She never got accustomed to the answering machine. There’d be ten or fifteen seconds of breathing, and then a request for me to call back. Occasionally a subject was mentioned. Once in awhile, a note of urgency, but without the benefit of context.
* * *
She most likely was looking forward to a well-earned lifetime with her husband when he up and lost his ability to function, sticking her with the need to figure out how to support herself and a little kid in a strange country while somehow planning for their future. While somehow getting all the paperwork right.
And it wasn’t as though she had no prior experience being the sole caretaker of a household. But she was probably hoping those days were long gone… when they suddenly returned. That must have felt horribly unfair.
I’d have been pretty angry about that in her place. I might even have taken that resentment out on everyone around me in my weaker moments, wearing it like armor, burning it to fuel my need to keep the bills paid, and keeping it lit to heat arguments full of non sequiturs.
I’d probably grow to be unpleasant and authoritarian with the rest of my family, carrying that anger around with me for years. I’d push friends away and have trouble making new ones. I’d have little patience for anything I didn’t understand.
I might sometimes wonder why my only child didn’t seem to like me very much, wondering only why I was being punished for having sacrificed so much of my own personal life.
Until the effort to live finally knocked the wind out of me, and being right became less important than having a peaceful day without something new to worry about.