• Bridge Ladies

    Bridge Ladies When I set out to learn about my mother's bridge club, the Jewish octogenarians behind the matching outfits and accessories, I never expected to fall in love with them. This is the story of the ladies, their game, their gen, and the ragged path that led me back to my mother.
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Remember to Let Her Into Your Heart


Thinking about my mother. Thinking about all the mixed messages I received. I think the one that really did me in was that I would be perfect if I was thin. Ha ha ha. I am perfect, mommy dearest. I miss my dead mother so much. I think about her all through the day. What she would like, what she would disdain. My mother was the original hater. She was also gullible and funny and generous and pro-active. She taught me to revere the dictionary and marveled at my similes. She bought me my first typewriter, a Smith-Corona two tone with a side cartridge. Through her eighties, every few weeks, she took a broom and dust pan into the basement to sweep up the dead mice. She said it kept her alive.

Got mommy drama?

10 Responses

  1. yes. my mom was a narcissist and i learned how to ignore, joke, respond matter of factly, rebel, get depressed, etc. etc. in order to deal.

    she trained me well for the next narcissist in my life. these are revelations from a couple years of intensive therapy for which i’m deeply grateful. also, i’m getting a divorce.

  2. “Got mommy drama?”

    Who among us does not?

    My mother could be a terrible, terrorizing tyrant. She scared the whillikers out of my brother and me on many occasions when our dad, the career soldier, was away on deployment.

    She also was very evangelical Protestant, deciding at one point that we were to be Jehovah’s Witnesses. That was a life-changing decision for her and her children.

    I found out after I graduated high school that neighbor kids referred to my house as “The House Where the Crazy Lady Lives.”

    But we always had food, and the house and our laundry were clean.

    At some point she realized the damage she had done, and has spent time trying to make up for it.

    She was of artistic bent. When I was in my early thirties and living in the desolate suburb of Rio Rancho, New Mexico, my own artistic dreams coming to naught, my marriage falling apart, I came to realize what it must have been like for her, stuck in the distant suburb of El Paso, Texas, watching all her pretty dreams fade away. I felt I finally came to understand her.

    She read bedtime stories to my brother and me when we were little. Hearing those stories, seeing that they came from those little marks arrayed upon the page, inspired me to want to craft written stories. Later, when I was in high school and writing for the high school paper, she gave me her typewriter, a Remington Quiet-Riter, which was to remain my typewriter until I finally wore it out when I was in grad school.

    And characters inspired by her have shown up in my fiction, in “apple strudel,” “Christmas Pictures,” “The Collier-Kids,” “Dolomite,” “Georgy-Dear,” and others besides who are either unpublished or whose name eludes me.

    “Mommy drama” — The gift that keeps giving.

  3. You betcha!

    Some of it is in my first book, although not the part where the MC is almost strangled to death. (I’m sure she wished to do so on more than one occasion.) She was a control freak, a neatnik, (obsessively so) and generous to a fault.

    It wasn’t until after my father died, I learned Mom didn’t know how to pump gas into her car – Dad had always done it. She was afraid of thunderstorms, and her Depression era upbringing which made her hoard bread ties, shoelaces and buttons, also meant that she had two or three or sometimes TWELVE of a particular item stored away. (I discovered 12 gallons of a vinegar cleaner she was partial to in the garage after she died)

    She always listened to me, helped me when I needed help. She always answered the phone, and said, “Hello, Me,” because I would leave her messages that started off with “Hey, it’s me . . .”

    I miss her every day.

  4. My mother told me she was harder on me than my brothers so I wouldn’t become a spoiled princess. Once she took a hairbrush to my face leaving deep red scratches down my cheeks. When I came out she said, promise me you won’t be in any of those silly parades, I don’t want to see you in the news one night sitting on some god awful float. She told me I gave her bursitis from hitting me when I said something smart-mouthed. She had dozens of friends, belonged to the local art association and sold a number of her wonderful paintings, could make anything grow so the yard was beautiful and the house was a gorgeous jungle. When her mother died, she didn’t tell me, so I was the only family member not at the funeral. She joined a weight loss group and after every weigh-in, she went with the gals for dinner and dessert. She was an Avon lady and a month after she died my father cried while giving me 5 boxes loaded with ancient Avon products that he found in the basement, thinking I could use these treasures as her only daughter. I packed my car, drove home and threw it all out. She was crazy for my kids when they were babies but had little to do with them as the became school-age.. She married my dad when she was 17, was beautiful and depressed and creative and angry and intelligent and friendly and she loved travel and food and her sisters, and she was totally completely narcissistic until the day she died at home with me holding her as she gasped into the distance, her urine soaking though my shorts and my father in the corner of the room tearing into his hair begging God for a miracle. Everyone loved my mother because she saved her cruelty for me. I tiptoed around her and tried to please her always. I loved her and miss her and wish she was still here, living her best life while I sit in the wings.

  5. I wish I had understood that my mother was an artist and that I had recognized it and thanked her. She never had a chance to follow her heart, but somehow she passed that love on to my sister and me who are both artists. I don’t know if my mother realized her legacy but I’m grateful to her memory every day.

  6. I have nothing bad to say about my mother. If you forced me at gunpoint to criticize her, I would say that she should have paid more attention to her own interests than to mine. The restrictions imposed on women of her generation (and maybe all others) were crimes against humanity. Now, I realize that I was a son, not a daughter, and so the psychological dynamics were different. I am sympathetic, truly, with those whose mothers were unhelpful or worse, but like Gail, my first feeling is that my mother was the victim, not me.

  7. The first piece I ever wrote in hopes of a pub fee was on that Smith Corona, but in earth tones. Didn’t get the $10 editorial fee from The Detroit News Teen page but did gain a best friend and a Beatles adventure of a lifetime.

    As for the Mommy Drama, oh there is plenty. Oil and water. Love and anger. As they say, it’s complicated.

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