The Secret Mom.

20 Sep

This is how I like to remember my mom.

I know how most people remember my mom.  Smart. Tough. That’s probably the two words people say the most.  “Your mom was intense, she was amazing, she was tough, she pushed me, she challenged me, she was strong, she was basically a bad ass.”

And all of those things are absolutely true.

She was also completely hysterical.  She was goofy (as evidenced by the face she’s making with Harry.)  She was a great drinker, a lover of scotch and full bodied red wines.  Cooking with my mom meant opening a bottle of something.  After a long day I do what my mom used to do: change my clothes, pour myself a glass of wine.

My mom had the worst sense of storytelling I’ve ever seen in a brilliant writer.  She’d tell you a story about getting the ceiling fans replaced by this amazing lesbian couple and it would seriously sound like she had a point.  It sounded like there was a payoff.  But she never had one.

She got hit on a lot.  She smoked cigarettes for a lot longer than she told my dad, once telling me that it helped deflect men hitting on her on airplanes.  She fought loud and she fought dirty – she always had a line you just couldn’t believe, like she secretly had Tennessee Williams writing retorts for your argument over curfew extensions.

But mostly she was an original.  I hear about people seeing their mom or dad in other people and I still haven’t had that happen.  My mom even told me she once followed a man she saw driving down the highway, driving after him for 30 miles or so, because she was convinced it was her dead father.  I haven’t had that.

She died two years ago tomorrow.  And it is better than it was last year.  Better than the year it happened.  It isn’t acute.  But what never goes away is how much I want to talk to her and how devastating it is when I realize I can’t call.  I never want to call to complain.  Or almost never.  I just want to call to talk, to make a joke, to hear a joke, to hear a long rambling story.  There’s a secret Bernice, one that almost nobody ever met.  One that my sister and dad and I were privileged to know and love.

I don’t miss the tough mom, the warrior mom, the one who turned her disease into a one woman crusade.  I miss the one who used to sing “Islands In The Stream” and make fun of Daniel Shore’s denture problems and who taught me how to make a well-timed eye-roll.

3 Responses to “The Secret Mom.”

  1. Bill M September 20, 2010 at 10:28 pm #

    What a toughtful lovely essay beth. You are a wonderful writer and I know your mom is smiling right now. 🙂

  2. z. September 21, 2010 at 8:12 am #

    Love to you, your sis, and your dad today.

  3. sara September 23, 2010 at 5:15 pm #

    I want to hear “Hey Sara, its your mom” in that tone she always used. With a exhale in the middle.
    I have a mental list of things I would ask her for advice about.
    Thank you for writing about her so well.

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