My mother had a story for every occasion, usually along these call and response lines -- you might say, I'm getting a wisdom tooth pulled and she'd say, I knew someone who died getting a wisdom tooth pulled. Ended up in the hospital with a blood infection and died. When I got all four of my badly infected wisdom teeth pulled, I was put under so deeply that I didn't wake up until I was home in bed. I crawled to the telephone and dialed home, told my mother that I did not have to mind her or obey her rules anymore and promptly hung up. The glories of painkiller! I was about twenty-nine when this happened, and my only company for the entire day of pain was a creepy-ass Tigger doll, a gift from my then-boyfriend whose head moved back and forth as if possessed. Tigger spoke, saying things like, How's about let's do some counting? Or my favorite -- How's about sharing a secret? I don't know what we talked about as I worried about getting dry sockets, but I can only imagine that if it was like the phone call to my mother, I spent the entire time saying what I would and would not be doing anymore.
A couple years later, my mother was dead and there would not be any phone calls to make except ones I did not want to make. The most complicated relationship in my life had ended and what was there to say? I think about her often, of course, in the most confused of ways, with great love and great fear. Sometimes I see her in my own expressions and it startles me. I like to think of her at her best -- brave and strong and funny before life turned on her and broke her down. But that's not the whole story. She is, even dead, my ultimate cautionary tale, someone full of life and death, someone lonely beyond belief, someone damaged by a terrible past, infused by a better future, the woman I am most like, my mother.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"I lived in a graveyard full of dolls/ avoiding myself." Anne Sexton
Drinking essay suggestion: Plan B Anne Lamott
Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Mother's Day!