Grumbling and crumbling, I'm ever searching new reading and reinforcements for my hypochondria in re my 'dementia caregivrentia.' Friendly little email today from a distant dinner guest who, back around 2012, tagged along with his posh London hosts.
I was pretty well gone by then, maman at her oblivious imperiousest.
The chap seemed to be in some medical trade and, Anthony Stevens not among the guests to run interference, I steered the conversation towards thievery - not difficult when my mother's stock topics included the old chestnut about Corfiots being liars, Italians thieves. As the guests nodded politely at this expert profiling, I would comment sauté voce to guests either side of me that the only thing that saved me blushing when we had Corfiots breaking bread was that San Luca harboured neither Corfiots nor Italians and yet was scene of the most breathtaking thieving in my lifetime.
For some reason, maman seemed to think that ignoring my comment was the best redaction.
I let the waters settle and, over coffee on the terrace, asked mildly if anyone knew of any research into the long-term effects of how I was being treated. Really ram it home:
- Alone in a country whose lingo I spaketh not.
- Reduction to status of unpaid slave
- Humiliation and demolition of self-esteem in role of under-gardener
- On-tap unpaid chauffeur, expected also to stick around the dullest ancients south of Sidari and chauffeur her back at the end of the evening.
- Endure non-stop dementia repeatia dronings about ... what else? - effing gardenry.
Then today a jovial email reminding me of the meeting and saying that he and his were taking a villa around Nisaki and how wonderful it would be to see me again and show their friends my mother's 'splendid garden' - which he was sure I'd been keeping in 'tip-top shape'. Hollow sneer.
Then, "I've been thinking about what you shared about your life out here: not to alarm you, but it was actually changing your mind. The human brain adapts to its environment in constant dialogue with the outside world, shaping and reshaping neuronal configurations. Studies have shown that what you were going through can have adverse effects ... including depression, decline in empathy, short attention span and loss of identity ... blah blah."Well, helloo? Of course depression, of course short attention span when at any moment I could be summoned for some futile task or errand when I had explained ad nauseam that these things should be planned and grouped together to save umpteen trips a week ... loss of identity. What identity?
As I read, into my mind popped the memory of the morning mater had piped up with her usual line about "Next time you have your clippers handy, etc etc." They were in fact in view so I took them and brandished them: 'See these? They are not my clippers, it's not my hobby - there is no willing next time. When I see them I make damn'd sure to remove them out of sight so they don't jog your memory to find some effing job out there!'
Then with a venomous jiggle, I dropped them gently over the parapet with a calm, "I'll collect them later but this will do as a gesture ... I loathe this whole servile gardenry thing."
Of course and as usual, my mother reddened at this 'Emperor's Secateurs' dissing of her frigging hobby and rushed off in full gyaku-gire mode, shrieking that I could jolly well fuck off which, of course, I longed to do had I a single cent with which to afford such blessèd relief.
I was explaining the other day over the phone to our UK lawyer who's battling thru the whole Probate maze and chiding me for letting my finances become mixed with the 'Estate':
"I don't have any finances. Nor bank account. My mother preferred to 'finance' my job as Caregiver, to 'sponsor' my jobs here by arranging access to her € account and Barclays sterling account so that I could settle bills, maintain subscription accounts, order books and knick-knacks online, keep the car stocked in petrol, pay tradesmen and groceries, follow behind the handbag as she bought her plants and faddish gardening tools. At the end of the day, no cash came my way, it was simply to ensure a seamless experience for her.
Loipon, every entry in the Barclays statements should be assigned to the estate for deducting from my share of the final payment as an advance on what I paid out for my soulless job.
I emailed back to Dottore Neuronal Fig that I was delighted to hear from him and interested in his diagnosis - refraining from asking the obvious, why the fuck he didnt speak up at the time?
No visit, I explained tactfully. The garden was my mother's hobby and had cost me dearly in isolation, de-identification and all the mind-numbing damage and suffering he had spotted. "The garden's out there, the memories as unhappy as when I trudged its paths, but I have nothing to do with it."