Letter to My Daughters
I will never live with you, even when I am really, really old.
Don’t ask. Don’t think it.
It will never happen.
If I lived with you, there’s a chance that I would begin to depend on you for everything.
I might stop cooking dinner for myself, and wait until you announced dinner every night; then if it didn’t meet with my approval, I might make a face and eat it anyway. Or I might make myself toast, while you worried if I was getting enough to eat.
I might stop driving, because it scared me, and then you would have to drive me everywhere.
When you got me to the grocery store, I might speed off on my mini car, fill my cart with cookies, candy, ice cream, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, and salt free chips. Then when you asked me where the real food was, I would shrug, and wave you away.
If I lived with you, I might have my TV on for 14 hours a day. I might watch the same maudlin movies, over and over. I might listen to it so loud, that you couldn’t hear your own TV, should you want to watch it, and I would stay up long after you went to bed, so you would lie awake listening to mine.
You might not be able to shut your door, in case I needed you in the night.
I would probably still like Everybody Loves Raymond, but I might hate Marie, Raymond’s mother. I might think she was bossy, pushy, domineering. I might insist that it wasn’t funny, that they were an‘awful’ family, while still watching it several times a day.
No, dear daughters, I will never live with you.
When I had the hump, I might sulk like a child, turn the TV off, cross my arms and close my eyes; and when you worried and asked me what was wrong, I might shrug, and say “nothing”, even though you would KNOW that there was something.
You might start feeling that you were bad daughters, that you weren’t doing ENOUGH.
When it was time for vacation, you might want to take your children, and by then, your grandchildren, on a trip. Just you. And even though it might not interest me, I might make sure you felt very guilty for not taking me.
Do you have any idea how long you might feel bad for leaving me home?
No, no, I will not be living with any of you. Not ever.
Because I love you too, too much, as I know you love me.
I don’t want you to be torn between that love, and the annoying old lady that I might become. For though I am full of life now, and love my life, there is every possibility that I may not always be myself.
I don’t want to see that look in your eyes, when I am rambling on and on about the me I remember, when I tell the same stories over and over.
I don’t want to see that impatience on your face, when I am driving you crazy.
No, I will not live with you.
Whether I am living alone with my looms, or being cared for somewhere, I want you to come visit me, take me away for the afternoon, spend small bits of intended time with me.
Then, only then, will I be sure that I am still living my own life, and not yours.