The day my mother ran away from homeAll I can think of when I hear the word “menopause” is my mother running away from home.
We didn’t know what that meant other than she wasn’t going crazy, we were told, like some women her age who were wearing go-go boots and mini-skirts and dying their hair peroxide blonde. Another plus, she wasn’t taking any tranquilizers. I’m thinking maybe she should have.
Looking back there were probably little signs indicating she was ready to blow, but kids being kids, we were busy bickering about who had to set the table, my older brother performing the “snake-bite” routine, which involved placing his hands around our arms, squeezing, and then twisting each hand in the opposite direction.
“You’re so stupid,” I screamed.
“I know you are, but what am I?” he retorted, over and over, no matter what name I called him.
Someone asked my mother over the din of bustling pots and pans and steam rising from boiling kettles what was for dinner.
Whatever the answer — probably “meat loaf” —was met by a chorus of groans. Someone said “Again?” in a raised voice.
My mother stopped in her tracks, turned off the stove and silently removed her apron. To this day I can still see her walking out the door, pulling an arm through the sleeve of her rain or shine coat.
We thought she was gone for good. Seeing that she didn’t drive, we pictured her hopping a bus to who knows where.
My father found her a couple blocks away, walking the dark streets in her sensible pumps, the soft, beige ones with a little heel.
I can think of only a few things more crushing than how we felt that day, pushing our poor mother over the edge like that. Maybe we had ruined her for life, but she came around and resumed her normal yelling at us and making us write 500 times “I will not call my brother names.”