‘What are these for? You only bring me flowers when you’ve done something good.’
‘Son, your mother and I don’t even recognize you anymore. You’ve become some sort of twisted animal.’
Dear Darling Son and That Person You Married,
I hope you are well. Please don’t worry about me. I’m just fine considering I can’t breathe or eat. The important thing is that you have a nice holiday, thousands of miles away from your ailing mother. I’ve sent along my last ten dollars in this card, which I hope you’ll spend on my beautiful grandchildren, who I never see. God knows their mother never buys them anything nice. They look anemic in their pictures, poor, thin babies.
Thank you so much for the birthday flowers, dear boy. I put them in the freezer so they’ll stay fresh for my grave. I know I’ll need them any day. Which reminds me — we buried Aunt Lucy last week. I know she died years ago, but I got to yearning for a good funeral, so Aunt Minnie and I dug her up and had the services all over again. I would have invited you, but I know that woman you live with would have never let you come. I bet she’s never even watched that videotape of my hemorrhoid surgery, has she? I am still suffering.
Well son, it’s time for me to drag myself to bed now. I lost my cane beating off muggers last week, but don’t you worry about me. I’m also getting used to the cold since they turned my heat off and am grateful because the frost on my bed numbs the constant pain. Now don’t you even think about sending any more money, because I know you need it for those expensive family holidays you take every year, though you never come see me. Give my love to my darling grand-babies and my regards to whatever-her-name-is — the one with the black roots who stole you screaming from my bosom.
Love Always, Your poor, old mother
shamMother and I natter on incessantly. Yesterday we went to visit my aunt a couple of hours away. As we rode along, I was asking Mother more about the details of her early marriage at eighteen. She slipped up and confessed a tale she’s felt guilty about ever since. I couldn’t believe she stumbled and told on herself after sixty-nine years. She usually bumbles right away. To set the stage, you have to know she has a ridiculous conscience. If she suspects there is a rule somewhere, she is obligated to follow it, no matter how senseless. If she fails, she is required to feel guilty. That’s the rule.
Mother, married at eighteen. Within months Daddy moved her into the house with his widowed mother and her two daughters. They were poor and lived in a decrepit unpainted house miles out in the country, not the newlywed home she’d envisioned. To put the icing on the ruined cake, Aunt Julie with her two squalling brats had settled in as well. The house was uncomfortable, Mother felt unwelcome, Daddy was never home except to sleep.
The kids, two and four, whined without ceasing, unless they took a break to throw a fit. One day, she was alone in the room with them and was totally fed up with the whining. She told Yvonne, the oldest, “Stop that squalling or the Boogerman will get you!” To reinforce the lesson, she stepped into the next room, scratched on the door-facing and wailed “Wooooooooo!” The terrified kids shut up immediately.” From then on, when the whining started, she’d give them another little dose of Wooooo, if she got the chance when Aunt Julie wasn’t in the room.
“Why didn’t I ever hear this great story before?” I had to know.
“Because I felt guilty, I guess. I didn’t mean to tell it now. I’m still ashamed,” she confessed.
“Well, you should be. I am sixty-five years old and I could have been enjoying this story my whole life!”
When my first child was born, I suffered from Post Partum Depression. I had expected to welcome him joyfully into my life, but I was so depressed, I wasn’t able to do that. I cared for Continue reading
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