Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Mother Theresa Comes for Drinks Part 1

I’ve been wanting to write about my relationship with my mother, but even three years after her death, I still struggle to describe our connection without falling back on clichés. I loved and admired her at the same time that I loathed and rejected some of her behaviors. Advice that is often given to writers is to “show, don’t tell.” So here’s a story about a time that my mother visited me.

My mother usually made the trek from southern California to eastern Oregon to see me and her grandchildren once a year. She would visit for at least a week, stay with the grandchildren while I was at work and do all those housekeeping tasks that a working mother never has time to get to.  I would come home from work to dinner cooking, all the laundry clean and folded, and my ironing basket empty. I appreciated the help, but like most things of value, there was a price.

One day after work I invited several co-workers, including my boss, back to my house for drinks. We sat out on the patio enjoying the warm spring weather and my mother charmed my guests with her English accent and self-deprecating humor. Everyone told me how lucky I was to have a mother who would spend her vacation digging through piles of laundry and ironing. My mother basked in the glory of her newly adopted Mother Theresa persona. We ate appetizers and had another round of drinks. Our conversation rambled over current events and local controversies including a teacher who had been arrested at the middle school. I went in the house to get more snacks and returned to the patio to hear my mother saying “Jann was molested when she was five by a school employee.” I stood stunned watching my boss and co-workers listen to my mother tell the complete story of my molestation, reporting the abuse to the police, and the eventual trial.

As I write these words I am still at a loss about what to say. That day I served the snacks, returned to my seat, and pretended that everything was fine. That’s what we did in my family…never talk , never confront, pretend that everything is fine.


  1. What a betrayal, how horrible. Was she terminally insensitive, or just deliberately cruel?

  2. I had a hard time reading this post because I felt so bad for you. Mothers, now that is another topic for a blog...

  3. I missed your introduction. You did a great job of showing. I hope that you continue to explore this topic in writing. I am trying to do the same thing: explore my relationship with my mother. I have not decided on if it is appropriate for my blog. Your's fit your blog well.


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