Thursday, June 9, 2011

Moma - 10thDoM Mother Dearest

This blog is not fiction. It is not even creative non-fiction. It is non-fiction with the occasional humorous sidenote.

It's a running joke. The "Desiree" coming out. I'm gonna have to go "Desiree" on your ass is a common saying in my family... I'm the only one who has ever come close, and I was completely sober. That fact is an unnervingly terrifying thought.

My favorite stories to tell of my mom are not the positive ones. She was beautiful. Raquel Welch, many compared her to. She had the kind of nose that people have surgery to get, a smile that could brighten any room, hair to make Farrah Fawcett jealous, and a drug habit that would make Anna Nicole Smith a Narc-Anon success. She was your best friend the moment you met her. You could never forget her, and you liked her even though she was a bipolar sociopath who, at some point in your friendship with her, probably lied to your face, stole something you loved, and threatened to kill you or have you killed.

In the end, she went out with a whimper. It wasn't a death befitting the life but deserved by the life. Was the Xanax, the Valium, the OxyContin, the Somas, the Lortabs or Lorcets, Percocets, or something else? Who knows? Who cares? In the end, she simply OD'd at a friend's house. She was there under the guise of helping to take care of a diabetic friend who'd had her food amputated. Instead of helping, she stole the friend's meds and died on her guest bed. The friend didn't even show for the funeral.

When a recently jail-released friend died on my moma's guest bed for doing nearly the exact same thing, at least she showed her face at the funeral. As a side note, this is a perfect example of "some people never learn." I mean, really, if someone OD's on your guest bed after stealing your meds, would you steal someone else's meds and lay on their guest bed?

By the time I was 12, I could tell you the street value far too many prescription narcotics, and I could tell you all moma's friends' favorites... By the time the pill craze began in small town, USA, my mom had already been addicted to and rehabbed from cocaine, both snorting and selling. In fact, my uncle, two great-aunts, and one great uncle had all gone to jail for being one of the largest drug dealing operations in our little region of the world. Yes, I take a little pride in that. All moma's "friends" were really clients, and I learned quickly after getting my driver's license to "just say no" when she or my step-dad wanted me to drive them somewhere.

I have vivid memories of nothing in the fridge except cheap deli meat, beer, and icee popsicles. We'd have to wait around til usually sometime after two o'clock, when moma and my step-dad awoke from their alcohol and cocaine induced freight train symphony of sleep to get fed. I should mention now that I have and always have had an incredible internal clock that awakens me sometime in the vicinity of 6:30 am every day. Even on days when I don't get to sleep til 5 am. But that's another blog.

I also have vivid memories of moma standing up in a Soma-jerked stupor and doing a faceplant right in front of one of my very straight-laced boyfriends. He was frightened. I laughed and told her to get up. Once, I really needed her to wake up and pinched her arm repeatedly and quite roughly. The next day, there was a huge bruise that covered nearly her entire forearm, and she couldn't figure out where she'd gotten it. I didn't tell her til a few years later.

I remember the Friday afternoons of her custodial weekends when she'd call and tell me she was on her way. I'd rush excitedly to pack my bag and sit on the porch swing to wait for her to drive the one and a half miles (or less) from her house to my dad's to pick me up. She showed less than half the time.

I'll never forget my 15th birthday. It was on this glorious occasion that she begged me all day to come and spend time with her, and when I finally got there, she was drunk. Anger ensued, and by the end of the night, I was pinned to the floor and she was choking me all while informing me that she brought me into this world, and she would take me out. It is the only time I ever called my dad to come and get me from her house. After all that, her favorite thing to tell me was that she was a "good moma."

Happy memories with her are hard to find, no matter how deep I delve into my psyche. My memory is excellent when there is emotion attached. Once, when I was, I believe, eleven, my mom was very poor, having just gotten out of rehab and no longer selling drugs but also without a "real" job, had a completely sober Christmas. All she got me was a Caboodle, a cheap Barbie, and a tiny gold "nugget" ring. It was, by and large, the best Christmas of my life.

That's probably my favorite story about my mom even though it lacks the unbelievable sensationalism of the others.

I won't bore you with the multitude of times that my ex-Uncle Car-El got drunk enough to think it would be a good idea to give Moma tequila. I will bore you with the fact that every time he did, I would get a phone call asking me to help calm her. I'm not the one stupid enough to give her tequila. You deserve the holes in your wall, the bruises on your face, the dents in your cars, the neighbors calling the cops, and the terroristic threats. Hello. Do. Not. Give. Desiree. Tequila. It should have only taken ONE time to learn that lesson.

The one time I pulled a true "Desiree" I was stone-cold sober. There's too much backstory, but the short version is this... My aunt laments all the time about how great "my sister" was and how her life ended when "my sister" died and how "my sister" took care of me. On one such occasion, when my cousin was having a very difficult time in life, my aunt started going on and on and on about how her life had ended when my mom died - right in front of her own daughter. Then, she started lamenting about how my cousin's (soon-to-be-ex) husband would never hurt her or their son despite the fact that we were over at my aunt's because my cousin had left after a violent outburst. It was too much. I was in her face and felt myself desirous of violence toward her. It was amazing. I still cannot believe it happened, but the combination of those two things is some sort of trigger in me and I nearly did it again on another similar occasion a few weeks later. It was amazing and scary and reassuring all at the same time. I'm glad I have some of my mom in me because I know now, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I can become fierce if needed. That is good knowledge to have.

My mom was terribly fun to be around when she was sober, and she'd give you the shirt off her back, or, at least, she would steal you one off someone else's and pass it off as her own.

She was the one person I could call who would be on my side no matter what even when I was wrong. I miss that. I wish that I could be that; I wish that I could have her charisma. But alas, my brain is too far in tact from lack of abusing drugs and alcohol my whole life, and I still remember, in awe, the admirable traits of my mom.

I miss her dearly even though my life became more breathable when she passed. It's been more than seven years. She was just forty-six when she died, followed by my step-dad a couple months later. I predicted he'd last three months without her. He lasted four. And then, because my family will never learn, my uncle OD'd as well just a couple of years later.

I love my mom. I miss my mom. She was a terrible mom but a hell of an interesting to know and have as a part of me.


  1. Oh, my God, Jelly. This is just heartbreaking. I am so sorry that your childhood was like that. No child should have to try to survive that. Yet you have survived. I'm hoping that you have taken strength from your experience.

  2. Sad, well-written... but I've seen you pull "a true Desiree" before. Don't shrift us with a "short version." Summarized, sure, but the rampant "word that probably doesn't need to be quoted" makes it seemed too RD-condensed. I was (for lack of better term) enjoying this, partially for its detail, and then you back off.

    And I completely disagree with your logic concerning the guest-bed incidents.

    Good stuff, though, and I know it was hard to write.

  3. @Patti - I'm nothing like my mom. I do wish I had a couple of her admirable traits for my own kids, but I am much more like my dad.

    @Jeff - Yes, you've seen me pull a Desiree, but, I assure you, not like that. It surprised even me.

    Sorry for the lack of detail. I... Well, there are so many different directions that, frankly, I became overwhelmed and had to stop. Maybe I'll add a part two in the next 2 hours...

  4. these life stories are terribly interesting...far from my experience, thank God...
    got a couple missing words here and there.

  5. Jelly I don't know how you did it. I found it really hard to write about my mum but strangely cathartic. Beautifully written and I liked the pace of it frankly, captured her changeability. You're a survivor alright, that was a heap to deal with. Definitely a memoir in there.

  6. When I write or talk about her, it's almost as if I'm writing about a fictional character. Really, she was so outrageous that's nearly how she was, and I'm sure that it's part of some protective mechanism. Again, I love and miss her often, but I'm also glad she's gone. You couldn't get the good without the bad and the bad far outweighed the good.

    As for a memoir, I would never know where to begin, and no one would ever believe it all anyhow!

  7. I believe we all touch these sides of ourselves, Some of us choose to stay there and it effects the ones around us in ways that are unimaginable. It is strange that the memories we keep with us are usually the ones with the strongest memories. The life and death memories usually fall into that spot. I know the feeling of skipping over details when writing this way, it's stuff that you have lived with so long that you can not imagine others not being able to fill in the knowing. It is though good stuff to work with, since I also believe that anyone who wants to do important work, first must work through their bio. -Sorry I can go on.
    -Memoirs are good for getting it down and out and moving on.

  8. what a hard way to grow up...these are tough stories to pull out and i understand how determining what to put in or leave out is not an easy task...

  9. I find since my mom has also died that I can find and recall the good points of her. Like yours, my mom was a hell of an interesting person and people loved her like crazy. Mothering wasn't her strong point and I have paid for it, but I miss her all the time.