In Your Best Interest…
Snow fluttered softly upon the rustic American postcard town of Huntington. Even though Christmas had come and gone, the decoration and lights remained up and brought a warm feel to the dry and biting cold. An elderly woman, with freshly dyed Amber hair, pulls her mid nineteen eighties’ rusty Ford Fiesta to the curb along the downtown strip and in front of the Candy Shop. Waiting for her just outside the coffee shop, stands a young husky man with Sandy Blonde Hair and a pink face without a jacket.
The Amber haired woman softly exits her car and crosses the freshly shoveled sidewalk. She and the pink faced man hug. “Hello mom,” the husky man says as they enter the store. The atmosphere of sugar and roasting coffee beans occupy the railroad style shop. The elderly amber and pink face head towards a petit green wrought iron lawn table and chairs underneath a black and white photo of downtown Huntington from the early developing days. Pink face helps his mother remove her goose down coat and hangs it over the back of her chair.
“Can I get you something to warm up?” says husky with a smile.
“A hot chocolate please, and tell them to make it extra chocolatey this time.” said mother removing her wire-framed glasses.
“I’m not sure doctor Collins will like that much.”
“Never you mind that nonsense. Hot chocolate should taste like chocolate.”
Husky takes a walk to the counter. Mother sits and looks out the window patiently as the snow continues to powder the ground.
“Here you go mom,” says Husky with two hot beverages in hand.
“Thanks Raymond,” replies mother.
“I asked them to add in extra chocolate. It didn’t cost extra.”
“Well that’s awfully nice of them.”
“It is. We’ll take the savings where we can get them,” said Raymond.
The sweet taste softly paints a smile on mother’s face. Raymond takes a sip of his large room temp coffee.
“I wanted to check in with you and see how things are going at the house,” said mother.
“You could have called,” replied Raymond.
“Yes, but when I call you never seem to answer your phone or reply to my messages.”
“I know mom, but I can’t always take your calls. I’m busy. Plus, I told you to text me instead. It’s the best way to get a hold of me.”
“You know I don’t know how to work those things.”
“It’s not that hard mom--”
“I don’t like the touch screen. It doesn’t feel like I’m typing anything,” said mother with a little bite.
“Look, if you want, I can get you one of the older phones--”
“I don’t want an older phone. I want to speak with my son.”
Raymond reaches out to his mother’s cold hands and looks at his mother’s soft blue eyes, “Well, I’m here now,” he says comfortingly.
“The house Raymond. What’s going on with the house?” asks mother.
“It’s coming along.”
“Is it? I went by to come take a look, but the only people to greet me at the door were the dogs.”
“When was this mom?”
“It was yesterday. I’ve been trying to come by every so often to see how progress has been,” said mother with a hint of worry, “but no one is ever home. I try to call you and Jenny but no one picks up the phone. I tried to email you but no one responds. And when I come to visit, no one’s there.” Raymond finishes off his cold coffee.
“Mom, you have to try to coordinate with us better.”
“It’s my house, Raymond.”
“Yes, it is--”
“I do have a right to come to my own house.”
“Yes you do mom, you do. But, we’re still working on it.”
“But how much longer is it going to take, Raymond?”
“There’s not much we can do right now. It’s winter.”
Mother takes another sip of her hot chocolate. The taste has gone bitter. “Raymond… You’ve been giving me this excuse for months now. You said the house would be ready by Thanksgiving and now we’re almost into the new year. I’ve been living with Jerry and Alice for months, Raymond. When can I come home?”
“Mom,” says Raymond with hesitation, “It’s gonna take us a little bit more time… and a little bit more money.”
“More money?!” Mom responds. A young couple playing Jenga peek behind them to see mother shaking.
“Calm down mom,” whispers Raymond.
“I can’t calm down, Raymond. I just can’t.”
“We just need more money to put in the--”
“Please don’t tell me that you put in the pool, Raymond.”
“It’ll add value you the house. I told you it’d be a good investment to make. We’ve already broke ground.”
“But I didn’t want a pool, Raymond. You know that I can’t afford the upkeep and we don’t have a need for it.” Tears begin to well from mother’s eyes. Raymond looks around the shop with a slight degree of embarrassment.
“Momma, you have to think of the resale value.”
“Resale? Who said it’s going on the market?”
“You have to be realistic about these things, mom.”
“No, Raymond. No.”
“Mom. Please understand. You don’t need to be in a big house like that…”
“That house has been with us for generations,” said mother with dignity. “You’re great grandfather built that house with his own hands. You’re father and I were married in the backyard. My children, you, Sam, Adam and Sophie, were born and grew up in that house.” Mother tries to hold back her tears. “Why are you talking about a sale of the house? It’s not your house to sell Raymond.”
Despondent, mother pushes her cup of hot chocolate aside. Raymond, sheepishly reaches for mother’s hand. Mother pulls back. “Mom. Look… Jenny and I think it’s in your best interest to see the realities. You’re not getting any younger and you have to start thinking about your health and who’s going to care for you.”
“I don’t believe I’m hearing this,” says mother with shock.
“Just let me finish, please.”
“You’re thinking of sending me to a home aren’t you?”
“Mom. I love you. You know that. We’re just looking at what you’ll be facing in the years a head.”
“I trusted you, Raymond, to help me. When you said you’re business needed a job, I entrusted you to help me make a simple change to the house. Every step of the way, all you’ve done is delay and ask for more money. You tell me that I need to have central air, or that I need to have a fourth bedroom or a large kitchen with an island… You tell me that I need to have all these fixings and furnishings. But I don’t.”
“Mom,” Raymond tries to reach out once again, “Please… We’re not thinking about sending you to a home. No. Nothing like that…”
“Then what Raymond? What? Please tell me because I’d sure as hell would like to know,” says mother shaking.
“Adding the pool will add value. There’s lots of new families moving into the area and being able to think of the potential sale of the house isn’t a bad thing to consider,” said Raymond. “Jenny and I think this’ll be good for you when you’re not able to care for yourself…”
Mother takes a deep breath, gets up from her seat and grabs her coat.
“Mom… where are you going?” Raymond cries out quietly. Mother ignores him as she wraps her scarf around her neck and exits out of the shop, into her car, and drives off into the wintery night.
It stops snowing.