108 / 365 – Forgotten

CHRISTINE PAULSEN

I’m worried about my mother. I’ve called a few times lately to see if she’d like to come down here, see her granddaughter. She always sounds drunk. She says, “I don’t know what we’re doing the next few weekends.” I say, “Well, do you have a calendar? Look at your calendar.” She says, “I don’t have it in front of me.” I’m thinking, “Well, can you get up off your ass and look at it?” I don’t say that, of course. It would hurt her feelings and I’d be hearing about it for years. And her feelings are hurt beyond repair for the rest of her life. I get it, I guess. I can’t imagine what I would do if anything happened to my daughter.

As usual, my brother is clueless. I asked him about this and he said, “I don’t know. I’ve been working a lot of night shifts at the Uptown. She’s always asleep by the time I get home.” Who is he kidding? What is he doing at night? It’s not like there’s anything to do in that town at night. That guy has had so many chances, so many doors opened for him. And he manages to stumble through every one of them, or slam them in his own face.

My mother’s definitely been worse lately. I’ll be talking about the baby and all of a sudden she’s talking about Ben. She came down here last summer, right after Ally was born. It was summer vacation, so she could stay awhile. She was with us three or four weeks — I don’t remember that time all that clearly, actually. It seemed like a good distraction for her. Since then, though, it’s like she’s stuck at home. Ever since Finn came home from Chicago. Maybe she’s worried about him. Over Christmas, over spring break, I keep saying, “Why don’t you come down here and stay with us again?” And she says, all distracted, “I can’t. There’s too much to do here.” Like what? She always sounds a little drunk when she says it.

Everyone seems lost in the past. I think that’s why Finn is back there. Why would you give up a good job, after you spent all that time working in school, to go back to that little town and cook burgers and scrambled eggs? And it’s a crime, because when I talk to him, he doesn’t seem to be thinking of his brother, just his dead friends. Maybe that’s why my mother has gotten so crazy lately about Ben. Because Finn seems to have forgotten him. But everybody’s caught up with the dead. Sometimes I feel like screaming at them, “Hey! I know people have died, people have always died. Meanwhile, life goes on, and there’s new life here. You have a new granddaughter, a new niece. How about caring about the family you still have? About life up ahead?” But it’s no use talking.

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