My dad died when I was eighteen. I remember how hard it was for her. She cried for several days non-stop until the day my dad was laid to rest. After the burial, anything that reminded her of my dad pushed her into tears. So I parked their photos somewhere she wouldn’t see but hiding the photos wasn’t enough to make her stop crying. No one cries forever so at some point she stopped and moved on. I should say two years after my dad’s death, I saw a complete change in my mother. She buried herself in her job and started buying new things for herself. She began dressing like a thirty-year-old girl who was looking for a date. I remember telling her one day, “You look beautiful mom.” She said, “Yeah I have to live again until I also die.
I was twenty-seven when I got married. I had to leave my mom and go live with my husband. She didn’t take it lightly at all. She looked at the house and said, “All this place for me alone? How can I survive that?” I told her, “Get a helper…someone who can keep you company.” She said, “What help would be better than living with my own daughter?” No matter what, I couldn’t continue living with her so I left to live with my husband.
I spoke to her every day and every night. I would ask about her day and how life was treating her. One day she said, “A man in my office is making passes at me and I don’t know how to respond.” I asked, “Is he not married?” She said, “He’s a divorcee.” I asked, “He’s a nice man?” She said, “He’s fine like wine.” I said, “So why don’t you give him a chance?” She said, “It’s been ten years since I saw a man in my life. I don’t know how to handle a new one. I feel guilty. Maybe your dad’s spirit would be disappointed that I’m cheating on him.” We laughed. I told her to be serious about it. I said, “You’re only fifty-two. You still look like a girl. Give someone a chance and let’s see.”
She told me she will try. A week later, she told me she had accepted the man and they were dating. She started missing my calls telling me she was busy. One day when I called, she told me, “Hey go talk to your husband and leave me alone. He’s here.” I was happy for her and was glad she could find a companion at last.” Four months later, she started calling me every morning, afternoon, and evening. I sensed something wasn’t ok. I asked about her boyfriend and she said, “That guy is a complete waste of time, let’s forget about him.” I asked, “What happened?” She answered, “He has a girlfriend already. He found me available and decided to pass through. I’m back to square one.”
From then on, I saw her trying. She would find someone today and the next day he was gone. As old as she was, her heart kept breaking each time they left her. I told her to slow down but she wouldn’t listen. She started getting busy on Facebook, talking to people she could mother. It felt awkward but then it made her happy so who was I to tell her anything. One day, I decided to visit her and spend the weekend. There was this look of awkwardness on her face when she saw me. She said, “Oh you are here already. I didn’t think you’ll be here so soon.” Then someone spoke from the bedroom. The voice of a guy; “Who’s here?” My mom replied, “My daughter.” Then this guy walked out of the bedroom to come and see me.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. He looked twenty-five or twenty-seven. I looked at my mom. She was smiling sheepishly. This guy wouldn’t shut up; “Oh this is your daughter? She’s as beautiful as you.” Silence. The guy asked me, “Can I offer you anything?” The way he talked, it looked as if he had been in the house for so long. My mom told him to excuse us. He did. I asked her, “Where from this one too.” She said, “When they all left me, he was the one who stayed with me.” I asked, “You mean you’re dating this boy?” She said, “He’s not a boy. He’s twenty-eight.” I said, “Mom, this guy can’t be twenty-eight. He’s barely your son.” She said, “Well, I have only one child and it isn’t this boy.”
I was so shocked I couldn’t contain myself. I told my mom, “I’m here for the weekend, can he excuse us? He can come around when I’m gone.” She said, “No he stays here. Find a way with him. Get acquainted. I’m not married to him so he’s not your dad. Loosen up.” So the guy stayed. All he did was move around the house, watch TV, go to the fridge for drinks and walk to the kitchen for food whenever he was hungry. I asked my mom, “So what work does he do?” She said, “He’s looking for a job. I’m pulling some strings, maybe he’ll get something doing very soon.” “Ah, so where did you find him? Who proposed to who? You mean this guy had the audacity to walk to you and say he loves you?”
I couldn’t wrap my head around the whole issue. Early morning around 6am, I was walking past my mother’s door to the kitchen when I heard some noise coming from her room. I stayed a while. All I heard was Kpa! Kpa! Kpa! Kpa! and my mom’s voice came through; Hmmmm….arrrhh…ouch…awwwww… I ran back to my room, shut the door, and called my husband. I told him, “You won’t believe what my mom is doing to herself. Can you imagine? She’s dating a boy who’s only twenty-eight years.” My husband laughed. I said, “I’m not joking so stop laughing.”
For the next twenty minutes or so, he listened while I ranted on everything that was bad about their relationship. He said, “Come back home if you can’t stand it. Your mother is not a child. She knows what’s good for her. Stop interfering in her life.” When I saw both of them walked out of the bedroom in a morning coat, I felt like throwing up. The guy walked to the fridge, picked a bottle of water, and drank the whole thing in one take. My mom greeted me and the guy also came to say hi. I told her I was leaving that afternoon. She said, “Alright. My greetings to your husband when you go.”
I felt abandoned. My mom didn’t even ask me why I’m leaving earlier than planned. It was as if she couldn’t wait for me to leave her house. I went inside, pick my bag, and left. I thought she was going to call me and say something to me. She watched as I walked out of the house. When I got home I cried. I cried in the arms of my husband. “How could my mom do that to me? She’s embarrassing me.” My husband said, “You have your life to live. Allow her to live hers.”
Two years later, they are still together. She has the boy on her Whatsapp profile. On Facebook, there’s a photo of them smiling and looking directly into the camera. I blocked her on Facebook and blocked her on Whatsapp. The guy is still not working and comfortably living off my mother. The last time I called her phone, it was the guy who picked. I asked him why he’s answering my mother’s phone and he said, “She gave me the right to answer her phone.” I told him, “Then not when I call. Stay off when you see my call.” He said, “Yes my daughter,” and then he laughed while handing the phone over to my mom. To make matters worse, my mom said, “It’s been over two years, learn to accept the fact and stop behaving like a spoilt child.”
Nothing would make me accord that guy any respect, even if they live together forever. He’s playing on my mom’s vulnerability and the fact that he’s not ready to find a job because he’s comfortable says it all.