was back in Michigan, an acute head injury that had not been completely corrected ruined my life. I had broken pain, and vertigo, memory loss, day-to-day sleep, and so on. Suddenly, instead of coming to my mother’s house, I had to stay with my mother.

But my mother could not help me as much as I could.

Only 41 miles was between us – yet we could not reach each other unless my father drove the car. We were on the phone every day, each trying to dissuade someone, but I think I was offending someone too. Terrified by what was happening to me, I wanted a woman to find out more about the recent traumatic event and to talk to doctors on my behalf. Likewise, she wanted a girl who could take care of her food – who could bring a cup and a long chat, who could take her to buy and join her with makeup, to bring food since cooking was hard.

“I’m a bad girl,” I cried to my friends on the phone, as I stretched out on my purple bed, my mind racing with despair at the devastation that covered my brain. “Moms want me.”

[Jawahir Al Naimi/Al Jazeera]

This was an indisputable fact: He did.

I did this, but I also found out because he tells me so often.

“The church is selling out falsehood,” he may say. I have to choose clothes that are no longer fit. I wish you would come and help me. ”

Or: “My nails are broken and your dad won’t take me to Lisa this week. I wish you would drive me. ”

Or: “We’re going to visit David’s uncle and Aunt Zena tonight. It would be nice if you could agree with us. “His words are rich with passion and love.

I listened, my chest tightened, my stomach tightening, and I struggled to control my temper over the injustices I was experiencing. There was my mother waiting for me to recover so I could help her. And here I was, waiting for my cousin to take me to the store to store toilet paper as it was impossible for me to drive, or for my neighbor to take me to a doctor for help with my brain processes. .

“I’m sorry,” I said to my mother many times. “I wish I could do all this for you. And more. ”

“Oh, my dear,” she said, the visual disappointment gone. “Of course you do.”

And by this time, I knew that my mother loved me with a very deep forest. The love I asked for deserved it.

Then one day when he and my dad were gone, and I apologized for not being able to go home, my mother said, calmly, very lovingly, pressing my hand: “Don’t worry, dear. I even hurt my mom. ”

After my mother and father moved to London, they left their beloved mother. Within months after living in the United States, after a few letters and several phone calls, her mother died of a heart attack.

“I should not have left him,” she lamented repeatedly as I grew up, suffering the loss of her mother.

“Do you think that leaving England killed your mother?” Such thinking was strange in my young mind. The deadly power of a girl’s neglect.

“She needs me,” she said, circling the smoke on my head, her nails becoming very red. “She needed me, and I couldn’t.”

[Jawahir Al Naimi/Al Jazeera]

And here, finally, is the proof of my true truth: I was a girl whom my mother loved but not who loved.

I redefined my efforts to heal, put more energy into my body, and sent my growing anxiety to try to speed up what my doctors just seemed to recommend to me: health. And I changed. Eventually the pain subsided, vertigo subsided, and I began to sleep for more than three hours each night. But the nerves that I see in the world and how the wet weather developed my brain remained stable and driving was difficult.

In difficult times, I sent cards every day with my mother’s special wishes. Good days, I love going to my parents. Once there, through my vast, heavy brain, I opted for Chanel No. 1 dresses. 5 makeup, and making sure her makeup matched her skin, I adjusted her makeup box so she could find things by touch, I tried to compose interesting stories of my troubled life, and listen to her stories – all of which she adorned to hide her grief and kept the truth.

When it was time for me to leave, my mother stood nearby so that she could see the other side of my face. His hearing aids rumbled. Her eyes were thankful.

“I was just as happy as a mother with a healthy baby,” she says. “Thank you, my dear.”

“Come back anytime,” said my father cheerfully, just as a father would to a daughter who jumps out of a car.

I was relieved to find that I had been helped, but I already felt the pressure go through my heart to do it again. And can I? The inability to take action on a regular basis the love I felt hurt me.

After my mother died many years later, my health continued to decline, but driving was difficult. During those final weeks, we made her bed in my parents’ dining room, and my family and I alternated between shifts of 24 hours. My friends offered to drive me when I could not. Then I realized that I could either allow my mistakes to separate me from the pressing needs of my mother, or I could wrap my arms around her and put her in a cage until it was time for me to be alone. I chose the latter. When I got home, I bathed mothers, cooked eggs for them, rubbed their feet, read their stories, danced with them in their favorite chair, and listened to their thoughts on their tragic death.

One day before I went home, I kissed her good-bye and said, “I’m leaving now. But I will carry you in my heart. ”

His eyes widened.

“I too will carry you in my heart,” he said excitedly. Then he paused. Then: “Are you my son?”

These were drugs to speak of, of course. But it hurt when I put a blanket over her shoulder, and then I closed the curtains.

[Jawahir Al Naimi/Al Jazeera]

And yet, on a different day, here is something my mom said to me, washing her hair from my face, her nails with a perfect French manicure: “I’m so glad you’re my daughter. I can’t change anything about you.

In the end, I was the one who found my mother. I woke up my father, prayed for him, then washed his body, anointed him with oil while my father called my friends and relatives. When I was alone with her, in the middle of the morning, I washed her pale, pale hands and picked up her flower nightie – which I had helped her to go shopping for a few months ago – to wash her legs, I felt. the tip around the nest was untied and I braced myself to break my slow repentance.

But it did not come.

Instead, a flood of love fell upon me – for me and my mother: we were all trying hard. I did not stop my mother. I may not have been able to give her everything she needed and wanted, but what kind of mother could always be all things? If I were healthy, would I meet all of her needs? Oh my dear, she repeated to the woman who now lives inside me – and at last the words became clear: I’m glad you are my daughter.

Sometimes, under extreme pressure, there is an unexpected pardon. Sweet and terrible forgiveness removes all that came in its place and replaces grace. And when I combed my mother’s sleeping hair one last time, I felt our line of failed daughters end; I felt our pain rising.

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