May 7, 2022 – A week earlier, my phone buzzed as my husband and I waited on the tarmac at Denver International Airport, bound for a much-anticipated island vacation.

“Ignore it,” Andy said when he saw my mom’s name on my phone screen. But I couldn’t. 

“Hi Mom,” I said, turning my eyes toward the ceiling as if I might find serenity among the call buttons and task lighting. 

“I’m not good, Krissy,” she squeaked, and I felt a familiar emptiness in my chest where compassion used to live. Calls from my mother ranged from panicked requests for money, to tearful apologies for being a burden, to stream-of-consciousness monologues about growing up in 1950s Philadelphia. They were rarely two-way conversations, and it was never good news. 

As the plane began to taxi, she told me she was feeling bad, at her wit’s end, she said, and I murmured calming words as the flight attendant shot me a warning look. The truth was, I felt nothing but resentment. Raising my own two kids was hard enough; I shouldn’t have to mother my mother, too.


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