But after having torn myself from my elderly mother in a huff late this afternoon, my conscience is tinged with an element of sorrow. It was more than an fit of petty annoyance. The tantrum was oddly psychological, to the point where in flagrante delicto I was paradoxically kissing my mother goodbye on her forehead while contemporaneously analyzing the necessity of self-assertion (or what at the time I actually felt was more an act of self-defence). Lest this conundrum be misinterpreted, kindly dismiss anything as classic as a confrontation of the filial and the parental! My mother and I are both far too old to appropriate that dramatic privilege of Shakespearean tragedy!
What in my opinion is apt is that I relented and cast aside my erstwhile apology for the objectionable behaviour of others. My mother had in the previous thirty minutes or so since my arrival at her apartment hissed "Shut up!' to me on at least three occasions, each punctuating an assertion of mine which no doubt contradicted one of her own. We were engaged in the heady matter of what to give the staff at her retirement residence (what she calls the "Nut House") for a Christmas gratuity. The management had sent me its traditional letter seeking a contribution. Every year my mother has contributed to the fund which is shared with all the staff. Knowing as I do the tradition of this bequest I suspect I was rather short with my mother when she began stonewalling with trite objections as to merit, cost, worthiness and even lost interest on the capital for the six weeks or so remaining before Christmas. She routinely pretended to overrule my contest by rudely muttering "Shut up!" (and shamefully pretending not to have said anything when I asked her to repeat what she had said). The face-off ended by me staring into her face and telling her not to tell me to shut up, that I did not like being told to shut up. I think - though I am not now certain - she responded provocatively and told me to shut up and maybe even told me to leave. It was then I kissed her and stormed out of her apartment.
The upshot of this laughable power struggle is superficially the overwhelming entitlement of the elderly. Competing with that capitulation is the value of standing one's ground and calling out anti-social behaviour under any circumstances. And if I am to be entirely truthful the underlying theme must be my awakening conviction that before time runs out I have every intention of saying what I think! Fortunately for us both, my mother will undoubtedly have no recollection of what was said. For my part I haven't the strength to wring my hands over this trifling feud. In the end the deep waters of blood will carry away the muck of lesser disputes.