My mother is in town, and listening to her is like listening to someone talking to the mirror. You know what I mean? Almost every sentence begins with "And then I said" or "So I told them", or some such variation. It's like she's being interviewed by Fox News in her head - a one-on-one hagiography about the life of an influential person. She is full of stories about her own importance in the world, and loves to recount how others come to her for wisdom - mostly of the Biblical and political variety - or how someone was so wrongheaded and she said just the right thing to put them in their place. The latter she calls "speaking the truth in love", but it more or less amounts to her spouting her opinion whether or not it makes sense or has any effect on the person she's speaking to, who might or might not be listening.
This trip she's mostly focused on the wisdom she brings to children - how my cousin and her husband are so grateful for all the wonderful things she teaches their younger son, how overwhelmingly happy her Sunday school students' parents are that she is "teaching their children to really be in the Word, and not just about religion", and so on and so forth. Most of this is a jab at me, as I am, of course, teaching my children "religion" by taking them to Orthodox church. Her dissertation this morning at the table (as I tried to work on the computer and drown out the sound of her voice with my typing) focused on all the Bible verses she's taught her students, and included a long speech on how they have all learned through her that the only wisdom that matters is is the Bible, and not in all those other books - I can only assume she means the books on the 9 large bookshelves in this house, since she owns none herself.
You would think that in some way, someone so completely focused on themself wouldn't be so tiring to be around. After all, all her energy is taken up in thinking about herself, and how can that be so demanding to listen to? But it is, oh, how it is! Holding the mirror in which she preens and talks to herself is a very exhausting job; if it fell to me to do it more than twice a year I don't think I could take it.
It will be over on Monday, and I will be fortified for the finish line on Sunday by the Liturgy at church. And then we'll move back to normal life, and she won't trouble us again until November. Thank God for small mercies, and 1500 miles of blessed distance.