26 August 2005

Grudge memory

The day started to derail early, but I felt too on top of things to notice. Mom started telling me about the furnace guy coming. I interrupted because I already knew and had a plan for moving my boxes which are currently in the way. I leaned back in my chair with my best "I've got it covered" look. But it wasn't the plan she had in mind. Hers meant doing things today, right now-she would concede a few minutes if necessary. It would've been better if I conceded then, but I suggested she use the free closet space for her stuff since it would be here more permanently. She brushed the whole thing off. I said I'd be down in a couple minutes to move boxes, trying to concede, but the damage was done.

I thought she went back to the basement, but she hadn't. She was sitting in the dining room with my father having lunch. I leaned against the entryway to see if she was going to jump up and show me what she'd had in mind, but she was no longer gung-ho. They'd been talking about their earliest memories a few hours before, and the conversation had cropped up again.

"I have a grudge memory," she said.

"Oh, really? I never would've guessed," Dad and I teased.

She continued, "I still vividly recall a Sunday when my sister was supposed to read me the funnies, but she didn't. It must've been before I could read. She went out or something, and she never did do it even when she got home."

"And you give me a hard time saying, 'That's all you remember?' when I say stuff like that about you," I blurted out. I couldn't stop myself because she acts like some of the memories I recount are grudges, a tally of wrongdoings by her, when they aren't; it's just how I remember them. At worst, my intent is only to tease. I just have trouble remembering that for the most part, she doesn't take teasing well though she gives it mercilessly. This "grudge memory" concession of hers seemed like a great opportunity to vindicate myself.

Again, I was missing the bigger picture: Mom's mood.

Dad was putting stuff away in the kitchen while Mom threw clothes in the dryer on the other side of the room. Triumphantly, I laughed and said, "It's karma. You still remember your sister didn't read you the comics, and now I remember stuff about you." She kept transferring clothes from the washer to dryer. I still felt right. I mean if anybody taught me to more readily remember the negative, it was her. Pointing such things out, however, is a perfect way to get the cold shoulder the rest of the day.

She walked out without saying anything, and I knew I'd blown it. With her, apologizing to nip it in the bud never feels successful, and it didn't feel useful to try after the grudge memory talk. Besides, I'd meant everything I said.

We didn't cross paths again until later this afternoon. In an effort to regain some cordial ground, I made a dinner suggestion choosing what I believe is her favorite restaurant.

"I thought you didn't like Jimmy's," she stated.

"I like it fine," I countered. For fuck's sake, does no one pay any attention to what I say? I just don't always feel like driving the 45 minutes to get there.

We got the waitress my parents have known for quite a while, so she helped to lighten the mood a bit. After we'd eaten, the waitress asked if we'd like coffee. This decision often hinges on my patience because I don't drink coffee, but my parents were both waffling for other reasons. "Would you like some coffee?" my Dad asked of Mom.

"I'm having an 'I don't care' sort of day," she answered.

I looked at the waitress and said, "Bring them coffee." Dad and I split a slice of French silk pie, but Mom wouldn't have any.

On the way home, Dad asked if she wanted to stop to get lottery tickets. "No, I'm not getting out," she muttered. "But if someone else wants to..."

I offered to do it and did, but still no chink in the armor. I was glad there was plenty on tv to keep me distracted once we got home.

Grudge indeed.


  1. I pride myself on being able to have a tiff, spat, disagreement or whatever; and then quickly get past it.

    Nothing is more annoying than a Grudge.

  2. Good for you. I do reasonably well, but being able to recount conversations verbatim does not always help my efforts. Actually, in the last few years my memory has become less all-encompassing, and I think this is a good thing.

    It's only the stuff that's still unresolved that resurfaces on occasion.

  3. I pride myself on exacting my revenge to relieve grudges.


    Claire, I have had this same conversation about a million times with my mom. Anything that I recall as being painful or "traumatic," she likes to blow off with, "Well, what about when I taught you to ride a bike?!"

    Yeah, that makes up for the constant mood swings and bullying.

    Her new thing is listening to Dr. Laura on the radio and telling me to "Get Over" things. Love it. Repress, repress, repress!

  4. lol. "Get over it" is probably my least favorite phrase, but my mom uses it too, often when I am trying to open up and explain why I have trouble with something.

    Most the time though, these memories of mine are not meant at all to disparage her choices as a parent. She doesn't see any humor in them and takes it too seriously. Whatever.

    I just try to remember hormones and chemistry are influencing her perceptions, and do my best to give her some slack while reading her moods as best I can.