A year later, Build Mexico proves too much, and the three of you agree it was a brilliant plan but really, were’t we supposed to be retired? Forget the airport runs. Forget holding up handmade signs with your guests’ names on them. The Inn is all you can handle. You are in what your friend Joan calls “The Breakdown Lane” — a far and unexpected cry from The Last Great Adventure. Call it a breakdown, call it a bottom, call it whatever you like. You are done. The inn is up and running but you are down and out.
Once proud of your survivor skills, now all you can do is wonder at your carelessness. What were you thinking when you launched into the this new life full of strangers and seemingly insurmountable challenges. Your marriage has ended, your coffers are empty, your parents and your beloved Sally The Beagle are dead and you have been diagnosed with “The Disease of Our Times.”
Your depression, unlike William Styron’s, does not incapacitate you. You are not that kind of depressed. Not for you the comfort of being glued to your bed in a stained bathrobe with the covers over your head and the TV droning in the background. Your depression is bolder, more colorful. Your depression is characterized by constant movement. You never sit, you never cry, you never stop being afraid. Your sons and their families visit you in Mexico. You want everything to be perfect. Your biggest worry is that they will suspect you are a red hot mess. You revert to overdrive, whisking plates off before the kids have finished eating — why do they take so long to eat — and refuse all efforts to help. You will prove you are fine, if not to yourself, to your boys, your daughters-in-laws and you grandchildrenl.
“Mom,” your youngest son says one morning, “you’re getting just like grandma.” Nothing this wonderful son can tell you can stop you smack in the middle of spraying for dengue-carrying mosquitoes swirling around your grandchildren’s heads like the threat of becoming like your mother. “What do you mean?” you ask, pausing for a second, but not daring to take your eyes off the mosquitoes. “Frantic,” he says, “You’re acting crazy.”
It’s Thanksgiving, 2009. You realize he’s right.