Friday, June 09, 2006

Bea’s Books (3)

Bea naps for most of the day. She wakes up once and asks, “Who’s in charge here?”

“I’m in charge,” I say.

When I appear at her bedside later, she opens her eyes and says in a soft voice, “I love you.”

Now that Bea is bedridden, it no longer matters that I am not as intellectual as she would have wanted me to be. The conflicts between us are over. Bea went back into therapy when I fell in love with a Frenchman and moved to France. She maintained I was trying to put an ocean between us. It was not easy having her as a mother. My children, however, did enjoy her as a grandmother: smart, attentive, modern.

As I leave the bedroom, I pick up another one of her books. “The Hero With a Thousand Faces” by Joseph Campbell is a rather beat-up paperback, purchased for 35 cents. Bea has signed her name on the first page and specified that she wants it given to one of my daughters: “For Natalie.”

In the spring of 1991, Bea noted on the second page, “I met Joseph Campbell, of Irish catholic background, and his twin-like sister one weekend in Woodstock NY in the 30s. He was tall and very handsome, as was his sister. He was also charismatic, cerebral rather than sexy. I have seen him this past winter on TV, discussing mythology with Bill Moyers. Campbell said that he advised his Sarah Lawrence students to ‘follow their bliss.’”

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