The Mansion©

By Jerry D. Haight

Charley’s Mom  

In the next frame, Charley saw his mom in her comfortable tan chair in front of her large roll top desk. It brought back so many memories. He thought of the time around the first of December when the leg of her old desk broke causing it to crash to the floor. She asked Charley to fix it, but since it was so dilapidated, not only was he unable, he did not think it worthwhile either. Charley and Lynn looked for a desk to fit Mom’s life style.

After a long and arduous search they found one they were sure she would like. As it happened, it cost more than they wanted to pay. So they asked Ted, Charlene, and Rebecca if they would chip in as a Christmas present for Mom. They all declined, but Charley and Lynn bought the desk for her anyway.

Every time Mom sat at the desk, she thought of her sons Charley and Ted and her daughter, Rebecca and the wonderful wives and husband they had. Charley then knew Ted, and Rebecca told Mom the desk and chair was a gift was from them.  “I should have known that was the case, it certainly fits their style,” the Charley in the hall thought to himself,

Mom was in her eighties at the time and writing a letter to Charley. He began to read:

 “Dearest Charley, more than sixty years ago, I looked at the 8 ½ lb. bundle handed me and the thrill of a perfect little human boy was so great and I was so proud then.  Then, years later I awoke from a serious illness and there you and Lynn were, once again to help. I never saw people do so much for me, so generous, so tireless, and so very loving. Still the years between were great too. Your life full of music, the many small things you’ve done for me like going to the library or with me by train to care for my mother, your kindness and joy to her. All these things I adored. Today, you’re a loving husband who shares his love and wealth. No words can thank you enough for all the things you managed for me. I love you more than anything in the world, Love Mom.”  Mom died some six years later.

Shortly after writing the letter, her mind began suffering from the effects of dementia and bi-polar syndrome. Managing her affairs became Charlie’s responsibility. It fell to him to find assisted care facilities for her and handle her moving. He dealt with many grievances brought on by her bi-polar and because she was such a difficult patient, she was asked to leave several of the facilities. Charlie also accompanied her on visits to her doctor, dentists, psychiatrists and other specialists, he managed her finances and along with his wife, shopped for clothing and medications. As Charlie continued with that frame, he saw his thoughts and motives clearly. Thoughts of love, sympathy and sorrow about his mother’s trials, yes, but there were other thoughts too, fleeting thoughts, dark thoughts he held very deep inside and wanted absolutely no one to know.

There was resentment that her dementia extracted so much from his goals. So many times, he had to reschedule or postpone meetings, push back trips, and, in general, put much of his life on hiatus.  He saw his anger at the strength of her personality coupled with her bi-polar that, like a bomb, went off unexpectedly wreaking havoc in waiting rooms, restaurants and department stores. He witnessed again, her high pitched shrieks and boisterous demeanor as she almost always demanded immediate attention regardless of those who may have been there longer. He came face to face with his greed; yearning for the time her estate would be his, selfishness that he sometimes secretly wished she would hurry up and pass away reasoning that she would not want to live in her present state anyway.

His widowed sister Rebecca lived by herself a half hours drive away and his brother Ted lived with his wife, Charlene and their college aged son about an hour away. As he revisited with them within the frame, anger arose anew at their selfishness. For most of the decade before Mom’s death, his sibling’s involvement with her amounted to just two or three visits a year and incessant complaints about how Charley and Lynn managed her difficulties.

Then he saw the ledgers. "No! “  He thought, "Not here, not now." He didn't have to explore them in greater detail because every aspect of their contents was firmly embedded in his mind. He saw immediately the earmarked pages containing those damned entries, the ones he altered to cover up his embezzlement from his brother and sister. Only now every falsified entry was boldly highlighted and underlined. Any casual visitor would identify those ledgers and know the truth.

Finally, he stopped. “This isn’t fair”, he cried. “I can’t let anyone see this frame”. “I can’t let anyone see this room”. “I will deny this is me.” But then he noticed that like the works of a fine artist, each frame unmistakably bore his symbol, the undeniable essence of his character, as much a part of him as his DNA. He tried to grab the frame on the top and yank it from the wall. It would not budge in spite of repeated efforts to remove it.  Sweating profusely, defeated and totally helpless, he broke down and wept; crumpling to the floor with a long mournful wail.