Sunday, November 20, 2011


It's been a fine day and one in which I realized I have no idea how to shop for a washing machine. I do not need a machine which has a "casual" setting. Is that the setting you use to NOT wash an evening dress, a tuxedo?
I kept trying to explain to the salesman who was so obviously desperate to make a sale that I do not want all of those crazy features. He insisted that he could teach me how to use the machine. Really, it is simple! English is not his first language and he just could not get it into his head that I am not afraid I won't be able to figure it out- I just don't want or need them.
Bless his heart.

I got elected to the Stage Company board. Sweet. It was so good to see my buds. Pat and Jan and Jack and Kathleen and Denise and Judy and two newish guys who have been acting at the Opera House lately but whom I have not had the pleasure of working with. Yet.

There is one darkness here on this day. Again, my brother wrote me and corrected something I'd written in my blog. He pointed out that our mother did indeed do community service and yes, oh yes she did. She worked with Hospice for over twenty-five years. She did. And so again, I feel I must set the record straight. In my defense, she did not do this when I was living at home.

He asked me what my trip/agenda was in portraying our mother as being so depressed.
He does not remember her that way.
I wrote him back, told him that I wished he would comment here, on the blog, so that people could get a more balanced view of the situation. Or better yet- that he should start his own blog and write his own truth.

I mean it.

And I am filled with words right now, none of which I shall write. Because I know how hurtful it is to be told that your perceptions, your memories are incorrect.
That you are, in fact, a liar. And my brother is not a liar. He simply had a different mother than I did, or at least, he remembers her differently.

I am filled with words I will not write, I am filled with jagged bits of nightmare remnants and I am also filled with gratefulness of the fullness and complete richness of my life.

And I am going to go make some damn good soup and some foccacia with tomatoes and mozzarella and tomorrow I will buy a turkey and Owen will be here and yes, I have anger but not at my brother. No. Not really. As I write, I realize that sometimes anger is just sadness. Just pure old sadness at the story which never really ends.

But which does not have to end me.
No. It does not.
Nor will it.


  1. My brother's mother and my sister's mother were two very different people from the mother I knew and experienced. We just did not experience the same aspects of her is all.

  2. It is a huge, fierce, simple truth that different siblings have completely different parents. I know this is true in my case. There is just no arguing it, no point in arguing it at all. We are all entitled to the truth of our own experience.

    If it means anything to your brother, your writing about your mother never makes me judge her as a person - only your experience, your own difficulty is what counts. I know what it is to be a depressed mother, to not be the mother you imagined you would be no matter how much you might want to.

  3. Wow. Sorry, for then and now. Rubye's right.

    My mom was a pillar of the community AND wept behind closed doors a lot when I was growing up. Look. There were three of us kids, and so there are three or five different versions of what happened on any given day. Who was it that said there are three truths - your truth, my truth and the truth? My family is split into two camps - those who saw the show and those who didn't. The didnt's think the dids are mean and unfair, the dids think the didn'ts are oblivious. My mom played different roles for different family members, showing some more truth than others. Some of our family didn't want to see her depressed side, and some men and teens just plain didn't notice. What I know for sure is that quibbling over who's right rather than trying to unravel the mystery is painful and worthless.

    I agree that if your brother wants to be part of the discussion, and tell his truth, he should come out from behind the email - quit lurking, or quit reading. Especially if your words upset him and his upset you.

    But I guess you already said those things.

    Hope you find the way to let the angry/sad go.


  4. Well, you know what I think...

    The thing that is really unfortunate is that it feels as though you are having a similar situation (in a different kind of way) as Maggie. Where you now have a reader which you feel you have to edit yourself for and you can't just spill.

    I mean, he doesn't have to agree with you, but just realize (as you do with him) that your experience was different, and this is your place to write about what YOU experienced. Maybe the reason he did not experience it the same is because of you protecting all of the your brothers and shouldering a lot of responsibility. They didn't need your mom in the same way you did because they had YOU to take care of them... but who did you have?

    I know I'm expecting him to be able to be reasonable in a situation where he obviously can't, but we ALL experience things differently. And as Glen said "something went down in that house."

    I love you and your courage and your compassion.

  5. Rubye Jack- Exactly.

    Jo- Those words you wrote? They comforted me greatly. Thank you.

    Mel- You understand. Dang.

    Ms. Fleur- I can't say any more than thanks. So very, very much. You did some healing on my heart tonight.

  6. I am with all the commenters on this one. And self censorship is the worst kind of censorship, so hopefully you will still feel like you can vent your truth. And no feeling is wrong. Sometimes we don't always perfectly remember events exactly the way they occurred, but we definitely remember how those events and happenings made us feel.

  7. Nicol- It is sickening, in a way. And yet, I know we all do it for so many reasons and they are good reasons. And I have no doubt that what I remember is the truth of events as I saw them. Now- as to the dreams I have which seem to suggest that there was even more there that I do NOT remember- well, I will not trust them. They are dreams.

  8. Families are crazy
    You are good
    I wish I had your warm soup right now

    That's a Haiku - the best I can do right now

  9. What does it matter whether your brother remembers her one way and you another? I am sure that you both are right. It's best not to poke a sharp stick in another's eye and words can do that. I think that maybe I am lucky to only have my own memories and not that of a sibling who wants to set me straight. And memories are tricky things anyway.

  10. Ha - I almost emailed you after that email you posted about your mother, and asked what kind of reaction you got from your brother. I guess this is my answer!

  11. My cousin Greg is the only person in my family who defends and protects my father the paedophile, even though he wouldn't let my father near his own children. He wrote to me after my father's death and said the latter was a tormented and lonely man who felt misunderstood. I bet he did.

    Telling one's own truth in families is so fraught, especially when it comes to revealing vulnerabilities or unwelcome truths. When I was younger, telling a family secret was like breaking a taboo.

    But the truth needs to come out -- and I don't think it is just your version of your mother, I think it is the more truthful and compassionate perspective, the fuller version of who she was behind closed doors rather than putting on a public face.

  12. All I can say is that I bet that was some DAMN fine soup. I found myself pretty ticked off myself this weekend and I made a french onion soup. Every swoosh across the slicing mandoline was a statement....the onions were acrid in my nose. They forced my eyes to make a tear that it dared not make. I went from recipe to recipe until I angrily decided "Fuck recipes."

    I did what I wanted to that soup. I put in stuff that I cannot even recall.

    And then it simmered and I sat down exhausted.

    Best. Soup. Ever.

  13. This is such a hard issue -- one that many, many people grapple with, particularly those that write memoir. I think, though, that our responsibility is to write our own truth, our own memory and be prepared to not "defend" it so much as to support it -- declare it, stand by it, be steadfast. You are doing that. Keep doing that despite the difficulty.

  14. Hello Ms. Moon
    Amen to all the above comments.
    Can't wait to hear what my 3 have to say about me.
    And thank you for your post.
    Karen C.

  15. liv- And that was beautiful. Thank you.

    Syd- I agree perfectly.

    SJ- Again- you know me too well!

    Mary LA- She was so unhappy in my memory. Families. And as your story about your cousin demonstrates- deeds speak much louder than words.

    Omgrrrl- I bet it was. Oh, how I bet it was.

    Elizabeth- That's it exactly. Not to defend but to stand by.

    Karen C- My greatest fear is that my children will look back on me and remember horrible things. Not the same sort of horrible things but...
    None of us are perfect as parents or as people.

  16. My brother is the same way. The youngest, the only boy, the sun rose and set on him. In fact my sister and I referred to him as The Golden Boy. When I write about my parents, our mother in particular, he is mystified, says we must have grown up in different houses. But our parents had a very different relationship with us girls than they did with him, the bearer of the family name. I write my truth. It is not his truth. I tell him the same, start your own blog, write your own memories.

    If I were you, I'd be telling my brother to stop correcting me or stop reading my blog.

  17. It is impressive that you told him to write his own blog. Your truth is why I stop by. And your truth is what matters to you.

    Is it important to him that you confirm his memory? Why? Is he afraid his memory is wrong? Why conformity? Does he think you do your mother some injustice by writing your recollections of her?

    People are complicated. The internet is big enough for both versions of reality.


  18. Ellen Abbott- My brother is a big believer in "telling his truth and not caring who he offends."
    I pointed out to him that this can work both ways and what he allows himself must be allowed others. I think he got it. A little, at least.

    Jaye- It seems to be incredibly important to him for me to confirm his memory while I, frankly, don't care if he confirms mine or not. I know that we flat-out have different memories. And yes, I do think he believes I do our mother some injustice in writing about her.
    People ARE complicated. You are so right.


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