Letters to my Mother
"Yours Truly, your loving daughter Anita"
Dearest Dearest Mother,
Hello Mom! It's been so long since I've talked to you. How have you been...besides dead of course? (haha! I'm kidding Ma! You remember how much we joked around and laughed in our family. That's a good, thing, but it's also what probably gave me the smile lines I have today...that's a bad thing. I'm joking again!)
First of all, I want to tell you how much we have all missed you and I hope that wherever you are, it is good. Your kids have all grown up Ma, and we have all made it further in age than you did. I'm not surprised about your untimely and early death though. Remember those stupid cotton mills that you worked at? The ones where in the morning, you would walk in ready to start a new day, freshly bathed and lipsticked. Your face powdered, your long coal black hair sometimes flowing, sometimes done up in pin curls that were held in by a kerchief. Do you recall how when you walked out of those doors at closing time, your jet black hair would be almost totally white from the cotton fibers and crap constantly blowing around the Mill? Anyway Mum, I think that could be how you got throat cancer. There is some type of cancer out there called Mesothelioma that is advertised on TV alot and they say that you could get it from working in the mills, shipyards or with asbestos. Most of all those Mills in New England have shut down though. They have turned a lot of those ugly death camps into beautiful Condominiums and little Specialty Stores. Oh! I almost forgot - you probably don't know what a Condominium is! I guess that this letter may end up being very confusing for you at times, what with all of the new contraptions that have been invented since you left. I'll do my best to explain along the way, but forgive me if I forget from time to time to explain what some of these new modern devices are, as they are things that we now use every day and I might forget that they did not exist when you were living. Anyway, a Condominium is just another name for a glorified apartment that you own (like you own a house), rather than an apartment as you know it, that you rent. Last year Ma, I got Rita to come up from Mississippi for a visit! I don't know how I got her to leave her County, never mind the state of Mississippi, but I did! Catherine and I brought Rita around to places she hadn't been to in over 60 years. We went over to Philips Exeter Academy and we went to you girls' old Elementary School: St. Michael's. A new family lives in Meme and Pepe's old house on Bunker Hill Ave. of course, but this young couple let us go inside their house so that we all could take a walk down memory lane! How wonderful of them to allow us into their home. Rita told us how Pepe would sneak down in the cellar whenever Auntie Emma visited, just so he could get away from her. She said that Pepe would let you two girls go down there with him to drink Coca-Colas and watch TV, while the Evil Sisters (Meme and Aunty Emma) would sit upstairs at the kitchen table drinking coffee, stuffing their bottom lip with snuff, while gossiping in French all day long! We made Rita cry Mum. Not when we brought her to the cemetary to see where you and Dad are buried, although she did get misty eyed there, but she outright cried when we got out of the car at the Mills. She recalled how half of the family worked there, and how most were silently dieing there. She understood how the younger generation, new residents in town and how passers by might look up at these massive brick structures and through blind eyes see beautifully refurbished buildings turned into expensive Condos. But as day turns to dusk and the buildings cast their long dark shadows, the old timers of the town can feel the presence of the ghosts hidden inside. I'm sure Rita felt them.
But let's get back to now. Wow! It's been so long since I've talked to you! We have a lot to catch up on, as so many things and changes have occured since you left. And I have yet to tell you about us five kids and Dad!! Being a Mom, I'm sure that's what you're most interested in. Well, you needn't say, "I told you so", but Mike and Kathleen did get a divorce. But you was always wrong on that one Ma. I think you just didn't want to see your oldest son leave home and get married is what I think. Kathleen was a good girl. All of us kids loved her Ma. Don't you remember how we always called Mike, "The Bully"? I think that Kathleen did right by leaving, came out of her small-town, timid, oppressed shell and finally started to live when she left Mike. Mike got married again to another lovely girl, named Barbara, and they had two kids. (Isn't that funny Ma...Dad was married to two Barbaras, you and Dad named one of your kids Barbara, and Mike married a Barbara?) Mike has a son and daughter and the boy was named after Mike. We have callled "little" Mike or "Baby Mike"...well...ever since he was a baby! Now that "Baby Mike" is 30 years old, it's just fun to still call him "Baby Mike". By the way Ma, you have 11 grandchildren and 5 great grandchildren.
Okay, back to Mike. His second wife passed away from cancer of the kidney a few years back. She was young like you, but not as young. She was just ready to turn 50 and you were, what: 42? Mike was in the Navy at the time of your death. After that, he worked and retired from the Post Office.
I think that "our" Barbara was in college, living up North when you got sick, but I'm not sure. Barb was married once and was divorced shortly after. She married a Barber in town, just like Dad was "the" Barber in town. Barb had your first grandchild; a girl. Yes, Barbara's daughter got to have that HUGE Panda Bear you won at the Town Fair, being your first grandchild born! Your wishes were upheld there Ma! I remember how your name was on the First Raffle Ticket they pulled, at the Fair, and how you had your choice of a Row Boat or that Great Big Stuffed Panda Bear! You had it in your head, that you wanted that HUGE Bear for your first grandchild, and Dad being a boat owner and fisherman most of his life, let you choose that Panda Bear! That's Love Ma. We all learned love in that house. (We learned to fight a lot in that house too, but we mostly learned about love). Anyway, Barb hasn't always had it that easy. She likes the "brown bottle" a lot, just like you and Dad did, andso does Alan, and most of the rest of the family. Barbara works at a "Dollar Tree" and is going to retire next year.
This is something new to you Ma! They have a lot of these stores now called, "Dollar Tree", "Dollar General", "Family Dollar", etc... Everything in the store costs one dollar: toothpaste, wrapping paper, books, balloons, etc... Now I know that you are rolling over in your grave (literally) about things like toothpaste for a Dollar and a Coca-Cola for a Dollar, but you wouldn't believe inflation Ma! Remember when gas was 29 cents a gallon and Coca-Colas were a nickel? Well, gas is about $3.50 a gallon and a Coca-Cola will cost you a Dollar. I'm not lieing!
Anyway, that's pretty much the story on Barb for now, except that she AND Alan both have moved to the state of Virginia! Barb's daughter moved there with her husband and one of your great granddaughters and Barb and Alan live with them.
Catherine is doing okay. I think she could have had a happier life, but you know Cathy. She was always a "looker", so she fell for the good looking guys who are not always necessarily, the good guys. She DID marry Buddy after all. The red-haired, Italian stallion, Massachusetts kid she met at the street dances. That didn't last long, but you know what they say, "It is better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved at all". I am glad that Catherine and Buddy got together, even if it didn't work out in the end. It was like a modern day Romeo and Juliet, and if Romeo and Juliet hadn't have drank the poison...they probably would have gotten a divorce eventually also.
Cathy got remarried. He's in the AA program. AA stands for Alcoholics Anonymous. When I look back at it Ma...almost all the adults we knew (you, Dad, all the Aunts and Uncles), you all should or could have qualified for that program yourselves; that is if it even existed back then, if there were the numerous amounts of meetings and meeting places available like there are today, and if you all knew you had a problem. I guess when you and your siblings and your peers and elders, "all" drink a lot all of the time, it's hard to see that anyone has a problem. Cathy had one son and later adopted two more boys. My husband and I were foster parents for quite a few years and then Cathy and Mike became foster parents also. You know Cathy; she could never turn away an animal or a friend in need, so they adopted two of the boys they were taking care of. For the most part, Cathy was a stay-at-home Mom.
Next comes your fourth child: me! I'm hanging in there. Life is tough. I married a good guy. He's a good Dad, good provider, good person. We have four kids and two grandkids. Having so many kids was a big mistake. I really wished that College and the importance of going there and getting a good job had been stressed more when we were younger; well actually- stressed at all. I so wonder what life would have been like had I not "followed" my husband down his path of life, but if instead I had veered off and ventured on a path of my own making. And damn, why oh why didn't I like playing with sewing machines, reading books, and playing with a microscope as a child better than playing with baby dolls! Perhaps then, I would have done more in life than make real live baby dolls. So, that's me: stay-at-home Mom. I realize now that there are so many opportunities in life and you can be whoever you want to be, do whatever you want to do. I didn't do a whole lot, and for that I feel that I missed out terribly on a more fulfilling, independent and self respecting life. I'm ashamed to say that I have squandered this body, mind and life that I have been given, and when my time comes, I will go out in a cloud of dust, until any memory of me eventually fades away like an old Polaroid picture left out in the sun. My grandkids are named Madison and London. Yes, Madison and London! A lot of people name their kids after "places" now. Names like: Margaret, Marilyn, Francine, Bertha, Ida, Clyde, Vernon, Irv....those are really old fashioned names. Some people name their kids names like: Jet, Tiffany, Paris, Apollo, LaQueesha and Sydney, etc... I'll bet that sounds silly to you.
Anyway, our kids have given my husband and I a lot of gray hairs. I know with the five of us kids, we all had our moments of giving you and Dad strife, but a lot of today's kids show little or no respect, they are self-absorbed, they need and they feel they deserve the best of everything. They are generally not satisfied and not happy human beings. The Media of today has a lot to do with that, I'm almost sure. You would not believe it! We get about 100 TV channels (without a set of rabbit ears and all in color!) I'm not kidding Ma! Over 100 channels. They can even swear on the TV and radio now. They actually say cuss words on TV and a lot of the music even says the "F" word! Isn't that crazy? They even have pornographic channels!
Last comes your baby, Alan. Talk about drinking...whoa! I'm not blaming you or Dad, but they tell us now a days that alcoholism can very well be genetic. If you have alcoholic parents (and grand parents and great grandparents...like we did), then you are more genetically prone to being an alcoholic. Alan was married one time, and yes, alcohol pretty much was the cause for the end of that marriage. Eventually Alan looked forward to coming home after work, not to his family, so much as to a six-pack. Beer became his mistress. Al had one daughter. Again, please don't think I'm blaming you and Dad, but you know what a "scaredy cat" Alan always was? Anyway, after you died and the older kids moved away (me included), Alan was left alone at home a lot of the time. You know how you used to hide your beer in the cellar so that when Dad's friends came over on Sundays they wouldn't drink it all? Anyway, Dad didn't hide the beer and likewise, Dad didn't have the eyes in the back of his head like you and most all mothers have, so Alan and his friends had access to it. I also think that a lot of drinkers drink to excess, to forget their problems, so I think that when Alan drank at such a young age, aside from it being fun to drink with friends, it would knock him out and then he didn't have to face how lonely or afraid he was at home alone all of the time.
I know that Dad is probably with you right now and I'm sure he's filled you in on a lot of things just as I'm sure he has left out a lot of things that perhaps "as a man" he felt probably were not relevant. You know how he liked fishing, bowling, going down to the VFW, and placing bets at the track? He's probably spending his time fishing for "Angel Fish", and what we think is thunder and lightening down here are the pins of many a Heavenly Bowling League, being knocked over. I wouldn't doubt if he's still spending too much time at the VFW, only rather than "Veterans of Foreign Wars", his new VFW in Heaven stands for "Veterans of Foreign Worlds". And lastly he's probably up there Betting on who does he know that will walk through those Pearlly Gates next. I have to go for now Mum, as life is calling. But I'll write you again, I promise.
Yours Truly, your loving daughter Anita