The Caretaker

The Caretaker

Chapter 1

“Mom, you can’t do this.”

Phae sucked in a deep breath and counted to ten. “Kera, I am your mother. I am 64 years old. I can do whatever I want. I appreciate your concern. But I’m going whether you like it or not.”

Pinching her bottom lip, Kera said, “I think you should see a doctor mom. I don’t believe that you’re rational.”

Phae glared at her daughter. She didn’t know if she wanted to laugh, cry or be angry. She could feel a knot forming in her stomach as indignation jolted through her body. “What are you insinuating Kera? That I can’t make decisions for myself?” Phae could feel her face getting warm as her temper flared. “I can assure you I have been making decisions for this family since before you were born. Always putting everyone else’s needs and wants first.”

Phae took a deep breath. She looked across the room to where Kera stood with her palm over her mouth and her eyes shimmering with tears. For an instant, Phae saw a little twelve-year-old girl who needed her mother’s understanding, not the 38-year-old teacher and mother of three that Kera had become.

I’m handling this poorly; she thought. I don’t want to argue with my daughter. She walked over to Kera and wrapped an arm around her.

“I’m sorry mom. I didn’t mean for it to sound like I think you’re incompetent.”

Leading Kera over to the bed, she pushed aside the packing.

“Sit Kera. Maybe I can help you understand. ”

Phae began to pace and wring her hands, contemplating how to explain her decision without sounding as if she regretted her life.

”I didn’t finish college. I worked and supported my parents and siblings adding to the family coffers. When I met your dad, I was taking a few night courses on architecture. I dreamt of becoming an architect and design fabulous buildings. I dreamed of going to Europe to see the ancient ruins and the architecture in Italy, Greece, and Spain.”

Phae expelled a whoosh of breath. “Your father swept me off my feet at nineteen. We got married, and I left my parents house and moved in with your father. I was blessed with two beautiful children. Your brother was a honeymoon baby, and you came along two years later. Your dad didn’t want me to work. He believed he was the breadwinner, and we would get by on what he brought home. Life pulled me along, and I went wherever anyone needed me to be. I was happy with my life. I took care of you kids and took care of my parents and your dad’s parents when they got old until they passed on.

“Kera, I don’t regret my life. I loved your father; I love being a mom and grandmother, but at this stage of my life, I need an adventure. I want an adventure. I want to see a little of the world before I die.

“I had hoped when your father retired he might be more open to traveling. He died before we even had a chance to discuss it. With pleading eyes, she implored Kera to understand. I’m not waiting for someday anymore. My someday is here. I want to take advantage of this opportunity to live in Mallorca Spain, to see the things I’ve always wanted to see. I want to be on my own and not have to worry about pleasing anyone but myself. I know you are concerned, tell me what you are afraid of…. “I’m worried about if you get sick or have a heart attack, or get mugged.”

Phae shrugged. “Even if I didn’t go those are all possibilities.” Phae walked over to the dresser. She picked up her cell phone and two boxes. “I got a new cell phone number that permits me to call or text internationally. As a going away gift, I bought you and your brother each one.”

“What if you decide not to come back? “

Phae looked over the top of her glasses and smiled. “Really? This is my home. My family is here. You, your brother, my awesome grandchildren. Besides, I’m looking forward to you all coming for a visit.”

Kera cocked her head to one side and responded with, “Mom what am I supposed to do for nine months while you are away?”

“Live your life, honey. That is what I am going to be doing.”Kera rose and hugged her. “I’ll miss you. And I’ll still worry. Send lots of pictures, okay?”

Phae stroked her daughter’s cheek pushing hair away from her fair face. “I’ll miss you too. Now help me finish packing.”

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