My mother is living with me now. She came to stay when my father was admitted to a specialty hospital near my home. Her home, the house she shared with my father for 39 years, the house where my sisters and I grew up, is eight hours away by car, on Long Island. The specialty hospital is in Baltimore, just over an hour from my home, so it made sense that she would live here during his incarceration. It worked out well. She commuted to the hospital every day, sitting with my father in the psych ward, avoiding the other inmates and getting to know the aides and security guards. At night, we drank wine and she shared the sagas of the staff. The security guard fled the Ivory Coast when his father was imprisoned for selling goats to a dissident. The day aide, named Sunshine, lived with three other families in Baltimore, working twelve hour shifts six days a week. My mother was entranced by their stories. I suppose it took her mind off the reality of my father’s illness, or perhaps she’s just a busybody. I still don’t know.
We have taken to calling her: the Boarder. She likes that.