To Forget One’s Self

I’ve been avoiding a certain phone call.

One I use to make every week since I was eleven.

She was like my second mother and now I can’t even call her- can’t bring myself to press that button.

And I feel guilty about it everyday, so I smoosh it to the back of my mind. Because if I don’t, I will hear the same thing I heard the last time I called…

She tells me how lonely she is, how she always has more housework to do. How her boyfriend isn’t as kind to her as he once was, comes up the garden path to have lunch with her everyday. She tells me how she feeds her favourite magpie called Two-toes and his family crushed peanuts and asks me about my dad.

Only when she tells me about her daughters do the holes begin.

She forgets where they are, she forget the question she asked you from 5 minutes ago. She forgets more, and more and more of you as the phone grows quiet. Disjointed.

Her life seems to flow on repeat, as she no longer has the strength to change it. Monotonous, mediocre happiness or ‘okay days’, as she calls it. Where joy nor upset brushes past her skin.

She’s close to the end and I can hear it through the phone. I saw it a few Christmas’ ago, as making dinner triggered a break down. Something she use to love to do- to feel needed- finding all these new recipes and desserts from magazine clippings…

Her home, a place I use to feel was my own; complete with wind chimes and little blue flowery wallpaper. Us watching her favourite Scandinavian murder dramas late into the night, only for her to fall asleep during half of them and then wake up when I’d change the channel.

The warm memories of a decade, peeling at the edges as the last memory I have of her was her temper alight as she screamed at me in front of our family. Like I was a punching bag to her mind caving in. It was Christmas morning, and it upset me so much, I flew home a day earlier.

From that day onwards it seemed like her safe haven full of peaceful memories and lazy summers transitioned into a obstacle course of confusion, as she was slowly loosing her mind.

She became unbearable to be around, her temper so thin, leaving the toilet seat up would send her into a full rage. And the worst part was I couldn’t get mad at her and I couldn’t talk to her because she simply didn’t realise.

And all the parts of her I loved, like her warmth, her quiet contemplation, her ability to laugh at herself and her curiosity were all but being erased with time.

And so I couldn’t call her, she just wasn’t there to pick up anymore. Only traces of her were left. It was like she died but was wasn’t ready to be buried yet.

As I try to dial her contact, my fingers lock up out of self-preservation.

Phillipa was the first person who took the time to understand me and chose to love me. Not because we were distant family but because her heart was big enough.

She was the only one who would talk to me about my mum leaving. And in the kitchen, late at night with cocoa in one hand, and her hand in the other, I would confess to her how lonely I was. And she would cry with me, about how cruel life had been; how she didn’t understand either. Her husband, my mum.

My dad gave me everything he could, but he couldn’t give me that.

And now she’s evaporating before my eyes and I don’t know what to do.

It feels like I’m a child again, losing another parent and I just don’t know what to do.


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