My 80-ish mother has always considered herself an artist, although her paintings are bad at best. She insists on gifting paintings at major events, and also insists that the honorees unwrap the painting in front of guests. At a recent (classy) wedding, she insisted the bride and groom open her gift, although doing it at a wedding isn’t usually done.
The bride and groom were angry and embarrassed, as were the bridal party and guests. The painting was atrocious, and my oblivious mother beamed and grinned and took a bow. She does this at most weddings and events, and I’m mortified each time. The recipients are, without exception, visibly uncomfortable and even angry that she attempts to steal their limelight. Mother doesn’t notice.
This isn’t dementia; she has always been an attention hog and narcissist. I reached the point that I’m going to avoid any events she is attending. I have begged her not to do this, but she claims I’m “just trying to stifle her creativity” and she’s a gifted artist. Abby, are laughing behind her back. How do I stop her from doing this?
From San Diego, California
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It must be difficult watching your mother displaying her junk, while simultaneously embarrassing you. This situation calls for you to do anything that will prompt her to put all of her paint and paint brushes in the nearest trash bag. Here are some suggestions. Take her and one of her creations to an art dealer, and have him tell her what’s it’s worth… after he’s finished laughing and throwing up. Or take it to a preschool class, and let her watch the students assume her painting is a bad color by numbers job, done by kid who was hooked on crystal meth. Or this idea. Call the police and see if they can arrest her, charging her with impersonating an artist. And lastly, you might want to consider this option. Invite her, along with all of the recipients of her “art” to a late night function. But don’t tell your mother until she was arrives that it’s a bonfire in her honor… sort of. I hope this helps.