I’ve been thinking for a while about writing a bit on Celeste, Luis’s mum. She’s 82 and lives in the souterrain at the guest house. When I say ‘lives’, it’s become more of an existence and an ordeal for all of us, including our kind and sympathetic friend Teresa who is always helping us with her when the going gets tough. I’ve watched Luis trying to keep her happy and gradually slipping off the precipice of intolerance as he realises that nothing he ever does will be good enough for her. It’s been a slow process and he has really done his best but she has become so impossible to satisfy that their relationship has broken down into one of duty and suffering which seems to have washed away affection. I’ve watched him try to lighten her life against her dark thoughts and know that he could not have done more because she simply doesn’t want to live; it’s as if she resents any one of us because we’re not Hermes, come to escort her to the underworld. I think she’d smile at him as she took his hand.
Then again, I am sympathetic to her. She has gone from being an energetic mother of three (single mother after her husband left her) to self-pitying dependence, trying desperately to shrug off the world that she sees as having abandoned her. Of God, she now never talks. Yet, she lives in paradise. Every day is a delight, every sunset a joy. She overlooks the sea and has our own version of meals on wheels. She’s not ill; she’s just old. Yes, arthritis, yes, pain in her bones, yes, difficulty in walking but it’s her focussing on her frailties that has driven her friends away. Time was when she would have visitors but she depresses them so much that they have stopped coming; all she can talk about is how ill she is; it’s her only subject of conversation. We’re trying to get her into a home; maybe next week…maybe next year….God only knows. What depresses me is that she has lived 82 years and everyone should be wanting to celebrate her life, yet she has driven us all to the point where we don’t like ourselves for what we’re thinking. She has succeeded in diminishing us all.
When my egg timer runs out, I’d like to go quickly, with a bang, not linger in a sad parody of life. Death is part of life; what a shame that it can’t be celebrated with the joy that remembers a life well lived.