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I'm familiar with Pearson largely as a result of the Peter and the Starcatcher series which he co-wrote with Dave Barry - lots more of his stuff is available here.
Rite of passage: A born liar
How do I learn how to lie to the woman who taught me not to?
My mother turns 93 today and is in advanced senility, a condition that prompted us to move her from her country home near Sun Valley, Idaho, to an assisted living facility only miles from our home in St. Louis.
Each morning I visit her in Sunrise Senior Living. I write my books while she reads (usually she reads the same passage from the same book; two weeks ago she was reading the book upside down and backward and said she wasn’t enjoying the story), an amicable working relationship. She can be close to her youngest son; I get to be with my aging mother. I’m able to accomplish 60 percent of what I could in my home office, but it’s better than nothing.
In the early afternoon I bring her to the house for a change of scenery and, for the most part, she naps with the book in her lap. (One of my thrillers; I try to not take it personally.) When she wakes up, she nearly always follows the same routine.
“Where am I?”
“St. Louis. In my home.”
“Where’s my dog?”
“Safe with a housekeeper.” In fact the dog was given away to a wonderful friend the day we left for St. Louis.
“I need a plane ticket for tomorrow. I have to go back home!”
“OK. I’ll book it.” I won’t book it. I will tell her the same thing tomorrow and the next day. And the next.
“Is my house still there?”
“Yes. It’s being looked after by a caretaker.” In fact, it is still there, but my siblings and I sold it last week, raising enough money to keep her here for years if necessary. It had grown too expensive to have private care in her private home.
So there is no home for her to return to. No dog. Her clothes are in boxes in my basement. And here I am lying my way through a complicated scenario that makes me appreciate being a novelist because I’m okay at inventing and telling stories. But lying to my mother? There’s the rub.
This woman worked with my brother and my sister before me to raise us to be upstanding kids (as far as suburban New York kids go; not that far!). I am an Eagle Scout. I help old ladies across the street. But I lie to my own mother. Each day, every day. It turns my stomach. It costs me sleep. These aren’t “harmless” lies — this is outright deception, playing tricks on the elderly. MY OWN MOTHER!
I don’t sleep well. I can’t focus. She’s always within arm’s length. If I leave her alone at the facility for more than three hours she goes ballistic and calls me crying and begging to “go home.” I tell her it’ll be okay — it won’t. I tell her, I’ll be right down. I zoom to the facility (they are angels there, thankfully) and there’s a caregiver consoling her. I thank the person and I take over.
She tells me she has to go home tomorrow.
I tell her I’ll arrange it. I won’t.
I tuck her into bed.
Turn off the light.
I trudge back to my car carrying the world on my shoulders.
She’s spending this first month “adjusting.”
I’m spending this first month learning to lie.
The sad thing is: I’m getting good at it.
Ridley Pearson, a nationally best-selling author, lives in Town and Country. His most recent novel is “The Red Room,” published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons.