Friday, August 24, 2007

Ask Me No Questions and I'll Tell You No Lies

I'm thinking about lying to my mother. I imagine most people have lied to their parents at some point or another and I'm no exception, but this is different. This isn't an innocent "I'm going to the mall with my girlfriends" when I'm actually meeting a boy kind of lie. The lie I'm considering has meaning, connection, guilt and ulterior motives. It might even be an ugly lie.

I told a friend of mine that I was considering telling my mom this lie and she helped me come up with a great justification. Since the lie starts with the phrase "I dreamed..." and most dreams are unconscious, I may actually have dreamt it. Maybe what I dreamed only revisited my consciousness later and is actually a memory rather than an idea. That resonates with me because I find the boundary so unclear between memories, ideas, daydreams, dreams and everyday reality.

My mom doesn't take very good care of herself. She lives 3,000 miles away from me and caretakes for the remainder of the family there, including 3 (relatively) able bodied young men, their 5-6 miscellaneous children, a random woman friend who lived with us in my youth and lives with us again, my grandmother and to a lesser extent her brother, sister and extended family. She takes pretty good care of them, even though she has a chronic cough, intense physical pain, emotional grief and needs to rest.

I have spoken to her often about her need to rest, to recovery, to take some time for herself. I appreciate that she's helpful to the people around her, but I feel that it has become a parasitic relationship and in her less guarded moments, she agrees with me. So I've considered telling her that her dead husband (my father) came to me in a dream telling me to move her to my locality and take care of her. I don't know if she'll listen to this any more than she listens to me in any other way, but this is the most powerful phrasing in my family culture since 1/6/06: dad would have wanted.

It's unfair, probably hurtful and possibly unlikely to achieve results since she has built herself into a hole with grandma, my brother and her house guest living in the house she was supposed to sell this summer, but just maybe... I probably won't do it. Lying is wrong, after all. But I want better for my mom. I want her to have a better life. I want her to last long enough so that I can take care of her. I'm afraid she's going to burn her candle out taking care of other people. I'm afraid she'll never be able to live long enough or near enough to babysit my fat brown babies or teach them to sneak buckeyes out of the fridge when mom's not looking or rock my daughter the first time some boy breaks her heart.

It seems like this is what dictatorship is - determining what is best for someone else without their consent, but if it will help me keep my mom around in a healthy and happy state, I'll use whatever tools are at my disposal, including lies, but who knows? Maybe it was really a memory or a dream and not just an idea.

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