Mother Talks to Elvis
My mother is eighty-six years old now with another birthday quickly approaching. It seems like only yesterday that she had beautiful dark hair, intelligent dark eyes, and could manipulate just about anyone she came in contact with just by flashing her wicked smile.
Like all women, she had moments when anger flared. She didn't stay angry long though. Something would make her laugh and once she started laughing she couldn't seem to stop. Her laughter was absolutely infectious. I watched her closely then, mostly trying to figure out what made her tick. I loved her and I hated her. I confided in her and I lied to her. She could appear not to care about anything in the world except her soap operas but would protect her children the way a lioness protects her cubs. Now I watch her closely again, but this time it is because her feet move slowly and she can no longer keep a train of thought for longer than a minute or two.
Mother once longed for the day when she could sit and relax without having to cook, or clean, or do anything at all she didn't want to do. She got her wish. She lives in her own little world now where there are no responsibilities and no worries. She talks to herself, she talks to her long dead mother, she talks to the cat, and she talks to Elvis.
She talks to Elvis about her past life when she was young, strong, and beautiful. He has been hanging directly behind her bed and he's heard just about every detail of her life from her loves to her losses. She mentions her children and she talks about her hopes for the future. I guess being eighty-six is not too old to think about going dancing, taking a trip, or practicing now to make sure the honeymoon goes smoothly later.
Today something went terribly wrong. Elvis apparently had the gall to show up with two of his "hoochie mama's." My mother looked at me, her eyes brightening, and informed me that she would not return to her room until that "no good b****** is out of there with them harlots." There was no way to convince her that Elvis died in 1977 and could not possibly be in her room. I did the only thing a good daughter could possibly do at a time like this. I walked into her room, said "BOOM" in a loud voice, and took the photo of Elvis down off of the wall.
"What happened in there?" She said forcefully.
"I shot Elvis, Mom. Just because he's a famous man does not mean he can treat my mother anyway he wants to treat her. He won't be giving you any more problems." Her eyes softened, her body relaxed, and she became silent except for the sound of her breathing.
I carried the tin type photo through the dining room where my mother was sitting and then took it through the kitchen and out the back door where I placed it in an outdoor storage shed. It joined a few mirrors that frighten her, a few photos of family members who refuse to talk to her, and two porcelain dolls that were aggravating her because "They just won't go to sleep and I'm tired of changing their diapers."
A chuckle found it's way to my lips at the same time tears were welling up in my eyes. Mom used to tell funny stories to anybody who would listen to them; neighbors, people in line at the grocery store, or just strangers she passed on the street. She has spent the last year or so talking mostly to Elvis and now he's gone. Who would she talk to now on those rare occasions that she wanted to talk at all?
I laughed as I thought of my mother years ago. She had entertained people by stretching her tongue out long enough to touch the tip of her nose. Our house often looked like a band of monkeys had used it to practice target shooting with dust balls but my mother would look past the mess and see the humor of the situation. Of all the things my mother has given me, the most important would have to be my sense of humor and it is surely serving me well during these trying days. She's going to miss Elvis. Maybe tomorrow I'll be able to bring him back into the house. Of course, she still has her laughing pig to keep her company if I can't bring Elvis back.
© Dianna Doles-Petry