A great book excerpt by Lindy West in the Guardian on how women must be small, and starved, to be acceptable. My father-in-law doesn't find me acceptable at all. Even so I'm caught, furiously and stupidly, trying to avoid his predictions about weight. He can't win I goad myself, without realizing that he already has.
‘You’ll be ‘dick’ like your mother,’ my father-in law told me over lunch. He is German. Dick translates as fat. Maybe I had unwittingly exposed myself, by accepting his offer of pudding.
Mother was dead when he made this observation. She was also fat. Until Motor Neuron Disease made it impossible to swallow. But my father-in-law has never acknowledged the dying, and has no idea how it went. Motor Neuron Disease robs you of everything, even chocolate.
Mum fell by days and hours and weeks from millionaire shortbread and Diet Coke down through blueing bread, to gavage. Soon we had to pump protein packs directly by tube into her stomach. They smelt of school dinners, of hospital trays, of wrong. From the first day that sticky plastic syringe was put to use, there was a yeasty heaviness that hung about her, the house, my hands.
Each time we loaded her lunch I wondered whether she had been able to mark the last time something had tasted good. Whether she had enjoyed its soft sweetness, or if that final square of Dairy Milk had been rushed, undone, unenjoyed. Forever laced with a sourness of guilt.