Listen to this story, narrated by C. S. E. Cooney:
Sometimes my mother calls me just to say hi: she says that a song she heard on the minibus made her think of me, or a photo in a magazine (she insists that I look like a certain fashionable actor), she talks to me for a few minutes about what she’s been doing, how the family is, and then she says goodbye.
In these cases, I’m glad she tried to reach me; enough that I don’t even mention that her calls always wake me up, and it takes me a long time to get back to sleep. It makes me really happy to know that she loves me despite everything.
But there are other times when she calls to complain: about my absence, about her loneliness, about how cold I’ve become with her, about how my visits are more and more sporadic, never mind the reasons (even though she knows very well that it’s not so simple for me to make the trip). She cries, she screams that I don’t put any effort in on my part. Such a reproach! And she accuses me of becoming more selfish and indifferent since a certain date.
She gets sanctimonious and says that an accident — she says it that way, with contempt, instead of THE accident — is no justification for my having gotten so distant.
In these cases, to be honest, I get angry. It’s really unfair of her to put me in that position, so I don’t respond. And of course she rails and tells me to go to hell. After a while she calms down and calls me again, she asks my forgiveness, she says that she misses me, that she understands, that it hurts that I’ve gone away; but I, with all due respect, move the glass stubbornly over the table again and again towards the word, “Goodbye.”