My Dinner With Rita
My Mom's name was Rita Meehan. I don't talk about her very much and I don't
think I've written about her since she died last year. Mrs. Silverman suggested that
perhaps it was time to talk about her here (actually I brought the subject up). So, for better or
worse a few random thoughts about Mom.
There are three things you need to know about Rita
Any two of those personality traits would have been
bearable. All three of them in the same person was
a disaster. Rita was a self righteous warrior of
God set adrift in a world of sin and horror. She
was convinced that President Clinton was possessed
by the Devil. She was also certain that "The Odd Couple"
was a show about two gay men, so my Sister and I were
barred from watching it.
- She was born again.
- She had a foul temper.
- Rita was always right.
Felix and Oscar as lovers is an image I find unpleasant
to this day.
Mom did not like having people in the house. My Sister and I
couldn't bring our friends inside. Well, she had friends, I had a friend and that ended
in fifth grade. Exit friendship until I turned 18. But that is another story.
Looking back, I realize Mom didn't like having Dad, my Sister and me in the
house either but she couldn't legitimately kick us out.
Religion, as you might guess, was big on her list of priorities.
She was going to heaven and the other three members of the family
were destined to burn in hell. A running sound track in my childhood
was WFME "Family Radio". It was the local Christian station. It was on all
day. Eventually we learned to tune it out.
I moved out for good in 1977. My Sister left in the late 1980s. Then it
was just Mom and Dad. Eventually, Dad lost his ability to drive and started showing
signs of Alzheimer's. That's when things got very sad. Dad was no longer able
to defend himself from Mom's temper. I'm not saying she hit him but she routinely
called him an idiot and a moron in front of me. You had to bite your tongue because
she'd just make him pay later if you complained.
My Sister tried to get Dad to move in with her but he'd have none of it. It was his duty
to stay. And so he did.
For most of her life Mom could appear very charming. People who met her had a hard time squaring
that nice woman with the foul tempered bitch I'd describe. Towards the end of her life she
lost that ability. She was not liked by the staff or the other patients in the nursing home.
You know, it was harder and harder to visit Mom and Dad at home towards the end.
There was an aura about the house of, well evil and despair. When Mom and Dad went in
the nursing home my Sister told me she was going to have a priest pray over the house. She
expected me to laugh but I agreed with her.
But it wasn't necessary. Whatever lurked in the house followed Mom.
Dad died in September of 2001. Mom didn't go to the funeral. Mom died in May of 2002.
My Sister saw her once after Dad's death, as did I. We only saw Rita as
often as we did for Dad's sake. Now there was no reason to put up
with her. Any reservoirs of good will had dried up a long time ago. When Mom died the funeral
was attended by My Sister and her husband, Mom's surviving Sister and her Sister's two
daughters, the creepy lady who was her only friend and me. There was no viewing.
One of Dad's great sorrows was that we weren't like a normal family. People
didn't come over and there were no family outings or such. His own family life was
pretty fucked and he wanted something better for his kids. He tried hard but it didn't
work out that way. Still, for what it's worth, Rita is a part of who I am today. I wouldn't
change it but lord it was rough growing up with her.
As you can guess, the bad memories outnumber the good ones. Mom died alone, unloved by her
two children. She had her good moments too but I don't regret not seeing her after
Dad's death. I mentioned that she begged off the funeral because she was in a wheel chair.
She did manage to make the nursing home's trip to Target a week before Dad died.
But let's not be too bitter. She was what she was. For my part, if there's peace
awaiting her soul, I'll not dispute or contest the judgment.