Don’t got no mother.
She went and died. Just when I was starting to really like her.
It took me from age 26 to 38 to learn anything. I was a mother, too, then. I was a mother at age 22 and eleven twelfths. But everyone knows age one to three is easy, right?
Don’t get me wrong. My mother didn’t like me either. She was mean. I don’t know why.
She clawed my face once with her fingernails and when worry set in, she told me to tell my teacher the dog did it.
She hit me on top of my head once with a hard hairbrush, and I remember my dad telling her to stop.
That’s about all I remember about him. Unfortunately.
I remember my mother used to go to work at 4 p.m., even though I would cry and beg her not to go.
She left me alone with my father. He was about 50 and slept all evening, starting at 4 p.m. Sometimes he made me Kraft Macaroni & Cheese dinner. Sometimes I don’t remember.
I got a Poodle, Pepe, when I was eight. I don’t remember if he was for me or my mother. They said me. But my dad gave away my dog, Shag, when my mother insisted upon a poodle. Maybe Shag got hit or had cancer or something, and they just didn’t want to tell me. They said I saw my cocker spaniel, Muggs, get hit when I was three, but I don’t remember it.
I don’t remember my mother ever cooking supper. Or baking cookies. Or baking anything.
Once I covered the kitchen floor with pieces of wax paper while she was on the telephone, and I got in trouble. We had a dishwasher, but either it never worked or she refused to use it. I don’t know which.
I ran through the back storm door once when the lights went out. I was scared. I was eleven. My dad called the neighbor lady because I cut my hand. She put a Kotex pad on it, and told my dad to take me to the emergency room. He asked me why I ran through the door. I was scared I’d get in trouble when my mom got home.
She did come home, and she made me a grilled cheese even though it was late. I remember us both saying we were sorry. I don’t remember why I was sorry. But my mom hugged me. It is the only hug I remember until age 29.
My dad couldn’t play with me because he had a bad heart. But he could drive me places when my mom was at work. One night he forgot to pick me up. And he was dead.
My mom didn’t tell me for the longest time. I didn’t know what was wrong with her. When she told me I screamed.
I didn’t want the policeman to leave me alone with her. I was scared. I had to call my adult brothers. I was still eleven. I couldn’t find one of them.
When my mom would get mad, she would yell and say I killed my father because I made him play with me and drive me places when she was at work.
After my dad died, my mom didn’t go to work much. But if I missed the bus (once, because I usually had perfect attendance), she would not take me to school. Or let me walk. We lived two blocks away, and I was still eleven.
When my mom did go to work, she left me with a mean, bug-eyed babysitter. And I was eleven! I didn’t need no babysitter. I was a good girl and a straight A student. I stayed in my room and read and made up school assignments to stay busy.
She got rid of that babysitter and hired one who brought special orange juice in a big pitcher that I couldn’t have. Sometimes my mom didn’t come home until 4 a.m., even though she got done working at 1 a.m.
Sometimes she came home and had orange juice with the babysitter.
Pretty soon I was hiding from my mother until she would pass out.
But then sometimes, I had to call my brothers because I thought she was dead. Especially when she would fall down. Or take a bunch of “nerve pills.” She told me I was the cause of the nerve pills, too.
I hid from my mother until I went to college. She hid in the garage once and waited for me when I came home from a date. I was 16 or 18. She tried to strangle me outside and broke my necklace instead. I liked boys. They were not mean. Usually. I liked my teachers. They were not mean. Although three different ones kissed me, starting in eighth grade. I didn’t mind, I guess.
My mom called the boy I liked most in the world in 11th grade and yelled at him for not taking me to a dance. I wanted to die. He was gay, and he did die at age 48. I didn’t figure out he was gay until we were 40. I always wondered why he never kissed me the entire prom weekend. I thought I had bad breath for twenty years. Or was ugly. But I wasn’t. I was a pretty girl. But no one ever told me. So I didn’t know in time to enjoy it.
She called to yell at the boy because I had rear-ended some lady, and I said it was because I was upset about the dance. Really I was upset because I was scared to tell my mom I had a wreck. It messed up my thirteen-year-old rusty car and broke the lights. I don’t think it hurt the lady’s car. But I was scared. It was my first wreck.
My mom wouldn’t let me live at college. I don’t know why. I had all A’s but feel lucky to have gone to college. I don’t even know how I got there. I had to drive back and forth, and then hide from my mom and her special-orange-juice-which-had graduated-to-wine at night.
Finally, someone convinced her to let me move on campus. But then she would call at 4 a.m. and say she was killing herself. And I would have to hang up so my roommate could sleep.
Then I didn’t speak to my mom for six or seven years. I didn’t speak to her at my father’s mother’s funeral. My dad was long dead. My grandmother wasn’t presently speaking to me because I had borrowed $500 to get divorced and hadn’t paid her back yet. (She had given me all cash from a box in her closet where she kept many hundreds more). She was the only grandparent living when I was born. She liked my older brothers better because they were adults I guess.
I don’t remember what it was exactly that made me speak to my mother again. By then my childhood home (age three to nineteen to not speaking) was gone. My Barbies were gone. Pepe was gone. She said he froze to death solid outside. Who puts a poodle outside? A poodle with registration papers.
My mom stopped drinking, I think. So we could speak. And I had two children and a husband. And she had a strange, sickly but kind of nice and funny man who lived with her. I never knew what to make of him. And then he got crazy. And then he died. And she didn’t even go to the funeral, I don’t think.
But my mom didn’t start drinking again. Although she was depressed and lonely. And then she moved even farther away. She had a dog she kept in the laundry room. I would let it out when we visited. It was fat as a sheep.
She needed lots of help. She didn’t have any money. She had a stroke. She had cataracts. She had slightly dishonest sons, all three of them. They took valuables from her before and after she died. But they tried to help her, too, I guess.
Then she up and died. Got hit by a train. When I get really mad and lonely, I sometimes (just to myself) blame my brother, because he was driving her to a casino he wanted to play and she had no money. He ran over the tracks without stopping. But they had no warning arms.
And then he died later anyway. Found him at the cemetery, with a plaque and everything. Three relatives all in a row. And six lots left to me by my mom that I didn’t want. Don’t still. The lots, that is. I guess she thought I’d need them. Another brother died, but he had his own lot somewhere else. Her dog died later too, another cocker spaniel, the one from the laundry room, but my ex-sister-in-law took care of that. When my cat died, I got her an engraved headstone.
So my mother and I were just starting to get along. We liked some of the same things. A mother is the only one who knows you. I think she was sorry for being mean and drinking, although she never said. She liked my kids and my husband. I think they all kind of liked her, grandparents and in-laws being in short supply.
She (my mom) was supposed to go on vacation with us once. I wanted to take her to the beach. She never went anywhere. Ever. We had plans. She turned us down when we stopped to pick her up. I was really disappointed. It was going to be fun. So I took the afghan her sister had made when I was eight and used it in the car. But I never returned it. I think she had made it for me anyway. I still have it. Sort of.
So she died 13 years ago. There was a lot unsaid. But I’m not very good at saying stuff either. And maybe that’s the reason I find myself all alone on Mother’s Day.