Thursday, August 1, 2013


The true definition of a snob
is one who craves for what separates people
rather than for what unites them.
--- John Buchan

I decided today that what is going to do me in with my mother is not her continuing decline in mental sharpness, but her continuing increase in snobbishness.   It's the thing that makes me want to leave her apartment to keep from getting angry with her.

Every now and then I wish my sister were still alive.  I wished she were alive to share with me the angst of our parents' divorce.  I wished she were alive to watch Ned, who reminded me so much like her, grow up.  I wished she were alive through this past year to help me make the decisions about our mother.   But right now I just wish she were alive so I could see what kind of person she grew into.

I have thought that many times over the years.  I remember how racist my father was and how he gave lip service to liking African Americans (a term I'msure he never used), as proven by how many record albums by black pianists he had.  He once tried to prove to a Black Panther that he wasn't racist by inviting him home to listen to his Art Tatum records.  (I'm sure what saved him was how much the Panther must have laughed to listen to my father)

I've also listened to my mother over the years complaining about this or that person who was "very, very [ethnic]" or define families by their ethnicity.  I went on a week camping trip with her and her husband once.  We rode in their mobile home and it only took a day for me to retreat, whenever I could, to the far corner of the vehicle to avoid all the racial epithets--for every race imaginable--that I heard from her husband.  

When I was in school, it was peopled with white Anglo-Saxon Catholics and I never attended school with anybody who wasn't like me until I got to high school.   The school I chose was more ethnically mixed than the school my sister attended, but with 200 students in the school, there were less than a dozen African Americans.   There were more Latinos and a few Asians.  I never really thought about race at all.  We were just all girls going to high school.

I can't remember a time when I ever considered race or ethnicity in judging a new acquaintance.  Which seems very strange to me because it was all around me all of my growing up years.  So I wonder what Karen would have been like as she grew up.  

Atria is mostly old white people too (though I have seen one black woman and one Asian woman), so I don't hear a lot of ethnic comments from my mother these days, but Lord am I sick of hearing how many walkers there are in the place and how lucky she is that she doesn't need a walker, and if she ever gets to the point of needing a walker, could I please shoot her.  I've tried to point out to her that the people using walkers are the people who are going outside and doing things, while she is stuck in her apartment because it hurts her to walk too far.   But that doesn't matter.  She doesn't need a walker and she definitely looks down her nose at those who do.

I have started having lunch with her regularly on the day of the Brain Gym, because I feel that if I eat with her too often, she won't force herself to eat with other people.  It settles the question "do you want to have lunch with me?" because I can say "No, but I'll have lunch with you on Wednesday."   When we go together, she picks a table where we will be alone and then she spends time looking around at the people around her and pointing out any oddity she finds.   She won't eat with this one because she doesn't open her eyes when she eats.   She won't eat with that one because she talks too much.  She won't eat with that one because she talks too little.  Look at the outfit on that one.  It goes on and on and I just want to walk out of the dining room, but I don't, of course.

I actually came home today and looked up the parable of the Pharasee and the Publican on line, wondering if I could find a folksy version that I might give to her to read and think about.  But of course she wouldn't understand, so I just sigh and keep it all inside (or here on my journal!).

I'd like to think this is all part of her dementia, but having watched her do this all of my life, I know that it's just part of her.  I think of her as a wonderful, giving person, but there is this snobbish component of her that I have never liked, and like less now that it is more pronounced.

But I guess that's not very kind of me either, is it...

1 comment:

phonelady said...

Can I say I know exactly how you feel ? only it was my grandfather who used the n word when referring to the ppl of the african american race .He used to say "TIme was when n----knew their place " and they did dare cross the line or they knew what was waiting on them ". I just go so sick of him saying that . My grandma was always saying well you know those mexies are not any better .But my mother grew up to be a snob too . she always thought she was better than anyone else .It really just peed me off more than anyone can know .She frequently used the term dissapointment when referring to me with her friends .Some of whom I dont suspect cared for her much at all judging by the looks on their faces . so you are not alone my dear in that category . The only difference is I no longer visit and or can stand my mother .