“No.” It was all I could say, taking in the carnage of what had just last night been my pristine kitchen. I wanted to collapse onto a chair, but they – and our spacious table – were covered in miscellany. Cleaning supplies, random knick-knacks from the living room, a thermometer, a scale. It was all there, strewn about.
My legs were shaking, and I fought the urge to cry. So messy. So dirty. No, no, no. I collapsed onto the shoe bench in between the Franco Sarto and the Gucci. I don't know where Giesswein had gone. I wished I could blame it on burglars, but no.
“She's doing it again!” I called, and my husband came running into the kitchen. We watched his mother rearrange my cabinets, turning tea-cup handles to the left instead of the right. My hands twitched.
“Ma, stop it!” he said, exasperation coloring his voice. “Put these things back, they were fine where they were!”
"No," she said, her voice heavily-accented. "I will take care of my boys. I can make you curtains for the living room, too. I think blue would be better than your green."
"Ma!" He strode past the bedroom after her, then froze and backtracked. "You moved our bed?!"
"It is better there. Now you can see if someone does come in the door and can defend yourselves."
"The only one coming in unannounced is you! I love you, I do - but this is our house! Our life! You should move on, Ma." I just stared at them helplessly. I didn't want to suggest it...but it needed to be done.
"I know." Paula looked at him with sad eyes. "But it is tough to do things alone. You need your mother."
That was a trap and he knew it. Changing tactics, he asked; "Did you try to rest?”
She sniffed dismissively. That was a no. "Did I show you the pictures I did bring? Also, I want to make you boys some soups. You can always put it in the cool box."
"Ma...we haven't been married long, we really just want some time alone. You know, for privacy?" She was past listening to him. Again. “Mom, really... Pete and I would really appreciate it if you could stop rearranging and redecorating... you should really move on.”
She kept going, moving the photos on the wall around to suit her own taste; I squeaked in dismay. I had spent a week arranging those to tell the story of how we met. Throwing his hands up, Aaron returned to the disaster zone that had been our tidy kitchen.
"I love your mother, I do," I said cautiously. "But I think she's over-stayed her welcome."
Aaron sighed. "I know... I was glad she stayed for the wedding, though...”
“Me, too.” We gave each other a look of pained agreement.
"Alright. I'll call a medium tomorrow. That, at least, will be gentler on her than an exorcist."