Submit your work, meet writers and drop the ads. Become a member
2010 one last remark about Mom she’s never had faith or trust in me she always doubts redirects me when i was little she continuously blamed me accusing me of being sick needing a psychiatrist at age 20 my parents committed me for disciplinary reasons to the Institute of Living a psychiatric hospital in Hartford Connecticut in a locked ward for 4 months Mom and Dad discouraged my aspirations to succeed as a painter/writer arguing the impracticality of my decision they thumbs downed Bayli even today she undermines my efforts to love protect her she scolds me for asking permission from my cousin Chris to allow his son Maynard to fly down here and help me pack then drive up to Chicago so i might get to know Maynard on a road trip she instructs hire professional packers for a $100. they’ll be glad to help you pack Mom has always stood in the way of my choices decisions



1975 Chicago in his parent’s kitchen Mom offers the cannolis are fresh from Kanella’s Bakery or try the chocolate fudge cake it’s absolutely delicious Odysseus replies are you trying to fatten me up or **** me with sweets Mom flirtatiously teases i’ve always been about your ruination Odys



2001 Tucson Mom comes for visit at Thanksgiving in her early 80s walking proud yet painfully on displaced hips she is an inspiration to Odysseus her eyes are clouded with cataracts yet she sees life as an eternal optimist since 1920 the world has changed so drastically yet Mom has learned to accept many things she previously did not tolerate she lives prudently on modest fixed income her fingers are arthritically deformed but she was once a great beauty many men desired her Odysseus asks if it was difficult for Mom to lose the power of her physical desirability he noticed her good looks waning in her 50s she answers she sensed her  attraction going in her 70s she still possesses regal qualities and is quite socially charming she chatters a flurry of familiar names events that keep her busy she travels around by herself Mom’s spirit endures but in reality she drifts further away with each passing season she is delicate and has difficulty remembering she echoes a distant past in the early evening of Thanksgiving Day they sit at table of elegant yet rather staid dining room of Mom’s choosing at Arizona Inn she says it reminds her of the way things used to be she wears tasteful black linen slacks black pumps thin silk knitted black turtleneck with string of pearls gold earrings her blonde hair coiffured in same fluffy sprayed style it has been for 50 years in his heart he knows a part of her wishes her son was more like Tom Steinberg who was a senior when Odysseus was a freshman at River Woods Academy The Steinbergs and Mom are still friendly Tom is a successful investment banker with a wife and child living in Winnetka Mom nervously touches the pearl strand around her neck she says you know Mort Rock’s wife Phyllis died i was such a good friend to her at her funeral they read how she said i was her best friend she left me 10 lousy thousand dollars in her will she’s worth millions it’s eating me up inside i needed that money desperately i can’t stop thinking about it 10 lousy thousand dollars went immediately to pay off loans i’m going to sell my jewelry i don’t know what i can get in the spring i’ll put the apartment up for sale or try to get a reverse mortgage from the bank i never told you kids before i’m not in good shape Odysseus comments i feel terrible i wish so much i could help maybe Phyllis Rock suspected you and her husband maybe all those years you were her best friend she read it as guilt and obligation Mom you need to be more truthful Mom cuts in i never had *** with Mort Rock that man drove me crazy he was nuts for me Mom orders the traditional turkey dinner Odysseus orders the Macadamia nut encrusted Hawaiian fish the waiter brings price fixed appetizers little circles of toasted bread with lightly browned melted cheese tiny triangular cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches roasted watercress nuts wrapped in bacon and little hot dogs pierced with fluffy ended toothpicks Mom begins to gobble as she remarks to Odysseus  why do you want to wear your hair like that? you look like you escaped from the camps Odysseus asks what camps are you referring to Mom? she replies the Concentration Camps! you’re a good-looking man and you still have a full head of hair why do you want to shave it off i don’t understand i think you should move back to Chicago Tucson has done nothing to offer look at you you’re all alone you don’t have any friends come home and be your old self again he answers my old self you don’t get it do you Mom do you remember my commodity trading debacle or my 40th birthday or you and aunt Rita’s ceaseless corrections Mom smugly retorts what do you mean your 40th birthday don’t you get smart with me you should be ashamed of yourself why must you keep bringing up the past you need to let go of the past you go into such details details i don’t remember what does it matter now it’s history we only wanted what we thought was best for you you never listened you were only interested in yourself plenty of other kids get beaten and come through just fine you don’t know what it’s like to be a parent it tears me up inside you talk like you had nothing to do with it i can’t take this abuse from you anymore her misshapen fingers hands begin trembling as her voice emotes you think i don’t realize we made mistakes with you you think we were such monsters i wasn’t a good mother i was a lousy ***** is that what you think answer me what are you a bump on a log Odysseus sits stiff in chair his voice shrinks he just sits there his legs shake under table Mom says your father was quick-tempered we were under so much financial pressure maybe we did send you away too soon if i had to do it again i’d do it differently what does it matter now it’s 50 years ago forget the past what do you want from me what can i do he listens silently wondering if Mom seeks some kind of redemption can her conceit permit it he knows he is ******* her he does not mean to be uncomfortable with his muteness Mom continues you were a difficult child remember all the trouble you caused look at you you’re still a difficult man he questions Mom can you hear yourself you think i’m difficult she answers you think we were such terrible parents you grew up in a house of violence his thumb and forefinger nervously touch his chin as he replies no you were good parents i was a problem child different from you you afforded me a beautiful home and brilliant education i wanted to investigate life and learn and grow you didn’t know what to do with a child like that as much as she tries Mom never has been a comfort for Odysseus or he for her he inadvertently stirs her to worry or snap and she in turn unthinkingly disturbs him nevertheless they love each other the waiter brings out salads Mom ordered iceberg lettuce with thousand island dressing Odysseus chose the spinach salad he takes several bites Mom remarks use your salad fork not your dinner fork you know better than that suddenly it occurs to him Mom is more fragile than he he thinks to himself silently Mom i realize your life is closing in on you your mind drifts and you need to fake and cover-up more than ever do you want me to come home and take care of you i will take care of you then he remembers how miserable they were together during his throat cancer recovery in her 3 bedroom Lake Shore Drive condominium immersed in contemplation he pushes the fork through spinach leafs Mom says sit up in the chair and put a smile on your face she self-consciously peeks around the room having lost his appetite Odysseus looks down at napkin on his lap glances at half-eaten salad bowl he gazes up at Mom the waiter arrives making a pained smile he clears the salads then serves the entrees after the waiter departs Mom speaks Odys look at me when i’m talking to you i think about a lot of things i should have done after the fact sometimes even years later Max and i made a lot of incorrect choices when it came to you he cuts in Mom you don’t have to say anymore i love you always have loved you and know you love me too Mom says you know how much i appreciate your paintings you’ve made my life richer i‘ve always been supportive of you in fact i’m your biggest fan right Odys right? thank you Mom i’m grateful Mom says i’ve spoken with psychiatrists and they all tell me the same answer tell your son to forget it why must you dwell in the past what did we do so dreadfully wrong i don’t understand you’re a hard case i wish i could get through to you i hope you can find it in your heart to forgive us you’ll sleep better he questions you know about my insomnia restless sleep nightmares Mom says i can imagine Odysseus’s eyes begin to water Mom i love you i wouldn’t be who i am without you Mom says don’t get so emotional you sound weak take it from me you must be strong in life learn discipline and willpower i love you too son Odysseus wonders if maybe he agitates Mom because he is a constant liability lacking fiscal self-reliance deep down Mom is a giggling gossiping playful girl spoiled by her father she never wanted to grow up and be burdened with the tasks of parenthood what woman of rare beauty and charm would want to give up her privilege and freedom for some kid especially a *******-up kid maybe deep down Mom resents Odysseus he stares down at the Macadamia nut encrusted Hawaiian fish and silently prays he will be released from his life all his stupid sins regrets self-pity self-hatred his vain inconsequential existence



i move organize empty shelves cabinets drawers closets edit wrap tape pack wonder if moving back to Chicago is one more mistake heaped on top of a 1000 mistakes a 1,000,000 mistakes is going home to help Mom my biggest mistake ever i simply know i must try to protect my Mom
april 11 1952 Mom gives birth to beautiful blue-eyed girl Mom takes name Penelope from Great-Grandma Penny who died week after Odysseus was born Mom and Dad are not educated to know greek mythology and homer it is odd coincidence they picked Odysseus’s name out of book of names thought it sounded strong  anglo old money Odysseus is thrilled to have sister to share childhood with when Odysseus is 6 and Penelope is 4 Grandma Betty invites them to visit her house block away she serves them oatmeal cookies orange juice shows them her latest small painting of field brightly colored flowers birds in sky lower left corner is horse or dog painting is still wet she shows them magazine picture she copied from Odysseus realizes it is pony in lower left corner when they return home Mom yells at Odysseus “where were you? why didn’t you think to call or leave message with Teresa? do you have any idea what a nervous wreck you’ve made me!” she slaps hard Odysseus’s face reprimands “don’t i have enough to worry about without you pulling something like this? you only think about yourself it’s so typical of your selfishness wait until your father gets home he’ll deal with you now go to your room!" every time he gets caught in mistake he is punished the drill is Mom gets upset with Odysseus flies into rage yells slaps him around threatens him with Dad gets home has a few drinks Mom tells Dad explodes beats Odysseus Mom is judge jury Dad is executioner afterward Dad goes back into living room pours another drink sits in celadon green lounge chair Odysseus is trained to wipe tears put on pajamas go to Dad apologize admit fault promise to be good kisses Dad and Mom goodnight goes to bed that is the drill

Odysseus is barefaced curious exploring discovering tries to connect with Mom and Dad but they are unavailable they are his parents not his friends as far back as he can remember he lives in world of “it’s safe free here Mom and Dad can’t see us” children are smarter than parents think figure ways to self-protect something stirs inside Odysseus creature separate from Dad and Mom whatever psychological or emotional patterns are developing he does not understand obediently goes along

Mom and Granny Mattie take Odysseus and Penelope to browse shops on oak street at one store little statuette like kind Granny Mattie collects catches Odtsseus’s eye he slips it in pocket on drive home he takes statuette out to show Penelope she asks where he got it Mom Granny Mattie overhear ask Odysseus where he got statuette he confesses took it from store Mom gets livid steers car back to oak street Granny Mattie insists “it’s just a figurine let him keep it Odysseus meant no harm i don’t see why you want to make such a big fuss Jenny!” Mom replies “he’s got to learn right from wrong!” they all return to store mom explains to sales clerk what son has done Odysseus hands back figurine apologizes when Dad gets home he dishes out punishment years later Penelope remarks “that was the first time i realized Odys you needed to reach out for something beyond the family”

Odysseus wants to die he is 7 years old and wants to die he knows his life is critically messed up wants new different existence person he is becoming is too error prone ruined already he is way too ******* himself Dad’s temper Mom’s criticisms subsequent self-absorbed social demands drive him to ideas of suicide Dad and Mom are too busy to notice Mom always uses sleeping pills placidal nebutal seconal miltown whatever is the latest Mom says she does not dream Odysseus guesses she does not remember her dreams on account of those pills everyone dreams years later Mom remarks i need sleeping pills to forget about you Odys as Mom describes “i run a formal beautiful household” she delegates chores to weekly staff of brown skin ladies it is house of feminine décor matching pillows sheets pulled tight under elegant bedspreads everything put away in proper place furniture in precise order little dinner bell servant’s foot buzzer beneath Mom’s chair at dining room table maids in servitude once a week white woman with big shoulders foreign accent shows up to give Mom massage Mom is not to be disturbed during that hour Odysseus knows first names of each laundress cleaning lady doormen deskmen garage men janitors caterers at holidays tall black effeminate John comes twice a month on sunday to cook serve traditional american breakfast along with fried bananas apples afterward he cleans up shines silver first 13 years of Odysseus’s life are lived in buildings with elevators staff of residence employees

Mom’s closet is vast with colors textures ground level hundred or more neatly arranged clear plastic boxes containing pairs of expensive shoes walls of imported French and Italian designer label dresses skirts suits blouses top shelf fashionable purses hats other feminine accoutrements also two large dresser chests filled with drawers of sweaters scarves girdles lingerie hosiery more accessories Mom often wears joy by jean patou arpege by lanvin chanel # 5 Mom shops at saks bonwit teller occasionally marshall fields within several years most of her buying will be done at fantastico, exclusive import boutique on oak street clothes jewelry cosmetics are important to her but most important is hair she prefers bottle blonde color wears hair trimmed medium length fluffed up sprayed fixed as do many women of her generation social stature she visits beauty salon twice a week must enjoy letting her guard down with other women while being served by homosexual men her hair prevents her from driving in car with top down all other outdoor activities that might threaten hairdo Penelope mimics Mom though she keeps her things in less tidy fashion she is being groomed to be queen like mom maybe Mom is more sympathetic to Penelope because both innately share female experience Mom portrays herself as lady of elegance Penelope is different from Mom more earthy bumbling routinely scratches Odysseus’s records leaves her drawers messy Mom takes baths so her hair will not be disturbed Dad takes showers Odysseus and Penelope take baths together then apart as they grow bigger ****** is normal in Schwartzpilgrim household Dad hints reserve Odysseus follows takes showers Mom leaves bathroom door open while bathing she is constantly changing clothes traipsing around in robes slippers elegant silk lingerie
Victor D López Dec 2018
You were born five years before the Spanish Civil War that would see your father exiled.
Language came later to you than your little brother Manuel. And you stuttered for a time.
Unlike those who speak incessantly with nothing to say, you were quiet and reserved.
Your mother mistook shyness for dimness, a tragic mistake that scarred you for life.

When your brother Manuel died at the age of three from meningitis, you heard your mom
Exclaim: “God took my bright boy and left me the dull one.” You were four or five.
You never forgot those words. How could you? Yet you loved your mom with all your heart.
But you also withdrew further into a shell, solitude your companion and best friend.

You were, in fact, an exceptional child. Stuttering went away at five or so never to return,
And by the time you were in middle school, your teacher called your mom in for a rare
Conference and told her that yours was a gifted mind, and that you should be prepared
For university study in the sciences, particularly engineering.

She wrote your father exiled in Argentina to tell him the good news, that your teachers
Believed you would easily gain entrance to the (then and now) highly selective public university
Where seats were few, prized and very difficult to attain based on merit-based competitive
Exams. Your father’s response? “Buy him a couple of oxen and let him plow the fields.”

That reply from a highly respected man who was a big fish in a tiny pond in his native Oleiros
Of the time is beyond comprehension. He had apparently opted to preserve his own self-
Interest in having his son continue his family business and also work the family lands in his
Absence. That scar too was added to those that would never heal in your pure, huge heart.

Left with no support for living expenses for college (all it would have required), you moved on,
Disappointed and hurt, but not angry or bitter; you would simply find another way.
You took the competitive exams for the two local military training schools that would provide
An excellent vocational education and pay you a small salary in exchange for military service.

Of hundreds of applicants for the prized few seats in each of the two institutions, you
Scored first for the toughest of the two and thirteenth for the second. You had your pick.
You chose Fabrica de Armas, the lesser of the two, so that a classmate who had scored just
Below the cut-off at the better school could be admitted. That was you. Always and forever.

At the military school, you were finally in your element. You were to become a world-class
Machinist there—a profession that would have gotten you well paid work anywhere on earth
For as long as you wanted it. You were truly a mechanical genius who years later would add
Electronics, auto mechanics and specialized welding to his toolkit through formal training.

Given a well-stocked machine shop, you could reverse engineer every machine without
Blueprints and build a duplicate machine shop. You became a gifted master mechanic
And worked in line and supervisory positions at a handful of companies throughout your life in
Argentina and in the U.S., including Westinghouse, Warner-Lambert, and Pepsi Co.

You loved learning, especially in your fields (electronics, mechanics, welding) and expected
Perfection in everything you did. Every difficult job at work was given to you everywhere you
Worked. You would not sleep at night when a problem needed solving. You’d sketch
And calculate and re-sketch solutions and worked even in your dreams with singular passion.

You were more than a match for the academic and physical rigors of military school,
But life was difficult for you in the Franco era when some instructors would
Deprecatingly refer to you as “Roxo”—Galician for “red”-- reflecting your father’s
Support for the failed Republic. Eventually, the abuse was too much for you to bear.

Once while standing at attention in a corridor with the other cadets waiting for
Roll call, you were repeatedly poked in the back surreptitiously. Moving would cause
Demerits and demerits could cause loss of points on your final grade and arrest for
Successive weekends. You took it awhile, then lost your temper.

You turned to the cadet behind you and in a fluid motion grabbed him by his buttoned jacket
And one-handedly hung him up on a hook above a window where you were standing in line.
He thrashed about, hanging by the back of his jacket, until he was brought down by irate Military instructors.
You got weekend arrest for many weeks and a 10% final grade reduction.

A similar fate befell a co-worker a few years later in Buenos Aires who called you a
*******. You lifted him one handed by his throat and held him there until
Your co-workers intervened, forcibly persuading you to put him down.
That lesson was learned by all in no uncertain terms: Leave Felipe’s mom alone.

You were incredibly strong, especially in your youth—no doubt in part because of rigorous farm
Work, military school training and competitive sports. As a teenager, you once unwisely bent
Down to pick something up in view of a ram, presenting the animal an irresistible target.
It butted you and sent you flying into a haystack. It, too, quickly learned its lesson.

You dusted yourself off, charged the ram, grabbed it by the horns and twirled it around once,
Throwing it atop the same haystack as it had you. The animal was unhurt, but learned to
Give you a wide berth from that day forward. Overall, you were very slow to anger absent
Head-butting, repeated pokings, or disrespectful references to your mom by anyone.    

I seldom saw you angry and it was mom, not you, who was the disciplinarian, slipper in hand.
There were very few slaps from you for me. Mom would smack my behind with a slipper often
When I was little, mostly because I could be a real pain, wanting to know/try/do everything
Completely oblivious to the meaning of the word “no” or of my own limitations.

Mom would sometimes insist you give me a proper beating. On one such occasion for a
Forgotten transgression when I was nine, you  took me to your bedroom, took off your belt, sat
Me next to you and whipped your own arm and hand a few times, whispering to me “cry”,
Which I was happy to do unbidden. “Don’t tell mom.” I did not. No doubt she knew.

The prospect of serving in a military that considered you a traitor by blood became harder and
Harder to bear, and in the third year of school, one year prior to graduation, you left to join
Your exiled father in Argentina, to start a new life. You left behind a mother and two sisters you
Dearly loved to try your fortune in a new land. Your dog thereafter refused food, dying of grief.

You arrived in Buenos Aires to see a father you had not seen for ten years at the age of 17.
You were too young to work legally, but looked older than your years (a shared trait),
So you lied about your age and immediately found work as a Machinist/Mechanic first grade.
That was unheard of and brought you some jealousy and complaints in the union shop.

The union complained to the general manager about your top-salary and rank. He answered,
“I’ll give the same rank and salary to anyone in the company who can do what Felipe can do.”
No doubt the jealousy and grumblings continued by some for a time. But there were no takers.
And you soon won the group over, becoming their protected “baby-brother” mascot.

Your dad left for Spain within a year or so of your arrival when Franco issued a general pardon
To all dissidents who had not spilt blood (e.g., non combatants). He wanted you to return to
Help him reclaim the family business taken over by your mom in his absence with your help.
But you refused to give up the high salary, respect and independence denied you at home.

You were perhaps 18 and alone, living in a single room by a schoolhouse you had shared with Your dad.
But you had also found a new loving family in your uncle José, one of your father’s Brothers, and his family. José, and one of his daughters, Nieves and her
Husband, Emilio, and
Their children, Susana, Oscar (Ruben Gordé), and Osvaldo, became your new nuclear family.

You married mom in 1955 and had two failed business ventures in the quickly fading
Post-WW II Argentina of the late 1950s and early 1960s.The first, a machine shop, left
You with a small fortune in unpaid government contract work.  The second, a grocery store,
Also failed due to hyperinflation and credit extended too easily to needy customers.

Throughout this, you continued earning an exceptionally good salary. But in the mid 1960’s,
Nearly all of it went to pay back creditors of the failed grocery store. We had some really hard
Times. Someday I’ll write about that in some detail. Mom went to work as a maid, including for
Wealthy friends, and you left home at 4:00 a.m. to return long after dark to pay the bills.


The only luxury you and mom retained was my Catholic school tuition. There was no other
Extravagance. Not paying bills was never an option for you or mom. It never entered your
Minds. It was not a matter of law or pride, but a matter of honor. There were at least three very
Lean years where you and mom worked hard, earned well but we were truly poor.

You and mom took great pains to hide this from me—and suffered great privations to insulate
Me as best you could from the fallout of a shattered economy and your refusal to cut your loses
Had done to your life savings and to our once-comfortable middle-class life.
We came to the U.S. in the late 1960s after waiting for more than three years for visas—to a new land of hope.

Your sister and brother-in-law, Marisa and Manuel, made their own sacrifices to help bring us
Here. You had about $1,000 from the down payment on our tiny down-sized house, And
Mom’s pawned jewelry. (Hyperinflation and expenses ate up the remaining mortgage payments
Due). Other prized possessions were left in a trunk until you could reclaim them. You never did.

Even the airline tickets were paid for by Marisa and Manuel. You insisted upon arriving on
Written terms for repayment including interest. You were hired on the spot on your first
Interview as a mechanic, First Grade, despite not speaking a word of English. Two months later,
The debt was repaid, mom was working too and we moved into our first apartment.

You worked long hours, including Saturdays and daily overtime, to remake a nest egg.
Declining health forced you to retire at 63 and shortly thereafter you and mom moved out of
Queens into Orange County. You bought a townhouse two hours from my permanent residence
Upstate NY and for the next decade were happy, traveling with friends and visiting us often.

Then things started to change. Heart issues (two pacemakers), colon cancer, melanoma,
Liver and kidney disease caused by your many medications, high blood pressure, gout,
Gall bladder surgery, diabetes . . . . And still you moved forward, like the Energizer Bunny,
Patched up, battered, scarred, bruised but unstoppable and unflappable.

Then mom started to show signs of memory loss along with her other health issues. She was
Good at hiding her own ailments, and we noticed much later than we should have that there
Was a serious problem. Two years ago, her dementia worsening but still functional, she had
Gall bladder surgery with complications that required four separate surgeries in three months.

She never recovered and had to be placed in a nursing home. Several, in fact, as at first she
Refused food and you and I refused to simply let her waste away, which might have been
Kinder, but for the fact that “mientras hay vida, hay esperanza” as Spaniards say.
(While there is Life there is hope.) There is nothing beyond the power of God. Miracles do happen.

For two years you lived alone, refusing outside help, engendering numerous arguments about
Having someone go by a few times a week to help clean, cook, do chores. You were nothing if
Not stubborn (yet another shared trait). The last argument on the subject about two weeks ago
Ended in your crying. You’d accept no outside help until mom returned home. Period.

You were in great pain because of bulging discs in your spine and walked with one of those
Rolling seats with handlebars that mom and I picked out for you some years ago. You’d sit
As needed when the pain was too much, then continue with very little by way of complaints.
Ten days ago you finally agreed that you needed to get to the hospital to drain abdominal fluid.

Your failing liver produced it and it swelled your abdomen and lower extremities to the point
Where putting on shoes or clothing was very difficult, as was breathing. You called me from a
Local store crying that you could not find pants that would fit you. We talked, long distance,
And I calmed you down, as always, not allowing you to wallow in self pity but trying to help.

You went home and found a new pair of stretch pants Alice and I had bought you and you were
Happy. You had two changes of clothes that still fit to take to the hospital. No sweat, all was
Well. The procedure was not dangerous and you’d undergone it several times in recent years.
It would require a couple of days at the hospital and I’d see you again on the weekend.

I could not be with you on Monday, February 22 when you had to go to the hospital, as I nearly
Always had, because of work. You were supposed to be admitted the previous Friday, but
Doctors have days off too, and yours could not see you until Monday when I could not get off
Work. But you were not concerned; this was just routine. You’d be fine. I’d see you in just days.

We’d go see mom Friday, when you’d be much lighter and feel much better. Perhaps we’d go
Shopping for clothes if the procedure still left you too bloated for your usual clothes.
You drove to your doctor and then transported by ambulette. I was concerned, but not too Worried.
You called me sometime between five or six p.m. to tell me you were fine, resting.

“Don’t worry. I’m safe here and well cared for.” We talked for a little while about the usual
Things, with my assuring you I’d see you Friday or Saturday. You were tired and wanted to sleep
And I told you to call me if you woke up later that night or I’d speak to you the following day.
Around 10:00 p.m. I got a call from your cell and answered in the usual upbeat manner.

“Hey, Papi.” On the other side was a nurse telling me my dad had fallen. I assured her she was
Mistaken, as my dad was there for a routine procedure to drain abdominal fluid. “You don’t
Understand. He fell from his bed and struck his head on a nightstand or something
And his heart has stopped. We’re working on him for 20 minutes and it does not look good.”

“Can you get here?” I could not. I had had two or three glasses of wine shortly before the call
With dinner. I could not drive the three hours to Middletown. I cried. I prayed.
Fifteen minutes Later I got the call that you were gone. Lost in grief, not knowing what to do, I called my wife.
Shortly thereafter came a call from the coroner. An autopsy was required. I could not see you.

Four days later your body was finally released to the funeral director I had selected for his
Experience with the process of interment in Spain. I saw you for the last time to identify
Your body. I kissed my fingers and touched your mangled brow. I could not even have the
Comfort of an open casket viewing. You wanted cremation. You body awaits it as I write this.

You were alone, even in death alone. In the hospital as strangers worked on you. In the medical
Examiner’s office as you awaited the autopsy. In the autopsy table as they poked and prodded
And further rent your flesh looking for irrelevant clues that would change nothing and benefit
No one, least of all you. I could not be with you for days, and then only for a painful moment.

We will have a memorial service next Friday with your ashes and a mass on Saturday. I will
Never again see you in this life. Alice and I will take you home to your home town, to the
Cemetery in Oleiros, La Coruña, Spain this summer. There you will await the love of your life.
Who will join you in the fullness of time. She could not understand my tears or your passing.

There is one blessing to dementia. She asks for her mom, and says she is worried because she
Has not come to visit in some time. She is coming, she assures me whenever I see her.
You visited her every day except when health absolutely prevented it. You spent this February 10
Apart, your 61st wedding anniversary, too sick to visit her. Nor was I there. First time.

I hope you did not realize you were apart on the 10th but doubt it to be the case. I
Did not mention it, hoping you’d forgotten, and neither did you. You were my link to mom.
She cannot dial or answer a phone, so you would put your cell phone to her ear whenever I
Was not in class or meetings and could speak to her. She always recognized me by phone.

I am three hours from her. I could visit at most once or twice a month. Now even that phone
Lifeline is severed. Mom is completely alone, afraid, confused, and I cannot in the short term at
Least do much about that. You were not supposed to die first. It was my greatest fear, and
Yours, but as with so many things that we cannot change I put it in the back of my mind.

It kept me up many nights, but, like you, I still believed—and believe—in miracles.
I would speak every night with my you, often for an hour, on the way home from work late at
Night during my hour-long commute, or from home on days I worked from home as I cooked
Dinner. I mostly let you talk, trying to give you what comfort and social outlet I could.

You were lonely, sad, stuck in an endless cycle of emotional and physical pain.
Lately you were especially reticent to get off the phone. When mom was home and still
Relatively well, I’d call every day too but usually spoke to you only a few minutes and you’d
Transfer the phone to mom, with whom I usually chatted much longer.

For months, you’d had difficulty hanging up. I knew you did not want to go back to the couch,
To a meaningless TV program, or to writing more bills. You’d say good-bye, or “enough for
Today” and immediately begin a new thread, then repeat the cycle, sometimes five or six times.
You even told me, at least once crying recently, “Just hang up on me or I’ll just keep talking.”

I loved you, dad, with all my heart. We argued, and I’d often scream at you in frustration,
Knowing you would never take it to heart and would usually just ignore me and do as
You pleased. I knew how desperately you needed me, and I tried to be as patient as I could.
But there were days when I was just too tired, too frustrated, too full of other problems.

There were days when I got frustrated with you just staying on the phone for an hour when I
Needed to call Alice, to eat my cold dinner, or even to watch a favorite program. I felt guilty
And very seldom cut a conversation short, but I was frustrated nonetheless even knowing
How much you needed me and also how much I needed you, and how little you asked of me.  

How I would love to hear your voice again, even if you wanted to complain about the same old
Things or tell me in minutest detail some unimportant aspect of your day. I thought I would
Have you at least a little longer. A year? Two? God only knew, and I could hope. There would be
Time. I had so much more to share with you, so much more to learn when life eased up a bit.

You taught me to fish (it did not take) and to hunt (that took even less) and much of what I
Know about mechanics, and electronics. We worked on our cars together for years—from brake
Jobs, to mufflers, to real tune-ups in the days when points, condensers, and timing lights had Meaning, to rebuilding carburetors and fixing rust and dents, and power windows and more.

We were friends, good friends, who went on Sunday drives to favorite restaurants or shopping
For tools when I was single and lived at home. You taught me everything in life that I need to
Know about all the things that matter. The rest is meaningless paper and window dressing.
I knew all your few faults and your many colossal strengths and knew you to be the better man.

Not even close. I could never do what you did. I could never excel in my fields as you did in
Yours.  You were the real deal in every way, from every angle, throughout your life. I did not
Always treat you that way. But I loved you very deeply as anyone who knew us knows.
More importantly, you knew it. I told you often, unembarrassed in the telling. I love you, Dad.

The world was enriched by your journey. You do not leave behind wealth, or a body or work to
Outlive you. You never had your fifteen minutes in the sun. But you mattered. God knows your
Virtue, your absolute integrity, and the purity of your heart. I will never know a better man.
I will love you and miss you and carry you in my heart every day of my life. God bless you, dad.
Jean Sullivan Jan 2016
He would come home from work with Shel Silverstein poems and candy cigarettes.
My brother always took the fake cancer sticks and left Shel for me.
I would make origami swans out of MASKS,
and paper hats out of The Giving Tree.
All the windows were always open in the house,
and the breeze would stir up the wind chimes hung both indoors and out.
Mom was always painting in the dining room or on the porch,
and dad would bring a new canvas home for her every week.
At night we would all eat dinner in the living room and watch Jeopardy,
and mom and dad would sit really close to each other and try to answer the questions on the TV.

Sometimes he came home from work with roses for mom because she was pregnant,
and we got our first family photo taken,
and we hung it above our fireplace like rich people did.
One day dad didn’t bring a new canvas for mom so, she painted the couch,
and they argued,
and my brother and I began to build blanket forts in our bedroom,
and we drew signs that said no moms or dads allowed,
Mom started getting too tired to cook dinner, so
dad would make everyone quick meals,
and he would sit on the lazy-boy instead of on the sofa next to mom.

Sometimes he would come home from work with bags.
Not shopping bags, but bags under his eyes from working two shifts.
At home he would fall onto the painted couch and sleep most of the day.
Mom began visiting my grandma by herself,
and while dad was asleep my brother and I would chase geese in the yard,
And sometimes we would catch one and we put it in dads room.
It started getting colder outside so we closed all the windows in the house,
but the outdoor wind chimes kept dancing in their music through the fall.
Mom and dad started yelling at each other more and more,
and mom was getting really big.

Sometimes dad would never leave for work.
He stayed inside all day and played video games on the TV,
and mom was still sour about dad not buying her new canvas boards,
and she painted the TV screen when dad was in the shower.
They yelled for a long time,
and my brother and I stayed a few nights at my grandmas with mom.
Mom went into early labor,
and my brother and I sat in a hospital waiting room for eight hours.
Dad showed up to see my new sister be born,
and things were okay again for a little bit.

Sometimes he would come home with big hugs and a last minute fishing trip,
and mom asked him to stay, but he wouldn’t.
Grandma came over to babysit my brother and I so mom could go to a party,
and we built another blanket fort, only this time it was in the livingroom,
and we rented The Passion of The Christ,
and I dreamt that dad was going to sell me for thirty silver pieces.
Mom came home really late and wobbled in a pair of black stilettos towards her bedroom,
and dad came home two weeks later,
and mom and dad screamed at each other,
and mom flushed her wedding ring down the toilet.

Sometimes he hated coming home,
and the neighbor with eight fingers started flirting with mom,
and  he would pretend that he was gonna cut my fingers like his,
and for some reason mom laughed at that violent gag.
My brother and I sat by the door at night in case dad came home,
and the new baby liked to cry a lot.
And one day I snuck up on mom to scare her, and
she was holding broken glass from the family photo to her face.
I told my brother and he thought that maybe she was just trying to shave,
like dad use to.

Sometimes he stopped coming home,
and mom lost the house and moved us into the car.
The eight fingered man got into a fight with mom,
and he syphoned our gas twice.
One day I saw dad in the Meijer parking lot,
and he was with a blonde woman,
whose **** were literally bigger than her head.
I woke mom up and told her,
and she drove to a different lot.

Sometimes he never called me or my brother,
and mom met someone new,
and the new guy had baggy pants and an obsession with football.
And mom got pregnant again,
and the new blonde hair blue eyed baby looked nothing like his dark skinned father,
and we moved into a house again.
My brother and I stopped mentioning our dad to each other,
and the windows in the new house were nailed shut.
Mom was always tired, falling asleep on the toilet or while cooking dinner.
I noticed that gradually we began living with more and more painted furniture.

Sometimes he would write a letter to us,
and mom said if it were a letter then it’s probably from the jail,
and no one ever told me why he went to jail.
My brother and I never wrote back to him,
and I caught my new step-dad burning the old family photo.
One day dad called the house,
and he said he wanted to see us,
and talking to him felt like talking to a stranger.
Mom and the step-dad began collecting small orange bottles,
and at night they locked themselves in their room.
My brother and I would make beds in the livingroom,
and all my siblings would sleep on the floor together.

Sometimes I think about my childhood,
and I’m okay with how things turned out.
I know to fully appreciate the calm of an open window,
and I often write people letters now.
I don’t have the time to see mom and dad much anymore,
but I often feel sorry for them and their aimlessness.
I visit my siblings on weeks when I can,
and I try hard to love them the best that I can.
I’ve forgiven the things that might seem unfair,
I’ve moved on to a new life,
It’s better, I swear


*
My brother and I found a box of candy cigarettes at the supermarket last week,
and before bed last night I read aloud Shel Silverstein's,  A Boy Named Sue,
and everything was good again.
Edward Searson Mar 2013
I went to a party Mom,
I remembered what you said.
You told me not to drink,
Mom, so I drank soda instead.

I really felt proud inside, Mom,
The way you said I would.
I didn't drink and drive, Mom,
Even though the others said I should.

I know I did the right thing, Mom,
I know you are always right.
Now the party is finally ending, Mom,
As everyone is driving out of sight.

As I got into my car, Mom,
I knew I'd get home in one piece.
Because of the way you raised me,
So responsible and sweet.

I started to drive away, Mom,
But as I pulled out into the road,
The other car didn't see me, Mom,
And hit me like a load.

As I lay there on the pavement, Mom,
I hear the policeman say,
"The other guy is drunk," Mom,
And now I'm the one who will pay.

I'm lying here dying, Mom....
I wish you'd get here soon.
How could this happen to me, Mom?
My life just burst like a balloon.

There is blood all around me, Mom,
And most of it is mine.
I hear the medic say, Mom,
I'll die in a short time.

I just wanted to tell you, Mom,
I swear I didn't drink.
It was the others, Mom,
The others didn't think.

He was probably at the same party as I.
The only difference is, he drank,
And I will die.

Why do people drink, Mom?
It can ruin your whole life.
I'm feeling sharp pains now,
Pains just like a knife.

The guy who hit me is walking, Mom,
And I don't think it's fair.
I'm lying here dying,
And all he can do is stare.

Tell my brother not to cry, Mom,
Tell Daddy to be brave.
And when I go to heaven, Mom,
Put "GOOD BOY " on my grave.

Someone should have told him, Mom,
Not to drink and drive.
If only they had told him, Mom,
I would still be alive.

My breath is getting shorter, Mom,
I'm becoming very scared.
Please don't cry for me, Mom.
When I needed you, you were always there.

I have one last question, Mom.
Before I say good bye.
I didn't drink and drive,
So why am I the one to die?
hazael-fae Oct 2016
Mom
Mom, he won't listen to us
Mom, he won't put down the bottle
Mom, he is screaming at us again
Mom, he put his hands on us again
Mom, he made my brother run away
Mom, he is ruining my family
Mom, he made my brothers scary
Mom, he doesn't care if she's abusing us
Mom, he won't buy me new shoes these ones don't fit anymore
Mom, he is wasting all his money on alcohol
Mom, he won't go to meetings
Mom, he is shaking what is wrong with him
Mom, he is hiding the bottles from us
Mom, he is not willing to quit
Mom, he has lied to us so many times
Mom, he is trying to get us to call her mom
Mom, he is breaking things
Mom, he is getting worse with his dad gone
Mom, he is getting worse
Star Gazer Mar 2016
Mom
Mom was always a questionable figure in my life. She has inspired me but nonetheless not every parent is perfect, not even in the eyes of their child. I can remember at a young age of eight, I asked mom, "Mom, how will I know when I'm mature?" Her response still echoes in my head when I come to a stand still situation. She said "You are mature when you realise that going into your room and slamming your door does not make your problems disappear and they may be lurking in the room with you or right outside of the door". Obviously at the tender age of eight, I had no idea what she meant so I decided to give my own interpretation; "so there will be times we need to get a new door?"

Since I grew up without a father, Mom was forced to work to take up the bread-maker role and provide for my extra interests and any other things since I wanted to grow up slightly interesting. So "James Patterson books that you're probably going to read once and costs $50 sure son, I'll buy it for you". "Guitar lessons for your clumsy hands so you can woo the ladies? sure". I wasn't spoiled, don't get me wrong. I worked with my Aunts cafe (they are extremely successful; I think it's ripping off her employees and sacrificing the blood of a thousand babies or something. You get the picture; even though they are family, they aren't exactly the best people in this world. Then again you might argue success is the outcome of severity).

My mother was also the one to give me the talk (yes, that one with the bees,butterflies, magic liquids, ***** and elephants) , I could recall the embarrassment I felt from that moment. To clarify, I wasn't exactly old (about 12-13) nor did I have the maturity of a child but the conversation went a little like this -

      "Hey, do you know how to use a ******? To keep you safe in case you are ever... if you ever ... want to engage in intimate activities with a girlfriend".

      "Yea, mom I'm good. It's just like wearing a hat".

      "You know, if you put it on your head you will probably get someone pregnant".

      "Mom, I didn't mean I'm going to wear it like a hat, I'm going to wear it where I should be wearing it".

      "Don't fill it up with water and pretend its a water balloon before too and don't blow it up like a balloon".

      "Why are you telling me this mom? Sounds like you know someone who did it before?"
        
     Mom with a giggle and starts to sidetrack to an anecdote of the past; "Yes actually, when you were little you thought they were balloons. You were so small and adorable, who'd known so many years pass".

     "Ok thanks Mom, I got it. I don't think I'll ever get a girlfriend in this life though, seems a like a lot of work. The flowers, the gifts, the talking. I don't even know how to talk to a girl".

     "Simple, you talk to a girl, by talking to them like anyone else...Do clean up your language and don't be too stupid though. It's ok to show people you care about that you care, no matter who they are to you".

Now earlier I said, questionable, that's because she at times can be a hypocrite. I recall asking her at about 15, -

"is it ok for me to cry? I mean it feels strange, there's this something I can feel. I don't know how to describe it, but I don't know whether to cry or to scream or to just ..."

"It's ok for a guy to cry, it's ok for anyone to cry. The biggest importance is that you know to wipe those tears and keep going. Tissues work but I would recommend letting it roll down your cheeks and you'll realise, all you are doing is making yourself look more miserable and it's really not going to change much".

"Did you cry Mom? Like when ... passed away?"

"No. I didn't shed a single tear".
                    (Obviously she was lying because I had heard her on many occasions on my fathers funeral day sometimes every third year or some years in a row. We live in a small house where the walls are thin).

Mom being the only person I know to ask for advice. I approached her with question on love, when I was about 17 after somehow finding a girl who said she liked me.

        "Mom how do you know when you are in love? Or how do you know you should love that person and what if they don't love you back?"

       "Simple, love is when you miss the presence of someone in your life. Love can be between family. Love is thinking of them even when you're suppose to be doing other stuff. Love is caring how they are or how their day goes. Love is like seeing a light at the end of a tunnel filled with roses".
(Roses have a significant meaning to me, I always place Roses at the two most important people in my lives, one is my father, who altered who I have become, and the other is my greatest friend. Roses aren't something I give away, I have never given a rose unless it came straight from the heart. I know, you're probably thinking it's just a flower. It was the flower that my father first purchased for my mother , it was the flower that was at the wedding reception, it was the flower that I had placed on the casket and it's the flower I give to people I know I will always cherish with my heart).

Mom was remarkable, I would have not been happier with any other mother. There are times we fight but we always mend things.

I remember staggering home drunk, unable to fit the key into the lock and face reddened by the number of friends who kept telling me "just another one".
About a week later, my mother who doesn't drink except an occasional beer to fit into the mood of a party sat me down and asked me how many things did I drink that night. I started listing drinks, thinking she would be proud (stupid teenager brain, I know)... " So i had a shot of some vanilla ***** thing, but I was already drunk at that point. I had some absinthe thing....Oh i had some wings. I had about four beers. I think I had hot chips. I think I also had some Hennesy but it might have been water".
        Her face reddened and for that second I thought my neck was due for a snapping, nothing happened. All she said was -

          "At least you knew to eat, but don't drink too much. I raised you this old all alone, I don't want to have to lose you to something as stupid as alcohol. Also if you want to drink, just don't. Not until you are 18 anyways".

One more fight I could remember which happened quite recently was the passing of my great grandmother (god bless her soul; r.i.p), I remember being upset at my mom for not telling me about great grandmas passing, especially since it was during Final examination periods and she waited till after. Which in retrospect I had no idea why I was mad, just failed to realise it must have been harder for her than it was for me.

There was this one time, when I was about six, a boy in my class, lets call him Peter had teased me about my dead father. Kids will be kids and kids will also be cruel. I came home that day after school asked mom.
            
                   "Mommy what do you do if someone you don't like talks about you?"

                  "When I was a kid, I knocked a girl down and stepped on her neck but you shouldn't do that because when you do that, his mom will surely get upset same way I will get upset if someone hurts you".
                
Ignoring what she said , six year old me shoved Peter to the ground and placed my shoe on his neck screaming things, I obviously must have heard somewhere
               "You're lucky I'm sparing you".

Since this was still before school , my mother witnesses this, pushes me off the kid and makes me apologise and checks to see if the boy is alright. My mom told the teachers on me, and I don't remember the consequences but I can recall she told me to talk with Peter after the apology. Peter forgave me with his open heart and became my best friend from 6 till 18 ( at 18 we had a falling out but we've been best friends for long enough for me to cherish and forgive him for everything. We just never grew closer ever again. Plus congratulations, he's getting engaged :)   ).

             Thank you Mom, for raising me to be the man that I am today. I still struggle speaking to girls ( I didn't speak to a girl till I was 14, so I am sure I have some social issues but I try to make things work), but Mom you've taught me everything from driving, to shaving, to cleaning up after myself, to knowing how to respect people and understanding that sometimes things need to be talked out and that's all that's required. We don't say "love you's " in our family but deep down in my silent heart, Mom just know that I love everything you have given or tried to give me and thank you for letting me live the life I have lived. Bye
chris Jan 2016
i went to a party, mom
i remembered what you said
you told me not to drink, mom
so i drank soda instead
i felt really proud inside, mom
the way you said i would
i didn't drink and drive, mom
even though the others said i should
i know i did the right thing, mom
i know you're always be right
now the party is finally ending, mom
as everyone drives out of sight
as i got into my car, mom
i knew id get home in one piece
because the way you raised me, mom
so responsible and sweet
i started to drive away, mom
but as i pulled onto the road,
the other car didn't see me, mom
and it hit me like a load
as i lie here on the pavement, mom
i hear a policeman say the other guy is drunk, mom
and now i'm the one who will pay
i'm lying here dying, mom
i wish you'd get here soon
how come this happened to me, mom?
my life burst like a balloon
there is blood all around me, mom
most of it is mine
i hear the paramedic say, ill be dead in a short time
i just wanted to tell you, mom
i swear i didn't drink
it was the others, mom, the others didn't think
he didn't know where he was going, mom
he was probably at the same party as i was
the only difference is, mom
he drank and i will die

why do people drink, mom?
it can ruin your whole life

i'm feeling sharp pains now, mom
pains just like a knife

the guy who hit me is walking, mom
i don't think it's fair
-unknown
Regret. The act of doing something and feeling remorse later on; the act of wanting to take something back; the act of wishing something didn’t happen. I regret ever making the joke that when my sister and I fought; it was like World War 3. I regret not telling my brother how much he meant to me and how proud I was that he was serving our country. I regret falling in love with a man that would be forced to go into the military.

Ayden received the letter in the mail two weeks ago, informing him that he would be expected to be at the airport, to involuntarily serve our country. Something bad was going to happen. Something no one was prepared for. We were only eighteen, just seniors in high school since our birthdays took place in the summer. We had been dating one year. The thought of him going half way around the world to fight in a war that came out of nowhere, scared me half to death. It wasn’t just the fact that I was losing my boyfriend who I was incredibly in love with; It was the fact that all in one day, I would be losing my boyfriend, and my best friend. No one to share my secrets with, no one to wrap me in his arms and tell me that everything was going to be okay. Just like he had done the night before when he had finally worked up the courage to tell me what had happened. My jaw hit the floor, my eyes watered up, and I may or may not have started trembling. We had been sitting on the couch when he squeezed my hand a little tighter.

“I have to tell you something.” He said.

I turned toward him with a smile on my face, which quickly faded when I saw that his own eyes had started to tear up.

“What’s wrong?” I asked immediately.

“In a week, I won’t see you. I don’t know for how long, I don’t know when I’ll be back.” He started to explain.

“Where are you going?” I asked impatiently.

“I don’t know.”

“You have to know.”

“There’s going to be a war.” He said. “A big one.” He whispered.

“There was a draft?”

He nodded his head slightly.

“When did you find out?” I asked.

“About a week ago.”

“And you didn’t tell me?”

“I didn’t know how.”

“You didn’t know how?” I whispered.

“Ava. This hurts more than if I was breaking up with you.” He said. “I’ve wanted to tell you. I have. But I didn’t know how. How do you tell someone you’re completely in love with, that you’re going off to fight in a war? That you don’t know if you’ll be coming back?”

“You certainly don’t hide it from that person.” I whispered.

“I might not be coming back.”

“Don’t say that.” I interrupted. “Don’t ever say that again.”

I let a few tears slip down the side of my cheek. He raised his hand to my face and slowly swiped them away with his thumb. He pulled me closer into his arms and kissed my forehead.

“I love you.” He whispered into my ear.

“I love you too.” I said.

Those were the last words we said to each other a week later while standing in the airport. His parents were there too .He had already hugged them and his dad had ushered his mom out to the parking lot in order to keep her from having a panic attack. Ayden and I had stood there awkwardly for a few minutes. After all, what do you say to someone when there’s a possibility you might not ever see them again? That had been when he out of nowhere grabbed me and pulled me against his chest. Wrapping me tightly in his arms, I buried my nose into the sleeve of his jacket and savored the sweet scent of his cologne.

I stood in the window of the airport, watching planes take off after he had given me a final hug and had left to board the plane. Already, I felt like I had something missing from me. Like there was a big hole in my heart. I felt empty. After some time, I decided I should probably go home.

I didn’t cry myself to sleep last night like I thought I would’ve. Instead, I just lay in bed, looking up at the ceiling, not knowing what to think. Tomorrow would be so much different than all my other days at school. No one to hold my hand while walking down the hallway, no one to go out to lunch with, and no one to look forward to so bright and early in the morning. After what seemed like forever, I drifted off to sleep, images of Ayden appearing in my dreams.

The sound of my alarm clock woke me in the morning. And all at once, it hit me, everything that I had been thinking of before drifting off to sleep the night before. Everything that had happened yesterday hadn’t been just a dream. It had been reality and it was finally starting to set in. I threw the covers off of me and started my day like any other, minus the ‘good morning beautiful’ text that I had been so used to receiving.

When I was finally ready for school, I grabbed my keys and headed out the door. The weather fit my mood perfectly. Cloudy, dark, damp, awful weather. Unlike most days that usually occurred here in California. I was used to the sun, the nice warm breeze, not this ‘Seattle like’ weather. Driving to school, I wasn’t sure if the raindrops falling on my windshield made it blurry to see, or if it was my own tears welling up in my eyes. I pretended for it to be the first option, all the while knowing it was the second. Staying strong had been one of my traits. When things got tough, I wasn’t one to run from my problems. No, I faced those dead on. Mom always said I got that from Dad.

It’d been a long time since I’d last thought about him. He was tall, strong, and stubborn. He died serving our country. Maybe that’s what scared me most about Ayden having to go fight. I’d experience death through the military too many times in my book. My grandpa had served our country and had also died in military combat, then Dad. Maybe, it was just my family. Luck just didn’t play on our side. When my brother was finally old enough to join, he surprised us all at dinner one night.

“Have you thought anymore about that business degree you want to get?” Mom had asked.

“Well, yeah. Actually, no. I’ve decided against the business degree.” Ethan had said.

“Honey, you’re almost ready to graduate. You’re changing your mind in the blink of an eye and at possibly, the last minute?”

I had sat silently, not saying a word. Ethan had told me a few months before what he’d been thinking. He knew my opinion, but didn’t know Mom’s. I wasn’t happy with what he was deciding, but I was almost willing to support him. We were close, and I didn’t want to lose him like I had lost Dad, who I’d also been so close to.

“I want to join the military.” He said quietly, and calmly.

I remember Mom’s reaction almost perfectly. She didn’t say a word at first, just looked down at her plate. When she lifted her head a minute later, tears had begun to form in her eyes, ones she blinked away quickly, not letting them spill over onto her cheeks.

“When did you, decide this?” she asked quietly.

“I’ve thought about it for a long time. My choices were either, business, or military.” He explained. “And Mom, the business thing just isn’t working out.”

“Of all things to choose.” She whispered.

She shook her head slightly and I saw a tear fall onto the table by her plate.

“Mom, things are different these days. It’s not like when Dad fought.” He explained. “Ava supports me.” He slipped.

Mom’s head snapped up and looked at me. My head bent down, looking at the spaghetti on my plate.

“You knew?” she asked quietly.

I said nothing. Absolutely nothing. Telling Mom that I had known his decision all along wasn’t part of the plan when the three of us sat down for dinner that night.

“I thought there were no secrets in this house?” she asked.

“There isn’t.” Ethan chimed in. “Anymore.” He whispered.

Mom breathed in a deep breath and let it escape.

“Ethan, I love you. And I support whatever you choose to do. You know that. But I am telling you right now, I will be ****** if I lose another important man in my life.” She said, sternly, while looking deep into his eyes.

“Dad would’ve wanted this.” Ethan said, plainly.

“I know.”

And with that, she had excused herself and left the table. Walking down the hallway, I heard her sniffle a couple times.

The fact of those two simple words stung but as the saying goes, “the truth hurts.” Mom was a runner. She was the one who would always run from her problems instead of confronting them. The one thing that she had always said and will continue to always say, she didn’t want Ethan going into the military. Ever since Dad had died, she’d stuck to her word. Even though, we all knew Dad would’ve wanted Ethan to follow in his steps and be a commanding officer, it’d be the one thing Mom would continuously disagree on. I guess you could say I was the same way. After Ayden had told me that he had been signed for the draft, my breath had caught and I had the same reaction as Mom would’ve had. I would’ve wanted him to do anything, anything, besides go into the military. But I guess it was different this time. No one really had a say in who was on the list and who was absent. My bad luck had just started to shine through.

School dragged on. As normal. But it was different now. Ayden wasn’t there to hold my hand. He wasn’t there to greet me after my classes, wasn’t there to walk me to my car, wasn’t there to just be in my presence. It was like he had died. And just the thought of that alone, brought tears to my eyes. I wasn’t the only one whose boyfriend had been called off for the draft. No, there were others, but none of those other couples had been like Ayden and I. We weren’t just a couple. We weren’t just homecoming king and queen. No, we were best friends. I’d known him since first grade when he’d transferred to my elementary school. I had been the one assigned to show him around the school. We became friends, and later on, best friends. Freshman year of high school, Ayden and I had gone to homecoming together. Not as a couple but just as friends because neither of us had a date. Sophomore year, we had gone together again. Not because we didn’t have a date, but because we wanted to go with each other. I’ll never forget that night, because that was the night Ayden had told me he wanted to be more than friends. I had never actually thought about being more than just his friend until he had brought it up. That night, I didn’t just fall in love with a guy; I fell in love with my best friend.

The final bell rang for school to be dismissed. Once again, I felt emptiness inside while walking through the hallway. Blurs of kids rushing past me kept me from allowing my tears to spill over onto my cheeks, but that was the only thing that stopped them. After getting into my car, I put the key into the ignition but didn’t start it; I didn’t even turn the key. I put my head in my hands and took a deep breath. In my head, I thought, “One day down.”

After sitting for a few minutes in my quiet car, and letting other vehicles exit the parking lot, I finally turned the key and started my car. Hearing the soft music come on the radio, I turned it down so I could only hear the engine running. Putting my car into reverse, I wasn’t exactly sure where I was going to go. I just wanted to drive. Halfway home, I changed directions and headed to what seemed like my second house, my best friend’s house.

I knew his Mom would be off work by now and would be there to let me in. I found it ironic, as I always have that when you’re in a hurry to get somewhere; you stop at every red light possible. Red lights, stop signs, and slow moving cars in general were the only obstacles in my way that afternoon. Finally, when I was out of the traffic and almost to Ayden’s house, I pushed my foot a little harder on the gas to gain some speed. Driving up over the gravel road, I could see in the distance his Mom’s small car parked in the driveway; along with Ayden’s. Just seeing it there, gave me false hope that maybe this was all a dream and he was actually at his house, waiting for me.

Pulling into the driveway, his Mom came out onto the porch. Ayden lived in a house that you see in the movies. A tall, white one with a wraparound porch, the swing out front. I loved spending time in that house. Putting the car in park, I slowly got out and walked up to the porch.

“How did it go?” his Mom asked.

I shrugged my shoulders, while walking up the stairs. She pulled me into her arms and hugged me. Rubbing my back, she whispered,

“It’ll be okay. He’ll be coming home sooner than you know it.”

“Can I just go up to his room?” I asked.

“Of course.”

She released me from her arms and I opened the screen door to head inside while she remained on the porch. I walked up the stairs and to the right. Ayden’s door was closed. That was unlikely. He never kept his door shut just for the sake of it being shut. It was always opened. I pushed it open and walked inside. All his stuff was where he had left it. His bed was unmade, his closet doors standing open. I walked to his closet and ran my hands over his shirts, His scent filled my nose and I just wanted him home. I grabbed a button down, blue and white, thin striped shirt. He had worn it to school a couple times. I put it up to my nose, taking in faint bit of cologne that you could still smell on it, even after it going through the wash. I walked over to his bed, sitting down on the edge. With his shirt still pressed close to my face, I breathed in a heavy breath and let everything go. The tears started coming and I didn’t stop them. I started sobbing but I didn’t care. It seemed like everything that I’d ever loved, was gone. Because technically, it was, for the time. Ayden leaving to go fight in a war half way across the country scared me more than life itself, and hurt more than if he had broken up with me. I felt alone, even when there were dozens of people around me. I felt as if Ayden was dead when he was actually alive and well, as far as I knew. He’d only been gone one day and it felt like three years. Losing Ayden to the war efforts showed the true meaning in the saying, “you never really know what you have until it’s gone.” But really, the truth was, I knew what I had. I knew exactly what I had. I just took it for granted and didn’t think I’d ever lose it. And now all I wanted was Ayden back in the same country as me, back in the same house as where I was. In his room, watching a movie, playing a game, anything. That’s all I wanted at that exact moment.

I jumped up out of my sleep, my heart beating faster than a race car zooming around a track. I looked at my alarm clock, the red digits glaring, 2:33 back at my face. I swallowed and took a few more deep breaths before kicking the covers off and walking to the bathroom. I turned the light on and splashed some cool water over my face. Looking up into the mirror, I took one final deep breath and walked back to my room. Grabbing my phone from my nightstand next to my bed, I unplugged it and ran my finger over the touch screen. Reaching Ayden’s name, I touched the screen where it said to call. Holding the phone up to my ear, I waited for Ayden’s voice to answer. After about five rings and silence, his voice answered through his voicemail.

“Hey, it’s Ayden. I’m a little busy at the moment, but leave a message, and I’ll make sure to get back to you.”

My tears broke out all over again, my already swollen eyes releasing more sobs. I pulled my covers up to my chest and buried my face in them. My sobs grew a bit louder, and I heard footsteps coming from outside my bedroom door. I tried to stop, and after sniffling a couple times, the white door opened slowly.

“Honey,” Mom said, coming over to the bed.

“I can’t do this, Mom.” I sobbed.

She pulled me into her arms and rested her chin on my head while softly rubbing my back.

“It gets better.” she whispered. “It gets better.” she paused. “I promise.”

“I don’t know.” I said.

“I do.” she replied. “I went through this. You seem to keep forgetting. But I went through this exact same thing.”

I took a deep breath. “How long?” I asked. “How long does this last? This loneliness, this emptiness?”

“Too long.” she whispered.

She pulled me into her arms even more, holding me tighter, until I slowly laid down on my bed, my tears falling to my pillow. She sat on the edge of my bed, rubbing my back. It reminded me of all the times when I had been sick and she’d s
I know this isn't a poem, but I would like some feedback, comments or suggestions. I wrote this for a class, but I really like it. Tell me what you think. All comments are appreciated:)
Andrew T Jul 2016
Backstory: A Memoir

For Vicki

By AT

5

While I was downstairs, folding laundry in the basement, I heard my sister Vicki stomping upstairs to the room that used to be mine, slamming the door, and locking it shut.

I was a ****** older brother. And Vicki learned that action from me.
Then, I heard more footsteps. Louder stomping. And I knew, with certainty, it was Mom coming after her.

I'm not an omniscient narrator, so I don't know what Vicki does when the door is locked.

But I do imagine she is reading. Vicki’s been using her Kindle that Mom got her for Christmas. She adores Gillian Flynn and Suzanne Collins. She's starting to get into Philip Pullman which is swagger. I remember reading His Dark Materials when I was in elementary school.

The Golden Compass ***** you into that world, like during June when you're hitting a bowl for the first time and you're 17, late at night on Bethany beach with your childhood best friend, and the surf is curling against your toes, and the smoke is trailing away from the cherry, and you begin to realize that life isn't all about living in NOVA forever, because the world is more than NOVA, because life is bigger than this hole, that to some people believe is whole, and that's fine, that's fine because many of our parents came here from other small towns, and they wanted to do what we wanted to do, which is to pack up our stuff into the trunk of our presumably Asian branded car, and drive, drive, until they reach a destination that doesn't remind them of the good memories and the bad memories, until memory is mixed in with nostalgia, and nostalgia is mixed in with the past.

Maybe I'm dwelling on backstory, maybe you don't need to hear the backstory.

But I think you do.

Life isn't an eternity,
what I'm telling you is already known, known since there was a spider crawling up the staircase and your dad took the heel of his black dress shoe and dug his heel into that bug. And maybe I'm buggin’, but that bugged me, and now I'm trying to be healthier eating carrots like Bugs. Kale, red onions, and quinoa, as well. Because I want to be there for my sister, Vicki my sister. All we got is a wrapped up box made from God, Mohammad, and Buddha.

Soon, I heard Vicki’s door handle being cranked down and up, up and down.

Mom raised her voice from a quiet storm to a deafening concerto.  
Then, there was silence, followed by a door slamming shut.

Welcome to our life.
Later on that night, Vicki sped out of our cul-de-sac in her silver Honda Accord—a gift from Mom to keep her rooted in Nova—and even from the front porch of my house, I felt a distance from her that was deep and immovable.

I sank deeper into my lawn chair and lit a jack, but instead of inhaling like I usually did, I held it out in front of me and watched the smoke billow out from the cherry.

I always smoked jacks when she was not there, because I didn’t want her to see me knowingly do this to myself, even as I was making huge changes to my life. It’s the one vice I have left, and it’s terrible for me, but I don’t know if she understands that I know both things. Maybe instead of caring about what jacks do to my body, I should care about what she thinks about what I’m doing to myself. This should be obvious to me, but sometimes things aren’t that obvious.

4

As we grew older Vicki and I forged a dialogue, an understanding. She confided in me and I confided in her, sharing secrets, details about our lives that were personal and private, as if we were two CIA agents working together to defeat a totalitarian government—our tiger mom.

But seriously our mom was and still is swagger as ****—rocks Michael Kors and flannel Pajama pants (If I told you that last article of clothing she'd probably pinch my cheek and call me a chipmunk. Don't worry I'm fine with a moderation of self-deprecation).

The other day Mom talked to me about Vicki and explained that she was upset and irritated with Vicki because of her attitude. I thought that was interesting, because I used to have the same exact attitude when I was my sister’s age and I got away with a lot more ****, being that I'm a guy and the first-born. I understood why she would shut the front door, exit our red brick bungalow, and speed away in her Honda Accord, going towards Clarendon, or Adams Morgan, spending her time with her extensive circle of friends on the weekdays and weekends.

Because being inside our house, life could get suffocating and depressing.
Our Grandparents live with us. Grandpa had a stroke and is trying to recover. Grandma has Alzheimer’s and agitates my mom for rides to a Vietnamese Church. Besides the caretakers, Mom, Dad, Vicki, and I are the only ones taking care of my grandparents.

Mom told me that she believes that Vicki uses the house as a hotel. Mom didn't remind me of a landlord, and I believe that Vicki doesn’t see her as that either.

I didn't believe Vicki was doing anything necessarily wrong.

She had her own life.

I had my own life.

Dad had his own life.

Mom had her own life.

I understood why she wanted to go out and party and hang out with her friends. Maybe she was like me when I was 21 and perceived living at home as a prison, wanting to have autonomy and freedom from Mom because she was attempting to make me conform to her controlled system with restraints. But as Vicki and I both grow older I believe that we see Mom not as an authority figure; but, just as Mom.

Vicky and Mom clash and clash and clash with each other, more than the Archer Queens of The Hero Troops clash with the witches of the Dark Elixir Troops.

They act like they were from different clans, but they're both on the same side in reality.

The apple does not fall far from the tree. And in this case the tree wants to hang onto the apple on the tip of its rough, and yet leafy bough.
Because the tree is rooted in experience and has been around for much longer than the apple.

But the apple is looking for more water than the tree can give it. So the apple dreams about a summer rain-shower that will give it a chance to have its own experience. A similar, but different one, to the darker apple that hangs from a higher bough, an apple that has been spoiled from having too much sun and water.

3

During Winter Break, Vicki scored me tickets to a game between the Wizards and the Bucks. From court side to the nosebleeds, the audience at the Verizon Center was chanting in cacophony and in tempo. Wall was injured. But Gortat crashed the boards, Nene' drained mid-range shots, and Beal drove up the lane like Ginsberg reading Howl.

Vicki and I both tried to talk to each other as much as we could; unfortunately, Voldemort—my ex-gf—sat in between us and was gossiping about the latest scoop with the Kardashians.

Nevertheless, Vicki and I still managed to drink and have an outstanding time. But I should have given her more attention and spent less time on my smartphone. I was spending bread on Papa John's Pizza and chain-smoking jacks during half-time, and even when there were time outs. When I would come back and sink into my plastic chair, I'd feel bloated and dizzy.
And I'd look over at Vicki and either she was talking to Voldemort, or typing away on her smartphone. I didn't mind it at the time, but now I wished I had been less of a concessions barbarian/used-car salesman chain-smoker, and more of an older brother. I should have asked her about her day and her friends and her interests.

But I didn't.

Because I was so concerned about indulging in my vices like eating slices of pepperoni pizza and drinking overpriced beer. There's nothing wrong with pizza or beer. But as we all know the old saying goes, everything is about moderation.

Vicki scrunched her nose and squinted her eyes when I would lean forward and try to maneuver around Voldemort, trying to talk to her about the game and the players in it. I imagine that when she smelled the cigarette smoke leaking away from my lips, that she believed I was inconsiderate and not self-aware.

After the game, we went to a bar across the street from the Verizon Center, and bought mixed drinks. Voldemort was D.D., so Vicki and I drank until our Asian faces got redder than women and men who go up on stage for public speaking for the first time.

I remember this older Asian guy was trying to hit on her.
I took in short breaths. Inhaled. Exhaled. I cracked my shoulder blades to push my chest forward.  

And then, I patted him on the back and grinned. The Asian guy got the message. You don’t **** with the bodyguard.

Vicki had and still has a great boyfriend named Matt.

I guided Vicki back to our table and laughed about the awkward situation with her.

The Asian guy craned his head toward me and did a short wave. And then he bought us coronas. Either, you’re still hitting on my sister, or it’s a kind gesture. She and I better not get... Or am I overthinking it?

But seriously, I wished I had been the one to spend money on her first—she had bought the first round of drinks. Because at the time, my job was challenging and low-paying. Or maybe I just wasn't being frugal enough and partying way too often.

I still remember the picture that a cool rando took of us, drinking the Coronas, and how I was happy to be a part of her life again. Our eyes were so Asian. I had my lanky arm around her small shoulders, like a proud Father. She had her cheek propped up by her fist, her smile, gigantic and beaming, as though she had just won Wimbledon for the first time.
I was wearing a white and blue Oxford shirt that she had gotten me for Christmas with a D.C. Rising hat. She had on a cotton scarf that resembles a tan striped tail of a powerful cat.

My face was chubby from the pizza. Her face was just right like the one house in Goldilocks. The limes in the Coronas were sitting just below the throat of the bottles, like old memories resurfacing the brain, to make the self recall, to make the self remember how to treat his family.
Or maybe this is just a brand new Corona ad geared towards the rising second-generation Asian American demographic? I'm playing around.
But end of commercial break.

Vicki pats me on the back and we clink bottles together. Voldemort is lurking in the background, as if she's about to photobomb the next picture. Sometimes I don't know if there's going to be a next picture.
Either we live in these moments, or make memories of them with our phones. And like sheep following an untrustworthy shepherd, we went back to our phones. She made emails and texts. I went on twitter in search of the latest news story.

2

Before Vicki and I opened each other's presents, I remember I blew up at Mom and Dad, and criticized everyone in the family room including Vicki. It was over something stupid and trivial, but it was also something that made me feel insecure and small. I was the black sheep and she was the sheep-dog.

I screamed. Vicki took in a deep breath and looked away from my glare, looked away to a spot on the hardwood floor that was filled with a fine blanket of dust and lint. I chattered. She rubbed her fingers around the lens of her black camera and shook her head in a manner that suggested annoyance and disappointment. I scoffed. She set the camera down on the coffee table and pressed the flat of her hand against her cheek, and glanced out the window into the backyard that was blanketed with slush and snow.
Drops of snow were plunging from the branches of the evergreen trees and plopping onto the patches of the ground, plunging, as though they were little toddlers cannonballing off of a high-dive.

She turned back and looked at me straight in the eye, so straight I thought she was searching for the answer to my own stupidity.

I cleared my throat and said, “I need a breath of fresh air.”

Vicki bit her bottom lip, sat down, and put her arms on her knees, a deep, contemplative look appearing on her face.

I stormed into the narrow hallway, slammed the front door back against its rusty hinges, and trundled down my front driveway, the cold from the ice and the snow dampening the soles of my tarnished boots. I lit a jack at the far end of the cul-de-sac and counted to ten. I watched the cigarette smoke rise, as the ashes fell on the snow, blemishing its purity and calmness. I inhaled. I exhaled. I could feel it in the pit of my stomach that Vicki knew I was having a jack to reduce my stress, stress that I had cause all by myself. I ground the jack against the snowy concrete, feeling the cold begin to numb my fingers that were shaking from the nicotine, shaking from the winter that had wrapped itself around me and my sister.

When I came back inside of the house, I told Mom and Dad I was being an idiot and that I didn’t mean to be such an *******. I turned to Vicki and put my hand on her shoulder, squeezed it, and smiled weakly, telling her that I didn’t mean to upset her.

She nodded and said, “It’s okay bro.”

But her soft and icy tone made me feel skeptical; she didn’t believe me. I didn’t know if I believed my apology. Minutes later, I gave my present to her.

Her face brightened up with a smile. It was a gradual and cautious smile, a little too gradual and a little too cautious. She hugged me tightly, as though my earlier outburst hadn’t happened.

She opened the bank envelope and inside was a fat stack of cleanly, pressed bills that totaled a hundred. Being an arrogant, noob car salesman at the time, I thought it was going to be a pretty clever present. I could have given her a Benjamin, but I thought this would make her happier, because it showed my creative side in a different form.

I remember seeing her spread the dollar bills out, as if the bills were a Japanese Paper fan. Vicki told me not to post the picture I had taken on insta or Facebook. I smiled faintly and nodded, stuffing my smartphone back into my sweatpants pocket. I understood what she wanted, and I listened to her, respecting her wishes. But I also wasn't sure if she was embarrassed and ashamed of me. And maybe I was overthinking it. But again, maybe I wasn’t overthinking it. Social Media, whether we like it or not, is a part of life. And in that moment, I actually wanted social media to display this a single story in our lives. I wanted to show people that Vicki was the most important person—besides my parents—in my life. Because I was so concerned with how people viewed me and because I lacked confidence, lacked security, and lacked respect for myself

Vicki's present to me was a sleek and blue tie, a box set of mini colognes, and refreezable-ice-cubes. I think she called it the car salesperson kit. But I knew and still know she was trying to turn me into an honest and non-sketchy car salesman. And you know what, I was genuine, but I also couldn't retain any information about the cars features—to reiterate my Grandma has Alzheimer's, my mom writes down constant notes to remember everything, and I forget my journal almost every time I leave the house.

After Christmas I wore the tie to work a few times, but the mini colognes and ice-cubes never got used by me. They stayed in the trunk of my Toyota Avalon. I should have used the colognes and the ice-cubes, but I was too careless, too self-involved, and too ungrateful.

1

Back in the 90’s, when we were around 3 and 6 years old, Vicki and I shared the same room on the far left end of the hallway in our house. She had a small bed, and I had a bigger bed, obviously, because at 6 foot 1, I was a genetic freak for a Vietnamese guy. I read Harry Potter and Redwall like crazy growing up, and I would try to invent my own stories to entertain her. Every night she would listen to me tell my yarn, and it made me feel that my voice was significant and strong, even though many times I felt my voice was weak and soft, lacking in inflection, or intonation.

I had a speech impediment and I had to take classes at Canterbury Woods to fix my perceived problem. I wanted to fit in, blend in, and have friends.
Back then Vicki was not only my sister, but my best friend. She used to have short, black bangs; chubby cheeks, and a dot-sized nose—don't worry she didn't get ****** into the grocery tabloids and get rhinoplasty. She wore her red pajamas with a tank top over it, so she looked like a mini-red ranger, and her slippers
Dedicated to my baby sister, love you kid!
Chris Feb 2014
Mom
You sit here telling me I am to emotional
You sit here telling me I give you shame
You sit here telling me I am nothing
You sit here telling me about your awful life
You sit here telling me to stop playing the victim
You sit here telling me you were a straight A student
You sit here telling me that this house is all you have left
You sit here telling me that I am going to end up like my father
A lier, theif, crook, and a bad husband

However you, mom are were I get my emotions from
However you, mom bring shame to the name
However you, mom aren't even important to me
However you, mom have made your own mistakes
However you, mom cry about how you're always the victim
However you, mom dropped college and is now struggling
However you, mom don't even realize that once had me
However you, mom make me choose him over you

You mom bring tears to my eyes
You mom are overprotective and crazy
You mom yell at me for doing nothing
       When you sit here yelling at me that I am nothing
You mom could have changed your life forever with me
You mom are the victim of yourself
You mom are underpaid and dropped out of college
        Look at where those all important grades got you
You mom were once the color of my life
         And now you are out of my crayon box
You mom took me away from you, when you chose a house over me
You mom are the sole reason that I want to be my father

I would rather be a bad husband and a good father
Then be a ******* dad and a good husband.
Your not even a good wife either you don't deserve the name mom, Debbie.
Jackie Sep 2013
Mom and Dad
Do you realize that your hate effects me
Mom and Dad
Do you realize that how you live reflects upon me
Mom and Dad
Do you know I just wish you would stop fighting
For ten minutes realize that we are watching
Mom and Dad
I can't learn how to be a good person if you don't show me
Mom and Dad
Do you understand that I want to get as far away as possible
That I want to keep running and never look back
Mom and Dad
I can't even remember the last time you said you loved me
Are you proud of me
Mom and Dad
I wish I could say all of this but you are too busy fighting
Do you even see me crying
Mom and Dad
Do you know that you both just make everything harder
I have no choice but to become stronger
Mom and Dad
You are starting to lose me
Mom and Dad
One day I will be gone
And you will ask what went wrong
Mom and Dad
I can no longer watch you destroy this family
I'm only 17
I can't take care of everything
Mom and Dad
I hate when you talk about one another
And look at my brother
He is only 11
He is starting to lose faith in Heaven
Mom and Dad
He doesn't deserve this
He shouldn't have to witness this
Mom and Dad
You need to get help
One day I wont be here to take care of him
One day I won't be here to explain to him what's going on
Or to reassure him that there is more to this world
Mom and Dad
While I am finishing this poem
You are fighting
Mom and Dad
Stop fighting and fix things
Katy Sauer Apr 2010
Mom
Hi Mom,
(I'm so sad Mom)
How are you Mom?
(I'm breaking apart Mom)
I can see you're happy Mom.
(Did you forget me Mom?)
Let's talk Mom.
(Don't leave Mom.)
I have a boyfriend Mom.
(He hits me Mom)
I'm happy Mom.
(I slit my wrists Mom)
Everything's changing Mom.
(I'm dying Mom)

Goodbye Mom.

(I'm dead Mom)
Danny Valdez Dec 2011
My mom and I went out
driving around from bar to bar
a lot
looking for my old man.
Usually we’d find him pretty early on
the drive home, with my mom yelling at him
while my four-year-old *** sat in the backseat
having to listen t it all.

Those were the
good nights,
the easy & calm nights.

But this one night
I remember
better than others.
My mom went inside his favorite bar
with me on her hip.
The bartender told her he had just left.
with some blonde lady.
So we sat in the car and waited.
His Harley was parked out front
so we knew he’d be back.
My mom chain-smoked,
sipping at her icy Mountain Dew
from her green metal thermos.

She had fire in her eyes,
gasoline in her veins.
My mom was really gonna let him have it
and that blonde *****, too, she said.

The bar was next door to a 7-11
Two lowlife ******* were
Standing around
They saw my mom and I sitting there,
One of them yelled at her
“Whatcha lookin’ at *****?”
“I ain’t lookin’ at you, shut the **** up.”
My Mom spouted back, flicking her Marlboro.
They didn’t say anything,
Just started walkin’ away.

Out of nowhere though,
the ****-talkin’ lowlife was next to her window.
He reached in and grabbed my mom by the arm.
I was really scared, I remember.
“Whatcha got to say now? Huh *****?”
My mom reached for her pistol
With her free hand
While the lowlife kept
talking, threatening to **** her in front of her son.
Within a matter of seconds
The black 9mm pistol
Was unholstered and shoved into his nose.
His eyes were as wide as they got.
His hands now up in the air,
he was shaking & trembling.
My mom pulled back the hammer,
it made that terrifying click.
His eyes shut tightly when
that sound came.
“I AM a *****. The WRONG ***** to **** with tonight.”
Be cool lady. Becoolladybecool. Don’t shoot, don’t shoot.”
The gun was now pressed into his sunburned, pockmarked, cheek.
“Get the **** away from my car.”
And just like that, off he ran into the darkness.

I had fully expected her to
blow his head off, right there in front of me.
She asked if I was okay.
I nodded yes and she kissed my forehead.
She stood outside the car then
Next to his Harley
Pacing back and forth
Her adrenaline really pumping now,
smoking and drinking soda
from that green metal thermos.

I don’t know how much time passed,
but eventually
a little red car pulled up.
My dad and the blonde got out.
When he saw my mom he sighed and said,
“Ahhh **** me.”
scratching his big biker beard
with his brown hands.
The blonde tried to go into the bar.
My mom blocked her entry saying,
“Uh ah! What the **** were you doing with MY man, *****?!”
The blonde looked to my dad for help.
“Danny?” she cried.
“Rhonda, nothing happened. I just got some coke from her. That’s all, now chill the **** out...”
“*******,” she yelled.
The blonde again tried to go into the bar.
And again my mom stood in the way.
Now the blonde was ******. She screamed in fear & frustration,
“***** get the **** outta my way."
“You ******’ *****,” my mom shrieked,
smashing the green metal thermos to her face.
Then she dropped it
and began throwing wild punches to the blonde’s face and head.
I unbuckled my car seat
and leaned out the window
watching my mom & the blonde
roll around on the ground.
My dad let her get in a few good hits,
then pulled her off.
The blonde’s face was
red, swollen, and bloodied.
My mom wore a lot of rings.
The blonde stumbled to her feet
and finally ran inside.

My parents argued all the way home
The old man stuck to his story,
that it was just a drug deal.
She wasn’t having it.
They told me to go to bed,
but I stayed up
peeking around the corner,
watching them argue.
The old man was too drunk & coked out.
He wasnt making any sense, the **** he was saying.
Finally she got tired of arguing in circles
and just threw a hard right
layed him out on the kitchen floor.
I ran as fast as I could back to my room.
I could hear her say,
"See? You ******' *******! This is what you get!"
as I pulled my Batman blanket up to my chin.
****.
My mom was tougher than Batman.
Nora Agha Jun 2012
I was eight,
My cousin was eighteen.
He called his mother Mom
"When will I be old enough,"
I asked
"to call my mama Mom?"

Mom seemed a privilege
to be earned with age.
Eight year olds had to say
"mama" or "mommy"

I experimented with Mom
such a deliciously Western term.
I addressed birthday cards to Mom
and mother's day cards to Mom

She didn't seem to mind
so I started calling mama Mom

But the novelty wore off
and I got sick of Mom and of mom
And I wanted nothing to do with mom
so I wouldn't even call her Mom

She was Alia.
I called her by her first name
because I resented Mom and mom for loving me.

I called her Alia
She called me Daughter
a forceful reminder of the umbilical cord.

Then I went away to university,
over the Atlantic Ocean
a 14 hour plane ride away.

And I wouldn't call at all.
I wouldn't call to call her "mama" or "mommy" or Mom or even Alia.

But she would call
And she would call me Daughter
or "habibti" or "my sunshine."

And I didn't want to hear it.
I was eighteen
and I didn't need Mom.

I was gone eight months
and I didn't miss Mom
I didn't miss the Middle East
I didn't want to be home

I think She hated me for a while.

Then I was back in Toronto
University got hard
And I got tired
And I couldn't sleep
And friends proved false
And I got fat.

So I called Alia
And she stayed on skype with me, singing
Arabic Nursery Rhymes
until she saw I was asleep

And Mom watched me sleep.

But "mommy"
kept the laptop on all night
In case I woke up scared
and needed to call out for her
from across the Atlantic.

And "mama"
is at home
waiting for me
with a hug

And I just want to go back
and do it over
so I could take back every day
that I didn't call her
mommy.
Victor D López Dec 2018
Victor D. López (October 11, 2018)

You were born five years before the beginning of the Spanish civil war and
Lived in a modest two-story home in the lower street of Fontan, facing the ocean that
Gifted you its wealth and beauty but also robbed you of your beloved and noblest eldest
Brother, Juan, who was killed while working as a fisherman out to sea at the tender age of 19.

You were a little girl much prone to crying. The neighbors would make you cry just by saying,
"Chora, neniña, chora" [Cry little girl, cry] which instantly produced inconsolable wailing.
At the age of seven or eight you were blinded by an eye Infection. The village doctor
Saved your eyesight, but not before you missed a full year of school.

You never recovered from that lost time. Your impatience and the shame of feeling left behind prevented
You from making up for lost time. Your wounded pride, the shame of not knowing what your friends knew,
Your restlessness and your inability to hold your tongue when you were corrected by your teacher created
A perfect storm that inevitably tossed your diminutive boat towards the rocks.

When still a girl, you saw Franco with his escort leave his yacht in Fontan. With the innocence of a girl
Who would never learn to hold her tongue, you asked a neighbor who was also present, "Who is that Man?"
"The Generalissimo Francisco Franco," she answered and whispered “Say ‘Viva Franco’ when he Passes by.”
With the innocence of a little girl and the arrogance of an incorrigible old soul you screamed, pointing:

"That's the Generalissimo?" followed up loud laughter, "He looks like Tom Thumb!"
A member of his protective detail approached you, raising his machine gun with the apparent intention of
Hitting you with the stock. "Leave her alone!" Franco ordered. "She is just a child — the fault is not hers."
You told that story many times in my presence, always with a smile or laughing out loud.

I don't believe you ever appreciated the possible import of that "feat" of contempt for
Authority. Could that act of derision have played some small part in their later
Coming for your father and taking him prisoner, torturing him for months and eventually
Condemning him to be executed by firing squad in the Plaza de Maria Pita?

He escaped his fate with the help of a fascist officer who freed him as I’ve noted earlier.
Such was his reputation, the power of his ideas and the esteem even of friends who did not share his views.
Such was your innocence or your psychic blind spot that you never realized your possible contribution to
His destruction. Thank God you never connected the possible impact of your words on his downfall.

You adored your dad throughout your life with a passion of which he was most deserving.
He died shortly after the end of the Spanish Civil War. A mother with ten mouths to feed
Needed help. You stepped up in response to her silent, urgent need. At the age of
Eleven you left school for the last time and began working full time.

Children could not legally work in Franco’s Spain. Nevertheless, a cousin who owned a cannery
Took pity on your situation and allowed you to work full-time in his fish cannery factory in Sada.
You earned the same salary as the adult, predominantly women workers and worked better
Than most of them with a dexterity and rapidity that served you well your entire life.

In your free time before work you carried water from the communal fountain to neighbors for a few cents.
You also made trips carrying water on your head for home and with a pail in each hand. This continued after
You began work in Cheche’s cannery. You rose long before sunrise to get the water for
Home and for the local fishermen before they left on their daily fishing trips for their personal water pails.

All of the money you earned went to your mom with great pride that a girl could provide more than the salary of a
Grown woman--at the mere cost of her childhood and education. You also washed clothes for some
Neighbors for a few cents more, with diapers for newborns always free just for the pleasure of being
Allowed to see, hold spend some time with the babies you so dearly loved you whole life through.
When you were old enough to go to the Sunday cinema and dances, you continued the
Same routine and added washing and ironed the Sunday clothes for the young fishermen
Who wanted to look their best for the weekly dances. The money from that third job was your own
To pay for weekly hairdos, the cinema and dance hall entry fee. The rest still went to your mom.

At 16 you wanted to go to emigrate to Buenos Aires to live with an aunt.
Your mom agreed to let you--provided you took your younger sister, Remedios, with you.
You reluctantly agreed. You found you also could not legally work in Buenos Aires as a minor.
So you convincingly lied about your age and got a job as a nurse’s aide at a clinic soon after your arrival.

You washed bedpans, made beds, scrubbed floors and did other similar assigned tasks
To earn enough money to pay the passage for your mom and two youngest brothers,
Sito (José) and Paco (Francisco). Later you got a job as a maid at a hotel in the resort town of
Mar del Plata whose owners loved your passion for taking care of their infant children.

You served as a maid and unpaid babysitter. Between your modest salary and
Tips as a maid you soon earned the rest of the funds needed for your mom’s and brothers’
Passage from Spain. You returned to Buenos Aires and found two rooms you could afford in an
Excellent neighborhood at an old boarding house near the Spanish Consulate in the center of the city.

Afterwards you got a job at a Ponds laboratory as a machine operator of packaging
Machines for Ponds’ beauty products. You made good money and helped to support your
Mom and brothers  while she continued working as hard as she always had in Spain,
No longer selling fish but cleaning a funeral home and washing clothing by hand.

When your brothers were old enough to work, they joined you in supporting your
Mom and getting her to retire from working outside the home.
You lived with your mom in the same home until you married dad years later,
And never lost the bad habit of stubbornly speaking your mind no matter the cost.

Your union tried to force you to register as a Peronista. Once burned twice cautious,
You refused, telling the syndicate you had not escaped one dictator to ally yourself with
Another. They threatened to fire you. When you would not yield, they threatened to
Repatriate you, your mom and brothers back to Spain.

I can’t print your reply here. They finally brought you to the general manager’s office
Demanding he fire you. You demanded a valid reason for their request.
The manager—doubtless at his own peril—refused, saying he had no better worker
Than you and that the union had no cause to demand your dismissal.

After several years of courtship, you and dad married. You had the world well in hand with
Well-paying jobs and strong savings that would allow you to live a very comfortable life.
You seemed incapable of having the children you so longed for. Three years of painful
Treatments allowed you to give me life and we lived three more years in a beautiful apartment.

I have memories from a very tender age and remember that apartment very well. But things changed
When you decided to go into businesses that soon became unsustainable in the runaway inflation and
Economic chaos of the Argentina of the early 1960’s. I remember only too well your extreme sacrifice
And dad’s during that time—A theme for another day, but not for today.

You were the hardest working person I’ve ever known. You were not afraid of any honest
Job no matter how challenging and your restlessness and competitive spirit always made you a
Stellar employee everywhere you worked no matter how hard or challenging the job.
Even at home you could not stand still unless there was someone with whom to chat awhile.

You were a truly great cook thanks in part to learning from the chef of the hotel where you had
Worked in Mar del Plata awhile—a fellow Spaniard of Basque descent who taught you many of his favorite
Dishes—Spanish and Italian specialties. You were always a terribly picky eater. But you
Loved to cook for family and friends—the more the merrier—and for special holidays.

Dad was also a terrific cook, but with a more limited repertoire. I learned to cook
With great joy from both of you at a young age. And, though neither my culinary skills nor
Any aspect of my life can match you or dad, I too am a decent cook and
Love to cook, especially for meals shared with loved ones.

You took great pleasure in introducing my friends to some of your favorite dishes such as
Cazuela de mariscos, paella marinera, caldo Gallego, stews, roasts, and your incomparable
Canelones, ñoquis, orejas, crepes, muñuelos, flan, and the rest of your long culinary repertoire.
In primary and middle school dad picked me up every day for lunch before going to work.

You and he worked the second shift and did not leave for work until around 2:00 p.m.
Many days, dad would bring a carload of classmates with me for lunch.
I remember as if it were yesterday the faces of my Jewish, Chinese, Japanese, German, Irish
And Italian friends when first introduced to octopus, Spanish tortilla, caldo Gallego, and flan.

The same was true during college and law school.  At times our home resembled an
U.N. General Assembly meeting—but always featuring food. You always treated my
Closest friends as if they were your children and a number of them to this day love
You as a second mother though they have not seen you for many years.

You had tremendous passion and affinity for being a mother (a great pity to have just one child).
It made you over-protective. You bought my clothes at an exclusive boutique. I became a
Living doll for someone denied such toys as a young girl. You would not let me out of your sight and
Kept me in a germ-free environment that eventually produced some negative health issues.

My pediatrician told you often “I want to see him with ***** finger nails and scraped knees.”
You dismissed the statement as a joke. You’d take me often to the park and to my
Favorite merry-go-round. But I had not one friend until I was seven or eight and then just one.
I did not have a real circle of friends until I was about 13 years old. Sad.

I was walking and talking up a storm in complete sentences when I was one year old.
You were concerned and took me to my pediatrician who laughed. He showed me a
Keychain and asked, “What is this Danny.” “Those are your car keys” I replied. After a longer
Evaluation he told my mom it was important to encourage and feed my curiosity.

According to you, I was unbearable (some things never change). I asked dad endless questions such as,
“Why is the sun hot? How far are the stars and what are they made of? Why
Can’t I see the reflection of a flashlight pointed at the sky at night? Why don’t airplanes
Have pontoons on top of the wheels so they can land on both water and land? Etc., etc., etc.

He would answer me patiently to the best of his ability and wait for the inevitable follow-ups.
I remember train and bus rides when very young sitting on his lap asking him a thousand Questions.
Unfortunately, when I asked you a question you could not answer, you more often than not made up an answer Rather than simply saying “I don’t know,” or “go ask dad” or even “go to hell you little monster!”

I drove you crazy. Whatever you were doing I wanted to learn to do, whether it was working on the
Sewing machine, knitting, cooking, ironing, or anything else that looked remotely interesting.
I can’t imagine your frustration. Yet you always found only joy in your little boy at all ages.
Such was your enormous love which surrounded me every day of my life and still does.

When you told me a story and I did not like the ending, such as with “Little Red Riding Hood,”
I demanded a better one and would cry interminably if I did not get it. Poor mom. What patience!
Reading or making up a story that little Danny did not approve of could be dangerous.
I remember one day in a movie theater watching the cartoons I loved (and still love).

Donald Duck came out from stage right eating a sandwich. Sitting between you and dad I asked you
For a sandwich. Rather than explaining that the sandwich was not real, that we’d go to dinner after the show
To eat my favorite steak sandwich (as usual), you simply told me that Donald Duck would soon bring me the sandwich. But when the scene changed, Donald Duck came back smacking his lips without the sandwich.

Then all hell broke loose. I wailed at the top of my lungs that Donald Duck had eaten my sandwich.
He had lied to me and not given me the promised sandwich. That was unbearable. There was
No way to console me or make me understand—too late—that Donald Duck was also hungry,
That it was his sandwich, not mine, or that what was on the screen was just a cartoon and not real.

He, Donald Duck, mi favorite Disney character (then and now) hade eaten this little boy’s Sandwich. Such a Betrayal by a loved one was inconceivable and unbearable. You and dad had to drag me out of the theater ranting And crying at the injustice at top volume. The tantrum (extremely rare for me then, less so now) went on for awhile, but all was well again when my beloved Aunt Nieves gave me a ******* with jam and told me Donald had sent it.

So much water under the bridge. Your own memories, like smoke in a soft breeze, have dissipated
Into insubstantial molecules like so many stars in the night sky that paint no coherent picture.
An entire life of vital conversations turned to the whispers of children in a violent tropical storm,
Insubstantial, imperceptible fragments—just a dream that interrupts an eternal nightmare.

That is your life today. Your memory was always prodigious. You knew the name of every person
You ever met, and those of their family members. You could recall entire conversations word for word.
Three years of schooling proved more than sufficient for you to go out into the world, carving your own
Path from the Inhospitable wilderness and learning to read and write at the age of 16.

You would have been a far better lawyer than I and a fiery litigator who would have fought injustice
Wherever you found it and always defended the rights of those who cannot defend themselves,
Especially children who were always your most fervent passion. You sacrificed everything for others,
Always put yourself dead-last, and never asked for anything in return.

You were an excellent dancer and could sing like an angel. Song was your release in times of joy and
In times of pain. You did not drink or smoke or over-indulge in anything. For much of your life your only minor Indulgence was a weekly trip to the beauty parlor—even in Spain where your washing and ironing income
Paid for that. You were never vain in any way, but your self-respect required you to try to look your best.

You loved people and unlike dad who was for the most part shy, you were quite happy in the all-to-infrequent
Role as the life of the party—singing, dressing up as Charlie Chaplin or a newborn for New Year’s Eve parties with Family and close friends. A natural story-teller until dementia robbed you of the ability to articulate your thoughts,
You’d entertain anyone who would listen with anecdotes, stories, jokes and lively conversation.

In short: you were an exceptional person with a large spirit, a mischievous streak, and an enormous heart.
I know I am not objective about you, but any of your surviving friends and family members who knew you
Well will attest to this and more in a nanosecond. You had an incredibly positive, indomitable attitude
That led you to rush in where angels fear to treat not out of foolishness but out of supreme confidence.

Life handed you cartloads of lemons—enough to pickle the most ardent optimist. And you made not just
Lemonade but lemon merengue pie, lemon sorbet, lemon drops, then ground up the rind for sweetest
Rice pudding, flan, fried dough and a dozen other delicacies. And when all the lemons were gone, you sowed the Seeds from which extraordinarily beautiful lemon trees grew with fruit sweeter than grapes, plums, or cherries.

I’ve always said with great pride that you were a far better writer than I. How many excellent novels,
Plays, and poems could you have written with half of my education and three times my workload?
There is no justice in this world. Why does God give bread to those without teeth? Your
Prodigious memory no longer allows you to recognize me. I was the last person you forgot.

But even now when you cannot have a conversation in any language, Sometimes your eyes sparkle, and
You call me “neniño” (my little boy in Galician) and I know that for an instant you are no longer alone.
But too son the light fades and the darkness returns. I can only see you a few hours one day a week.
My life circumstances do not leave me another option. The visits are bitter sweet but I’m grateful for them.

Someday I won’t even have that opportunity to spend a few hours with you. You’ll have no
Monument to mark your passing save in my memory so long as reason remains. An entire
Life of incalculable sacrifice will leave behind only the poorest living legacy of love
In your son who lacks appropriate words to adequately honor your memory, and always will.


*          *          *

The day has come, too son. October 11, 2018. The call came at 3:30 am.
An hour or two after I had fallen asleep. They tried CPR in vain. There will be no more
Opportunities to say, “I Love you,” to caress your hands and face, to softly sing in your ear,
To put cream on your hands, or to hope that this week you might remember me.

No more time to tell you the accomplishments of loved ones, who I saw, what they told me,
Who asked about you this week, or to pray with you, or to ask if you would give me a kiss by putting my
Cheek close to your lips, to feel joy when you graced me with many little kisses in response,
Or tell you “Maybe next time” when as more often than not the case for months you did not respond.

In saying good bye I’d give you the kiss and hug Alice always sent you,
Followed by three more kisses on the forehead from dad (he always gave you three) and one from me.
I’d leave the TV on to a channel with people and no sound and when possible
Wait for you to close your eyes before leaving.

Time has run out. No further extensions are possible. My prayers change from asking God to protect
You and by His Grace allow you to heal a little bit each day to praying that God protect your
Soul and dad’s and that He allow you to rest in peace in His kingdom. I miss you and Dad very much
And will do so as long as God grants me the gift of reason. I never knew what it is to be alone. I do now.

Four years seeing your blinding light reduced to a weak flickering candle in total darkness.
Four years fearing that you might be aware of your situation.
Four years praying that you would not feel pain, sadness or loneliness.
Four years learning to say goodbye. The rest of my life now waiting in the hope of seeing you again.

I love you mom, with all my heart, always and forever.
Written originally in Spanish and translated into English with minor additions on my mom's passing (October 2018).
children should be seen and not heard Odysseus is not a complainer he keeps quiet he is taught to choke his voice swallow his hurt Mom and Dad are always arguing at one another raising their voices fighting he endures his parent’s criticism follows their orders he is trained to be obedient no negotiating his parents inhabit a surface world of strict protocol everyone laughs but it is a pretend way to dismiss what is actually occurring as long as they say i love you to each other then everything is accorded technically all right no matter how dysfunctional or painful the truth existence is a difficult challenge often overwhelming Mom and Dad push Odysseus in directions he does not want to go instead of surrendering to their wills he acts in response in fact a whole personality is being formed based on his reactions and having nothing to do with who he truly is how he actually feels he feels frightened by the world stressed by all the expectations put upon him in many ways he is way too sensitive crippled by his own sensitivity self-betrayed by his thin-skinned hypersensitivity he stays in his bedroom with the door closed he paints or plays with toy soldiers and watches TV he does not know where Penelope is maybe she is in her bedroom Penelope means everything they share secrets and conspiracies and a common enemy in Mom and Dad Penelope is the only one who recognizes his predicament sense of helplessness anxiety pain she is more nurturing than Mom Penelope and Odysseus have a special connection share a common or similar reference of perception Odysseus desperately needs to believe in his parents maybe Mom and Dad do not understand and assign unfitting advice maybe Mom and Dad do not support him in ways he needs but they are still his parents he values believes looks up to them they rooted that in him even if it is out of fear rather than respect he will always venerate Mom and Dad no matter what Odysseus wants to make his parents proud he loves and needs them Mom is an important person always on the go planning dinners dashing out the door gossiping on the phone buying and returning clothes getting them altered going to the hair salon meeting with the girls for lunch she is a busy lady and has a lot of friends Mom is more concerned about how things look than what is actually going on with her children parenting is a secondary concern to Mom’s hectic agenda of social popularity deep inside Odysseus believes Mom loves him he needs to believe that he paints a red heart on white sheet of paper and writes inside the heart in brown colored pencil MOM when he turns it upside down he reads WOW he reasons whether it is out of obligation or guilt or a mother’s tendency Mom loves him he does not understand but he is grateful secretly Odysseus is hurting bad his feelings are easily upset more and more he experiences a disturbed point of view he tries to ignore it  sometimes his thoughts run to morbid extremes he wonders why he cannot just accept and get along often he wants to be good and get better other times he wants to destroy himself things are chaotic and troubling at home he wishes he or his family would die his teachers complain he is a dreamer with behavioral problems he does not excel academically after eighth grade Mom and Dad are notified their son is not to return to Harper Mom cries to the school Principal in his office begging him to let her son stay the Principal refuses Dad lights a cigarette and exclaims to hell with Harper we’ll find Odys a better school Odysseus tells Mom he is going to be known someday not like celebrities on TV rather recognized for some great achievement Mom believes him and never stops believing in Odysseus
Riptide Sep 2016
The sun rose in her heart
Whilst her thoughts and words
Often reinforced with thorns
Like barbed roses.
The sun rose in her heart
And radiated through her smile,
Know
There aren't many things
More special to me
Than your smile mom.

But your laugh,
Your laugh
Mom,
It fills the air
And purifies it
Like a serum for dark energy.
Know
There aren't many things
More special to me
Than your laugh mom.

But your touch,
Your touch
Mom,
It comprehends my body
Sending signals to my mind and heart
Assuring them all is well
Massaging the stress away.
Know
There aren't many things
More special to me
Than your touch mom.

But your wisdom,
Your wisdom
Mom,
It trains and protects me
From evil and unnecessary unwarrented damage
Forges my spirit, moulds my perspection and quenches my ignorance;
Conditioning me to be unorthodox and different
Nurturing my growth.
Know
There aren't many things
More special to me
Than your wisdom mom.

But your hug,
Your hug
Mom,
It keeps me warm
Even in your absence
It envelopes me like a blanket .
Know
There aren't many things
More special to me
Than your hug mom.

But your presence,
Your presence in my life
Mom,
It is nonpareil.
Know
There aren't many things
More special to me
Than your presence in my life mom.

Oh but your love,
Your love for me
Mom,
It made all the difference
In my life
In the world
It has made paths
Where there wasn't land
It opened a door that was bolted shut
It is the light in my darkness.
Know
There aren't many things
More special to me
Than your inexhaustible love mom.

The sun rises in your heart mom
I can't not help but wonder how special I am
To be a recipient of that
And bask in your awesome love.
I want you to know,
I love you infinitely
Mom.
Wandisa Zwane Oct 2015
Written by

Wandisa Zwane  


April 16, 2015



INT.  APT 3101 - THE BEDROOM  

It's 02:31 am and I find myself laying silently on my bed scrolling through Instagram...Twitter...Tumblr....and Snapchat. I find myself struggling to go to sleep.  I wasn't even able to sleep for an hour or two. It's not normal as its way past my curfew. I receive a text message. I'm confused because it's
still too early for anyone to be texting me, and I know everyone nearby is fast asleep because we have school. So who could be texting me?

CUT TO: PHONE SCREEN

HER ( via text )

I'm struggling with the math homework, help ? Are you up ?

ME ( via text )

I am actually. FaceTime, call or text?

20 minutes later my phone starts ringing. She was FaceTiming me. I stare at her name for about 5 seconds trying to put myself together.

ME

Hello, Ellie

I wasn't focused on the math. I was hoping that we could forget about the math and just talk about us and the futility of life. For some stupid reason I really thought you were gonna say something cheesy like I can't get you out of my head but can we just talk until we fall in love? But no it never happened as we had an hour long conversation about math.

CUE " MATH CONVERSATION"

The futility in that conversation was cosmic to the point where I began questioning existence. But when the call finally ended I was disappointed.

CUT TO: VARSITY

It's 8am and I'm at sitting in English tired and drained. Still contemplating about the futility of life.

HER

Hey, Tyler thanks for helping me with the math homework.

ME

Uhm Ellie do you want to come over too my apartment over the weekend and chill ?

CUT TO: APARTMENT 3101

It's 12am and the apartment is really untidy. I jump out of bed and clean the entire apartment in a record time of 12 minutes and 44 seconds. I'm going crazy over here as I'm trying to remember if I gave her the correct directions. Thank god I gave her the correct directions as I see the uber pulling up in front of the apartment complex. I start sweating and shaking and I'm fearful that I'm going to have a nervous breakdown. I start cringing.
I open the door the door and it's her standing directly in front of me. I can't breathe. I'm overwhelmed by an awe of emotions. Literally - she's beautiful

ME

I mumbled - Hey Ellie it's so good to see you ( the hug was very awkward because I was nervous - it was one of those hugs where both people don't know how to hug each which makes things really awkward)

HER

Hi


ME

So glad you could make it. How was the drive ( note to self: I should stop making things awkward ) I'm so irritated at myself.

CUT TO:  APARTMENT 3101 - LIVING ROOM

She's sitting on the couch. And I'm sitting right next to her. Okay let's just say there was a 30cm gap between the both of us. I was really nervous. I found myself drinking gallons of water. I forgot to offer her anything. I was nervous to the point where I couldn't even make eye contact. I just stared at her forehead and her lips.

ME

Aren't you exhausted I mean that drive was really long ( she lived like 3 blocks away from me )

HER

Not really , I'm just really stressed about varsity and stuff I guess.

We actually start conversing with one another for 5 hours straight.We smoke about 3 cigarettes and have the most fruitful conversation ever about female energy and the power of the the heart. She's really enlightened - I thought she was really basic. We both can't go to sleep because we're actually  enjoying the presence of one another. It was cathartic and refreshing actually.

ME

Want go up to the roof and look at the universe?

HER

I'd love too.

CUT TO : COMPLEX ROOF

I brought a blanket up to the roof cause I thought it was cold. It wasn't but we just layed down underneath the open night sky and gazed into the stars. We connected with the universe/ourselves/each other. It was bliss. We ended up falling asleep on top of the roof. To my amazement we were silently wrapped around each other.

CUT TO: APARTMENT 3101 - THE KITCHEN

HER

( chuckling )
How'd you sleep

ME

( Smiling )
I slept pretty well.

ME

Do you have any plans for today?

HER

YES actually...

SEVERAL HOURS LATER: APARTMENT 3101 - KITCHEN/BEDROOM AND LIVING ROOM

The sun is setting and she still hasn't packed her bags.

ME

When are you leaving?

She said she was leaving on Sunday

HER

In 30.

ME

(I tried to not crack in front of her)
Cool.


APARTMENT 3101

About 2 weeks later she surprisingly pitches at my door with her luggage.

HER
I'm moving in with you!

I was excited at the fact that she was moving in with me but I obviously tried acting cool and composed.

CUT TO: WOLVES CAFE

As they're sitting there talking to each other about their families, Osho and meditation over a cup of tea.

ME

I was adopted.

HER

WOW - That's a huge plot twist.

She sat there speechless for about 2 minutes trying to fathom the knowledge I just presented to her.

HER

So do you ever think about your real parents?

ME

All the time - they both died in a car accident when I was 3.

HER

I'm so sorry.

ME

It's okay - I mean I know they're somewhere out there in the universe checking up on me. I speak to them when I feel lonely.

Enough about my tragic past..How are your parents?

I've never told any other soul about my parents before. She was the first person I ever told .

HER

I never knew my dad but my mom has been living with a brain tumour for like 2 years now.

ME

Wow. That's must've been so tough for you when you found out about it.

HER

It was. I went through the most vicious cycle of depression for an entire year. But I'm trying to make most of the time I have left with her.

ME

How much time do you have left to see her her and stuff ?

HER

(She starts tearing up)
3 months

CUT TO: APARTMENT 3101 - LIVING ROOM

I'm still fascinated by the fact that she's into Osho, existentialism, metaphysics and epistemology. But I also felt like our relationship had escalated so quickly. We're we rushing things? The relationship felt like it was moving at the speed of light.

ME

Do you feel like we're moving too fast ?

HER

There's no such thing, if it's meant to be it will be, whether fast or slow as long as it's true, it will last as long as you want it to.

I was momentarily tongue-tied as I was trying to digest the words she just said.

ME

......

(Still voiceless)

She still had a lot more to say after that

CUES : "rants"

But in that entire rant she said something that echoed within me.

HER

YOU KNOW I MAKE YOU HAPPY

After she said this I felt like fainting. So not only did she make me voiceless I was overwhelmed by an ocean of indescribable emotions- wow

DAYS LATER: APARTMENT 3101 - KITCHEN

I'd finally recovered from those powerful words she preached to me. So I found myself sitting in the kitchen trying to write a letter to her about how I really felt. I wasn't the best at expressing my emotions through writing but I gave it a shot.

ME

Love is the unforetold explanation for creation. Love is life. It's the merger of minds. The marriage of minds. It transcends through time, it's timeless. It takes you into a dimension filled with possibilities and opportunities. It helps you understand you are that you are not worthless. Every time I am with you I understand we are here for a reason. And every time I stare into your eyes. I realise that you are mine.  

I sealed it an envelope and put it on the kitchen counter.

LATER ON THAT DAY:

She opens the letter and starts crying.

CUT TO: THE TREEHOUSE

I introduce her to some of the guys in the treehouse. They welcomed her to the treehouse with open arms.

HER

So what do you guys do in the treehouse?

PAUL : (one of the guys part of the treehouse)

Well in the treehouse we just try to expand. We write, make music, poetry, nothing much really.

MCDONALDS DRIVE- THRU

She was to lazy to go home and cook supper she was s bit hypocritical cause she said we should stop buying junk food. So we decided to go to McDonald's. We were down to our last packet of 2 minute noodles anyway.


CUT TO: HOSPITAL

We went to visit her mother. She introduced me but there was no warmth in the hug we shared. I could feel her shrill body disintegrating. She was really cold. You could see she was dying.

HER

How've you been mom ?

MOM

She couldn't even speak properly. It was sad but when she eventually managed to responded to Ellie's question.

MOM

I'm still fighting but I don't know if I can do this for much longer.

HER

No mum you can't leave me.

MOM

I don't want to make you empty promises my child.

Who's this handsome young man Ellie?

HER

(Smiling heavily)
It's Tyler, my boyfriend

She just called me her boyfriend in front of her mom. She just put a label on our relationship. I thought it was completely platonic.

ME

Afternoon Mam. It's a pleasure to finally meet you.

I knew her name ( Stacy )  but in that moment I felt like a child in primary school - so I decided to be respectful and call her mam. I wasn't sure whether or not I should call her "Ellie's mom" or Stacy. It was just a tricky situation. So I opted for mam.

MOM

( smiling )
The pleasure is all mine Tyler.

She told me to come closer to her cause she wanted to whisper something into my ear.

MOM

Tyler I'm clearly dying as you can see. So I'm leaving with you an important task of ensuring that's my daughter remains happy at all times.Take care of her for me - please

ME

I'll take care of her - she's in safe hands.

MOM

That's the spirit Tyler. Can you give us a moment please Tyler.

HER

Just go down to the kiosk and get me a bottle of distilled water. Please.

(Tyler leaves the room)

MOM

I remember the first time you wrapped your tiny hand around my index finger , you had my soul laying on 3 cms of palm.

( Ellie interrupts )

HER

Mom don't do this , prolonging life is pure idiocy.

(she smiles as a tear rolls down her cheek )

Die so your soul can have its summer ,don't worry about my pain cause I'm really happy for you, your soul can finally taste true liberation, see my tears as autumn leaves falling from trees , I'm naked and all I can show you is the truest forms of love.

MOM

You're so beautiful because you're so true. Our connection has no equation my daughter, as I leave my body just know that my time with you transcends forever.

HER

Mother it's time for you to leave. Take a piece of my happiness, it's futile anyway and I have it in abundance but I shall be lost without you in body, I shall be found when I'm with you in soul.

MOM

Clarity comes with the last breath, as hatred and love become nothing, you are nothing and everything all at once, I'm happy for you have given it to me, tomorrow and yesterday no longer matter

(her heart stops beating and her souls goes home - heart rate monitor indicates her mom has just flat lined)

Ellie starts screaming. The nurses and doctors come sprinting in.


DOCTOR

NUURSE HAND ME THE DEFIBRILLATOR !!

HER

(in agonising pain and disbelief that her mother is dead she starts screaming)

SAVE MY MUM, PLEASE SHE CANT LEAVE ME !! YOU CANT LET HER DIE.

DOCTOR

Nurse get her out of here.

She's kicking and shoving the other nurses as she is being escorted out the room.

NURSE

Don't worry the doctors are doing all they can to save her.

Tyler comes back from the kiosk with the distilled water to find Ellie on the floor crying.

ME

What's wrong?

HER

( Her face goes pale )
She's gone ....

2 DAYS LATER: BACK AT 3101

Ellie has locked herself in my/our room. We haven't spoken to each other for like 2 weeks.

She finally decides to come out of the room.

HER

(Breaks down, again  )
It's her birthday today.

I've never seen her so broken and disfigured before. She's in pieces - distorted.

NARRATOR

Death is the door between two lives; one is left behind, one is waiting ahead. Death is the ultimate experience of this life - Osho

“Birth leads to death, death precedes birth. So if you want to see life as it really is, it is rounded on both the sides by death. Death is the beginning and death is again the end, and life is just the illusion in between. You feel alive between two deaths; the passage joining one death to another you call life. Buddha says this is not life. This life is dukkha – misery. This life is death"

HER

I WONT CRUMBLE - IM A BIG GIRL NOW. MOMMA RAISED ME TO BE A STRONG WOMAN SO IM GONNA DO THAT.

She put up this facade as if nothing ever happened. She didn't allow herself to mourn the death of her mother. She was apathetic for the next 2 weeks.

This  was a tricky phase because she either woke up angry or sad. She just rampaged through the house, didn't attend lectures - she just left a trail of destruction wherever she went. I even have the scars to prove it.

A FEW WEEKS LATER: THE DEATH ORDEAL IS FINALLY OVER

She gained about 5 kilograms in that entire period. She just kept on stuffing her face with ice cream and chocolates

HER

Tyler thanks for being there in my moment of absolute depression.

ME

I thought you were never going to be able to get yourself out of that dark abyss you were trapped in.

AT THE BEACH

The sun is setting and the couple is walking along the sand enjoying each other's company.

ME

I've got something for you Ellie

( I hope she likes it )

HER

Yes?

ME

Close your eyes

(Takes out a heart shaped pediment from back pocket  and places it around her neck )

You can open your eyes now.

HER

(Smiling)
It's lovely, thank you

ME

(Smiling back)
I'm giving you my heart but not my soul.

HER

(Blushes)

ME

(In my head)
I'm giving her my heart she better not break it.

Have you ever had that feeling before in a relationship where you think you love the other person more than they love you. To the point where you'd even get their names tattooed onto your chest. Cause that's how I feel right now.

IN THE CAR:


I'm driving Ellie to the airport. OR Tambo in fact. I'm playing some Jamie ** but I quickly change it and play my favourite song Female Energy.

CUE "FEMALE ENERGY"

ME

You excited?

HER

Yes I'm really really excited for this.

ME

I'm really gonna miss you

HER

Me too.

Ellie was completing her mothers bucket list - so she had had to travel all the way to Tibet and learn Buddhism. Nothing much really she was leaving  for 2 months.


But little did Tyler know that this was going to be the last time he sees Ellie because her plane never landed in Tibet - the plane crashed and it sunk with no no one  surviving.

STILL IN THE CAR:

Ellie hands Tyler a letter

HER

Tyler please don't open this until you get home.

ME

(Smiling)
I'll try my best.


Car parks at drop and go zone at the airport. Tyler takes out Ellie's bag from the boot.

They hug and kiss

Ellie cries.

CUT TO : "APT 3101 - LIVING ROOM "

Tyler opens the letter.

CUE "ELLIES VOICE AND ON OUR SWEATERS "


It's funny how for someone who has been so used to being lonely, the second I grip onto something that seems real, my biggest fear is losing that grip - even though for the longest time ever I've become immune to the feeling of loneliness. The same way people become dependent on other beings, people can become dependent on loneliness too - you become immune to self reassurance, your insecurities, your vulnerability and after a while it seems ideal and okay, but only because it's all you've got. You allow yourself to be consumed by this self indulgent energy making you think you don't need anybody because how else do you get by when you know that you have nobody. So when someone comes creeping in through the front door, with nothing but good intentions - you shut them out because you've lost sight of the difference in the realness of someone coming through the front door and the fakeness of someone coming through the backdoor. I struggle to fathom your presence because I didn't see you coming, through any door, you were just always there in plain sight. I don't know how to describe what I feel when I'm around you because I have never felt anything like it. All I know is that it leaves me in a place
An incomplete screenplay.
lkdl May 2015
Explaining my depression to my mother: A conversation

Mom, my depression is a shapeshifter,
One day it's as small as a firefly in the palm of a bear,
The next it's the bear.

On those days I play dead until the bear leaves me alone,
I call the bad days "the Dark Days".

Mom says try lighting candles,
But when I see a candle I see the flicker of a flame,
Sparks of a memory younger than noon.
I am standing beside her open casket
It is the moment that I learn everyone I will ever come to know will someday die.
Besides Mom, I'm not afraid of the dark, perhaps that's part of the problem.

Mom says I thought the problem was that you can't get out of bed.

I can't, anxiety holds me a hostage inside of my house inside of my head.

Mom says where did anxiety come from?

Anxiety is the cousin visiting from out of town that depression felt obligated to invite to the party.

Mom, I am the party, only I'm a party I don't want to be at.

Mom says why don't you try going to actual parties, see your friends.

Sure, I make plans, I make plans I don't want to go to.
I make plans because,
I know I should want to go,
I know sometimes I would have wanted to go.

It's just not that fun having fun when you don't want to have fun Mom.

You see Mom each night,
Insomnia sweeps me up in his arms dips me in the kitchen in the small glow of the stove-light.
Insomnia has this romantic way of making the moon feel like perfect company.

Mom says try counting sheep,
But my mind can only count reasons to stay awake.

So I go for walks, but my stuttering kneecaps clank like silver spoons held in strong arms with loose wrists.

They ring in my ears like clumsy church bells reminding me that I am sleepwalking on an ocean of happiness that I cannot
Baptize myself in.

Mom says happy is a decision,
But my happy is as hollow as a pin pricked egg.

My happy is a high fever that will break.

Mom says I am so good at making something out of nothing and then flat out asks me if I am afraid of dying.

No, Mom I am afraid of living.

Mom, I am lonely.

I think I learned that when Dad left how to turn the anger into lonely?
The lonely into busy.

So when I say I've been super busy lately,
I mean I've been falling asleep on the couch watching Sports Center
To avoid confronting the empty side of my bed.

But my depression always drags me back to my bed
Until my bones are forgotten fossils of a skeleton sunken city.

My mouth a bone yard of teeth broken from biting down on themselves.

The hollow auditorium of my chest swoons with the echoes of a heartbeat.

But I am just a careless tourist here
I will never truly know where I have been.

Mom still doesn't understand
Mom, can't you see

That neither can I.
Maggie Lane Nov 2012
Looking back, I think I knew she wasn’t going to wake up that night. Maybe I thought she wouldn’t wake up ever.
CHAPTER 1: ENDLESS SLEEP
It seemed to me that the fact that movies and stories make it appear as if sad things can only and will only occur during rain and thunder was just stupid. The weather has no affect on the events, right? But I was wrong. On Tuesday, April 18th, I began to realize this apparently idiotic movie ploy might have an inkling of truth buried in it.
That day, the kids had teased me again, but to be totally honest, I didn’t mind it then and I don’t mind it now. It had begun to rain when I was halfway down 17th street. I had immediately removed my shoes and socks, and stuffed them into my bag, which was already overflowing with scraps of paper and books. Most of the books had been for free time reading, and are currently lying in a heap in my room at Dad's, where they will remain unread until I decide to forget that awful, horrible, tragic day.
I ran all the way to our apartment, but went the long way and danced and twirled as my un-zippered jacked flapped uselessly behind me. My lungs burned white-hot, but my body was freezing, a feeling I still to this day enjoy. By the time I had reached the alleyway behind the crumbling yet comforting building, I was soaked through, and I loved it. I decided to go around back so Martin would have no excuse to yell at me in that foul, ill-tempered way that made the skin underneath his chin jiggle. I had started towards the rusted door when I saw her. Of course, it hadn't been her. She had been inside, where she alway waited for me to get home. But I had felt on that day as protective of her as she always insisted upon being with me.
I grasped the icy handle and slipped inside, the warmth of the building suffocating rather than comforting me. To this day, I prefer being cold, because it clears the mind, and warmth clouds it, like the foul demon that lures you into the endless sleep that tried to take my mother that day. I climbed the steps; the sudden noise of my feet on the stairs was like a rock sliding under the water, breaking the calm.
I remember how the climb up the stairs that day had seemed especially long. But mostly, I remember how the apartment smelled when I finally reached the top and slid the key into the lock, turning it noisily. I remember the smell, and how the instant it hit my nose I knew that I wasn’t to expect the warm, gentle mother I came to expect most days, but that I was going to get the harsh, drunken version, when she had been smoking and on drugs.
Resignedly, I called, “MOM! I'm home from school!” only then I hadn't known that I would never get an answer. I dumped my soaking bag unceremoniously in the hall, and it hit the floor with a wet thump, splattering mud on the tiles. When she didn't respond, I had frowned; a face Andrew tells me makes me look somehow more mysterious.
The trip I had then taken to her room revealed only that she had passed out on the bed, and that she smelt of sadness. But at that time, sadness wasn't uncommon. I don't remember how long I stood there, but I know that when I finally awoke from my thoughts, I showered and got into my softest pajamas. I settled down to do my homework, but I hadn't been trying hard, so when the time had come to make dinner, I had only made the smallest of dents.
Simply because I had been tired and hadn't been up to making anything more complicated, I made tomato soup. Mom always used to make my soup with milk rather than water, so that was how I made it too. I poured the soup into mugs, because we always liked to drink it rather than eat it. I remember sipping from my mug, and I remember how the warmth burned the roof of my mouth. The heat of it brought tears to my eyes, which were every bit as salty as the soup. I walked to her room, and knocked on the door, the sound echoing through the apartment. She hadn’t answered though, so I entered with the intention of waking her up.
“Mom!” I had said. “Wake up, I made dinner!” and I set the mugs down on her bedside table. With my freed hands, I had shaken her shoulder softly. She didn't wake though, which had surprised me, for she always woke instantly as if her dreams were frail and easy to shatter.
“Mom!” I had raised my voice, and I shook her more vigorously. “MOM!” I think it was on the third time that I finally began to realize, but I still shook her.
On the fifth try I had begun to cry, and on the sixth the calm part of me told the hysterical part: *She is fine. She will wake in the morning, I promise. She will wake.
That was the first time I ever lied to myself.
I remember pulling the covers on the bed over her, and then gingerly lying down next to her. Mom. I kept thinking to myself, as if my mere thoughts might wake her. But I had known she wasn't gone, for I felt her breath next to me, soft, shallow, and hardly discernible from my own, yet still breathing. I had drunk the rest of my soup, but left hers, telling myself she would drink it when she woke. Now, looking back, I realize how stupid it was of me to have thought that she would wake up.
I don't even remember falling asleep that night, but I must have, for in the morning when I woke I looked quickly over at her, hoping, wishing that she might have risen. I remember shaking her again, pleading, “Mom, it's the morning, and you missed dinner but it's okay, I will make you more if you please wake up, please momma. Please,” But she didn't heed me. I remember sitting in bed with her all morning, watching the clock. I didn't get ready for school. My mom was more important, I told myself. When the clock had ticked from 8:29 to 8:30, I knew the bell had rung, and I was late. I guess to me that had been a signal: The rest of the world has continued without us. I remember standing up and padding to the kitchen, and grabbing the wireless phone. I remember how icy cold it had felt, as opposed to the warmth and comfort of the bed in Mom's room. For once I simply craved the innocent warmth from my mother's inert body. I walked back in and sat on the edge of the bed. I dialed 9-1-1 and hit the 'call' button.
“This is 9-1-1 what is your emergency?” a rough male voice had said.
“I-” I had to clear my throat from lack of use. “My mom was passed out last night when I got home from school. I thought she would wake up, like she always does, but she hasn't. She is still breathing. Please come,” I had said all that with a flat voice, refusing the awful feeling in my throat that warned of tears.
“What is your location?” he asked, his voice softer now.
“913 Alvarado,” I whisper. “Fourth floor, number 413. My name is Sierra Banks.”
“Paramedics are on their way, ok?”
“Ok,” I recall how loud the click was when he hung up, and I felt the cold, empty silence press down and around me until I couldn't stand it anymore. I wanted to talk to someone, anyone, except the police officers who sounded way too casual. My mom's life might be on the line, and all they do is talk in monotone. Like they don’t care about all those lives. I knew then that I was being unfair, and that they were simply used to losing lives, but...
I looked up at the soup mugs on the table and next to them...her cell. The last person she talked to. I scooped it up, went to last calls, and hit redial.
Ring...Ring...Ring... “Hello, Clemens residence.”
“Dad.” The pain of hearing his voice then was the same as when I hear it every day now. Regret had instatly clouded my heart with the cold wall I built four years ago. Tears began to pour down my cheeks, but I can't recall now if they were hot and scalding, or cold.
“Sierra?” his voice too had become thick, and I hated him for crying. He left us.
“Yes,” I had been unable to force any other meaningless words at him. I hadn't seen him in four years, when we visited him, his beautiful new wife, and worst of all, his new baby girl. He replaced me! My throat burns to think of it. I hadn't thought of Lila, my step sister, and my replacement since she was born. Fury built up inside me. Why did mom call them last? Why does she still hold his number in her phone even after he left? And most importantly, what did they talk about? I still haven't forgotten these questions, but I most certainly haven't got any answers.
“Dad, mom is in trouble. She hasn't woken up since yesterday. I thought she would wake up but she hasn't. The ambulance is on its way,” Instantaneously, I hated myself for telling him, pouring out how scared I was. He didn't deserve to know, to pretend to feel sorry.
“Oh Sierra. Oh my beautiful daug-” he began, but I had already ended the call. How dare he call me beautiful? He hadn't seen me in so many years. He didn't deserve to pretend he care. Maybe I loved him once, but not anymore. I didn’t, and still don’t, want his sympathy, his false words, dripping in I-told-you-so. But most importantly, I didn’t want him to hear me cry.
Now I find myself having to live with him, and have to be constantly aware of him walking in on me. Like the other day when he walked into my room to see how I was doing with homework and found me rocking and bawling on the bed. Gasps had escaped from me in rapid succession; my sobs had shaken the bed so that it creaked softly. My lips curled apart from my teeth as I convulsed. I sniffed loudly and, gradually, my sobs had died down. Eventually too, my ears had regained their sense, and their voices had drifted to me from outside my bubble of silence.
Most days I had control enough to save my tears for the night or not cry at all. A week ago my English teacher had made us write letters to our parents. I had asked if I could write mine to someone else, because I was still furious at my dad, and mom left me. I know that she was in a coma, and she can't help it now, but I remember all the times that I was strong through her rampages. It didn't matter anyways, because Mr. Steiner blatantly refused. I decided to write it to mom, since I refused those days to even to acknowledge that I had a father.
And to this day I remember every word, for I read that letter a hundred times that day, until I had it committed to memory, so that I could have it with me, where ever I might be.
The ambulance arrived about five minutes after I hung up on Richard. The memory of crying, and rocking endlessly in pitch blackness made me refuse even to call him my father. What I kind of father, I asked myself, leaves his daughter crying, without comforting her, when the only person who ever loved her, is a million miles away? 'Mine,' I had answered myself, bitterly.
Dorothy A Jun 2012
With great recollection, there were a few things in life that Ivy Jankauskas would always remember—always.

She would never forget where she was when 9/11 happened; she was in her algebra class, doodling a picture on a piece of notebook paper of her dog, Zoey—bored out of her mind by Mr. Zabbo’s lecture—when she first heard the shocking news. Certainly, she could remember when she first properly fell in love; she was fresh into college when she knew that she loved Trevor Littlefield—the day after they agreed to get back together, right after the day they decided to split up—after she finally realized that she really loved him, much more than she ever, really, consciously thought. She would forever remember when her parents first took her to Disneyland; she was seven and got her picture taken with Snow White and Mickey Mouse, and she instantly decided that she wanted to become a professional Tinkerbelle when she grew up.

And, like it or not, she could remember her very first kiss. She had just turned five, and it was at her birthday party. How could she ever forget those silly paper hats, and all her little playmates wearing them? They were a good sized group of children, mostly from the neighborhood and her kindergarten class, which watched her open present after present. Ivy remembered her cherry cake, with white frosting, and the stain she had when she dropped a piece on her pretty, new dress that her mother had bought her just for the occasion.  

It was later that day, behind her garage, that Gordon Zachary Durand, the Third, a boy her same age, planted one on her. It was a strange sensation, she recalled—icky, wet and sloppy, and Gordon nearly missed her mouth. Not expecting it, Ivy made a face, puckering up her lips—but not for another kiss—as if she had just ****** on a spoiled lemon. Ever since then, it was the beginning of the dislike she had for Gordon Zachary Durand, the Third. She didn’t exactly know why—there was just something about him that bugged her from then on.

There grew to be several reasons why Ivy knew that Gordon was a ****, something she first sensed at her birthday party behind the garage. Since about third grade, children picked on Ivy’s name, teasing her by calling her “Poison Ivy”.  And the one who seemed to be the loudest and most obnoxious of the name callers, chiming in with the other bullies, was Gordon Zachary Durand, the Third.  Ivy was proud of her name up until then, but the taunts made her self conscious. Her mother told her to be proud of her name, for it was unique and different, as she was unique and an individual. Still, Ivy felt uncomfortable with her name for quite a while. Only in adulthood, did she feel somewhat better about it.

A bit of a tomboy back then in school, she would have loved to punch Gordon right in the nose. If only she could get away with it! What a joke! Who would name their child Gordon anyway? She had thought it was far worse than hers.

So to counter his verbal assaults to her name, Ivy called Gordon, “Flash Gordon”, after the science fiction hero from TV and the comics. But Gordon was no hero to her. He was more of a villain, creepy, vile, and just plain mean!

Soon, new name of him caught on, and other kids were joining her. She had a smug sense of satisfaction that Gordon grew furious of the title, for it stuck to him like glue.

Gordon’s family lived right around the block, just minutes away from where Ivy lived. Ivy’s mom, Gail, and Gordon’s mom, Lucy, both went to the same Lithuanian club, and both encouraged their children to take up Lithuanian folk dancing. Ivy remembered she was eight-years-old when she began dancing. It was three years of Hell, she had thought, wearing those costumes, with long, flowery skirts, frilly blouses, aprons, caps and laced vests, and performing for all the parents and families in attendance. Worst of all, she often had to dance with Gordon, and he was one of only three boys that was dragged into taking up folk dancing by their mothers. Probably all of those boys went into it kicking and screaming, so Ivy had thought.

Many years have came and gone since those days. Ivy was now a lovely, young woman, tall and dark blonde, and with a Master’s degree in sociology, working as a social worker in the prison system. Ivy’s parents would never have imagined that she would work in a field, in such places, but she found it quite rewarding, helping those who often wished for or were in need of redemption.    

When Ivy came over to visit her mom one day, her mother had told her some news. “Gordon Durand’s mother passed away”, Gail announced. It was quite disturbing.

“What? When?” Ivy replied, her face full of shock.

“Well, it must have been a few days ago. I saw the obituary in the paper, and a couple of people from the Lithuanian club called me to tell me. The funeral will be Friday. Why, I didn’t even know she was sick! She must have hid from just about everyone. If only I knew, I would have gone to see her and make sure she know I cared”.

It had been a long time since Ivy saw Gordon, ever since high school. Now, they were both twenty-six-years-old. It never occurred to her to ever think of Gordon, to have him fixed in her mind like a fond memory from the past.

“Could of, would of, should of—don’t beat yourself up, Mom” Ivy told her "I guess I should go pay my respects”. But Ivy was not sure if she really should do it, or really if she wanted to do it. “Mrs. Durand was a nice lady. Sometimes, it is the nice ones that die young. What did she die of anyway?”

Ivy’s mom was pouring herself and her daughter a cup of coffee. “I believe it was leukemia. In the obituary, it asks for donations to be made to the Leukemia Society of America”.

Ivy shook her head in disbelief.  As she was sitting down with her mother at the kitchen table, drinking her coffee, her mom shocked her even more. Gail said, “Only twenty-six, same as you, and now Gordon has no mother or father! How tragic to lose your parents at such a young age! It breaks my heart to think of him without his parents, even though he is a grown up man now!”

“What?!” Ivy shouted in disbelief. “When did Gordon’s dad die?!”

Gail sipped on her coffee mug. “Oh, a few years ago, I believe. Time sure flies, so maybe it was longer than I think”. Gail had a far away look on her face like she was earnestly calculating the time in her mind.

“He died? You never told me that! How come you never told me?”

Under normal circumstances, the thought of Gordon Zachary Durand, the Third, would almost want to make Ivy cringe. But now Ivy was feeling very sad for him.  

“I did!” Gail defended herself. “You just don’t remember, or you weren’t listening. I am sure I told you!”

Gail was a round faced woman, with light, crystal blue eyes that always seemed warm in spite of their icy color. Ivy was quite close to her mother, her parents’ only child. She was grateful that her dad, Max, was still around, too, unlike the thought of Gordon’s dad dying. She felt that she could not have asked for better parents. They loved her and built her up to be who she was, and she felt that they could be proud of how she turned out, not the stereotypically spoiled, only child, not entitled to have everything, but one who was willing to do her share in life.  

“I would have remembered, Mom!” Ivy insisted. “I would remember a thing like that! What happened to him? Did you go to the funeral home?”

“I think he had a heart attack”, Gail replied, tapping her finger on her temple to indicate that she remembered. “I did go…oh, wait a minute. You were in Europe with your friends. It was the year after you graduated from high school, I believe. You couldn’t possibly have gone to the funeral home at that time”.

Since Gail did not want to go to Daytona Beach, in Florida, for her senior trip, her parents saved up the money for her to go to Germany and Italy. Ivy wasn’t into being a bikini clad sun goddess, nor was she thrilled by the rowdy behavior of crowds of *** craved teens—a choice that her parents were quite grateful that she chose, level headed as she was.

Since she was a little girl, Ivy dreamed of going to Europe. Her parents, both grandchildren of Lithuanian immigrants, would have loved for her to go to Lithuania, but Ivy and two of her friends had found a safe, escorted trip to go elsewhere,  on to where Ivy always dreamed of going—to see the Sistine Chapel and to visit her pen pal of eleven years, Ursula Friedrich, in Munich.  

Now, Ivy was available to visit the funeral home for Gordon’s mother, and she had decided to go with her mother. Not seeing Gordon in years, Ivy had her misgivings, not knowing what to expect when encountering him. Perhaps, he would be different now, but maybe he would prove to be quite the ****.

As she came, she noticed Gordon’s sister, Deirdre, and she gave her a hug. “I’m so sorry to hear about your mom. She was so nice”, Ivy told Deirdre. She felt uncomfortable talking to Deirdre, for she did not know what to say other than the usual, I am sorry for your loss. It was “sympathy card” talk, and Ivy felt like she was quoting something contrived from a Hallmark store.    

Deirdre was two years older than Gordon. She slightly smiled at Ivy and sighed. She must have said just about the same thing all day long, “It is good of you to come. Thank you for your kind support. Mom would appreciate it”.

Ivy looked around the room. There were many flowers, in vases and baskets, and people surrounding the casket. Ivy could not see Mrs. Durand in the coffin, for people were in the way, her mother included. She was glad she couldn’t see the body from her view.

Funeral homes gave her the creeps, ever since she was thirteen years old and her grandmother died, her father’s mother, and she had to stay at the funeral home all day long. Even a whiff of some, certain flowers was not pleasant to smell. They reminded her of being at a place like this, certainly not evoking thoughts of joy.          

Ivy looked around the room. “Where is Gordon?” she asked Deirdre.

Deirdre sighed again. “Gordon cannot handle death very well”, she admitted. “Go outside and look. He has been hanging around the building outside, getting some fresh air and insisting he needs a big break from all this.”

Ivy shook her head and smirked. “That sounds like Gordon, I must say”  

“Yeah”, Deirdre agreed, as she looked like Gordon’s help to her was a lost cause. “And he’s leaving me to do all the important work—talking to people who come in while he goes away and escapes from reality”.

Ivy went outside to search for Gordon. Sure enough, she found him by the side of the building, under a broad, shady tree. He was having a cigarette, standing all by himself, when he saw her approach.

Gordon looked the same—wavy brown hair and freckles, but much more grown up and sophisticated, his suit jacked off and his tie loosened up. Ivy knew that he always hated wearing ties. She knew that when both her mom and his mom convinced them to go out with each other—a huge twist of their arms—to the Fall Fest Dance in ninth grade and in junior high school. Gordon’s mom bribed him to go with her by promising to double his allowance for the month, and Ivy actually had a silly crush on Gordon’s cousin, Ben, hoping that she might get to talk to him if she went with Gordon to the dance.

Ivy glanced at Gordon’s cigarette, and he noticed. “Been trying to quit”, Gordon told her as she approached. He dropped it on the sidewalk and stepped on it to put it out. His face was somber as he added without any emotion, as if parroting his own voice, “Ivy Jankauskas—how the hell have you been?” It sounded like he had just seen her in a matter of months instead of years.

Well, at least he had no problem identifying her or remembering her name. She must not have changed that drastically—and hopefully for the better.

Ivy stood there before him, as he looked her down from head to toe. Same old Gordon! She thought he was probably giving her “the inspection”. She thought he almost looked handsome in his brown suit vest and pants—almost—with a sharp look of sophistication that Gordon probably wasn’t accustomed to. Surely, Ivy had no real respect for him.

“I’m well”, she responded. “But the question is more like…how are you doing?” Ivy studied Gordon’s blank expression. “No—really. I’d like to know how you are coping”.

Gordon stood there looking at the ground, his hands in his pants pockets, like he never heard her. “Come on. Let’s go for a walk”

“Here? Now?”

“Just a short work, around the block”, he told her. He already started walking, and Ivy contemplated what to do before she decided to follow up with him to join him.

They walked together in silence for a while. From anyone passing by, they surely would have looked like a couple, a well-paired couple that truly enjoyed each other’s company. Ivy could not believe she was actually walking with him. Gordon Zachary Durand, the Third? Of all people!

“You haven’t answered my question”, Ivy said. “How are you coping? You know I really liked your mom a lot. She always was pleasant to me”.

She wanted to add, “Unlike you”, but it certainly was not the right time or the right place. She felt a twinge of guilt for thinking such a thing. Under more pleasant circumstances, she would have jabbed him a little. That was just how they always communicated, not necessarily in a mean-spirited way, but in a brotherly and sisterly way that involved plenty of teasing.

Gordon thought a moment before he answered. “Yeah, it’s hard. But what can I do? I lost my dad. I lost my mom. Period. End of discussion. I’m too old to be an orphan…but I kind of feel like one anyhow. That’s my answer, in a nutshell”.

“And I wish I knew about your dad”, Ivy said, with a great tone of remorse. “I was in Europe at the time, and I couldn’t have possibly gone to the funeral”.

“Europe? Wow! Aren’t you the jet setter? Who else gets to do that kind of stuff but you, Ivy?”

Now that was the Gordon she always knew! It did not take long for the true Gordon to come forth and show himself.

“No! I don’t have all kinds of money!” she quickly defended herself. “I actually helped pay for some of that trip by working all summer after we graduated from high school. Plus, it was the trip of a lifetime. I may never get the chance to go again on a trip like that again”.  

Ivy was a bit perturbed that Gordon seemed to imply that she was pampered by her parents. He accused her of that before, just because she was an only child.

Autumn was approaching, but summer was still in the air. It was Ivy’s favorite time of year, with the late summer and early autumn, all at the same time.  The trees were just starting to turn colors, but the sun felt nice and warm upon her as Ivy walked along. It was surely an Indian summer day, one that wouldn’t last forever. She wore a light sweater over her sleeveless, cotton dress, and took it off to experience more of the sun.

“It has been ages since I’ve seen you”, Gordon admitted. “Since high school. So what became of you? Did you ever go to college?”

“I did and I work as a social worker…I work in various prisons”

Gordon laughed out loud, and Ivy gave him a stern look. “What’s so funny?” she demanded.

“I just can’t picture you going in the slammer, even if you aren’t wearing an orange suit”, he said in between laughing. He looked at Ivy, and she had quite a frown on her face. He changed his tune. “I was only joking, Ivy. I think you’d probably do good work at your job”.  

“And where do you work?” she asked, a devilish expression on her face. “At the circus?”

Ivy caught herself becoming snarky to Gordon. It did not take long. She opened her mouth to apologize, but Gordon, sensing her need to be sorry, stopped her.

Laughing even more, he said, “Good one! You are sharp and fast on your feet! You always have been! I work for an insurance agency. I work for Triple A”.

“Oh, really? Do you like your job?” Ivy asked. Her interest was genuine.

“It pays the bills. But, hey! I am going back to college in January. I just have an Associate’s degree right now. I am not sure what I want to take up, but I want to go back and at least get a Bachelor’s”.

“That’s great!” Ivy exclaimed. “I think you should keep on learning and keep on moving forward. That is a great goa
Maya Martin Sep 2015
Explaining My Depression to My Mother: A Conversation
Mom, my depression is a shape shifter.
One day it is as small as a firefly in the palm of a bear,
The next, it’s the bear.
On those days I play dead until the bear leaves me alone.
I call the bad days: “the Dark Days.”
Mom says, “Try lighting candles.”
When I see a candle, I see the flesh of a church, the flicker of a flame,
Sparks of a memory younger than noon.
I am standing beside her open casket.
It is the moment I learn every person I ever come to know will someday die.
Besides Mom, I’m not afraid of the dark.
Perhaps, that’s part of the problem.
Mom says, “I thought the problem was that you can’t get out of bed.”
I can’t.
Anxiety holds me a hostage inside of my house, inside of my head.
Mom says, “Where did anxiety come from?”
Anxiety is the cousin visiting from out-of-town depression felt obligated to bring to the party.
Mom, I am the party.
Only I am a party I don’t want to be at.
Mom says, “Why don’t you try going to actual parties, see your friends?”
Sure, I make plans. I make plans but I don’t want to go.
I make plans because I know I should want to go. I know sometimes I would have wanted to go.
It’s just not that fun having fun when you don’t want to have fun, Mom.
You see, Mom, each night insomnia sweeps me up in his arms dips me in the kitchen in the small glow of the stove-light.
Insomnia has this romantic way of making the moon feel like perfect company.
Mom says, “Try counting sheep.”
But my mind can only count reasons to stay awake;
So I go for walks; but my stuttering kneecaps clank like silver spoons held in strong arms with loose wrists.
They ring in my ears like clumsy church bells reminding me I am sleepwalking on an ocean of happiness I cannot baptize myself in.
Mom says, “Happy is a decision.”
But my happy is as hollow as a pin pricked egg.
My happy is a high fever that will break.
Mom says I am so good at making something out of nothing and then flat-out asks me if I am afraid of dying.
No.
I am afraid of living.
Mom, I am lonely.
I think I learned that when Dad left how to turn the anger into lonely —
The lonely into busy;
So when I tell you, “I’ve been super busy lately,” I mean I’ve been falling asleep watching Sports Center on the couch
To avoid confronting the empty side of my bed.
But my depression always drags me back to my bed
Until my bones are the forgotten fossils of a skeleton sunken city,
My mouth a bone yard of teeth broken from biting down on themselves.
The hollow auditorium of my chest swoons with echoes of a heartbeat,
But I am a careless tourist here.
I will never truly know everywhere I have been.
Mom still doesn’t understand.
Mom! Can’t you see that neither can I?
I do not own this poem! All credit goes to Sabrina Benaim. This might already have been posted a few times on this website, but I have always enjoyed this poem. So, here you go!

— The End —