Throw me Thursday: Ma Bell

It’s Ma’s 75th birthday. She wins.

It’s snowing today, only soft wisps flick down past my window as if I’m in a holiday made-for-TV movie, something on Lifetime maybe, about daughters and mothers. In this mixed-generational feel-good drama I play the disaffected daughter struggling with her own maternal identity after being raised in a household nearly devoid of emotional rhetoric. The mother is aging, often forgetting events and facts that have, until now, been a foundation for their relationship, however tenuous.

I had a teacher, or was it Stephen King, who said that behind every great writer is a great mother. My writing was the thing that brought me to my mother in a different way. I’d never impressed her before I impressed her with words. It became me after that–the writing, the words, the electric typewriter for Christmas, the tap-tapping at all hours of the night. I want to be a writer, Ma. I want to be a writer.

Age is getting her now. It’s erasing us and what we know.

“Wasn’t it you who used to like to write?” she asked as we walked down the mall last summer. My arms and hands were full of little girls bent on movement and escape. A bright yellow messenger bag proclaiming “Mother Writer” swung at my hip.

“I don’t get it,” I complain to Sherry on the phone. “I mean, I know she’s difficult, but she’s still our mom. I mean, come on, is that how they expect their kids to treat them? Have some respect.” A lot of my siblings ignore Ma. Or don’t find her convenient. She spends a lot of time in her apartment watching Judge Judy. Or maybe it’s just the time of day I call.

“Are you in the bathroom?” I ask joking about all the phones spread to every room in the place. I’m sure it makes it easier since her legs have started betraying her bit by bit, but really, she just ended up with extra phones and we wouldn’t want to put them to waste now, would we?

For Christmas I got an Angry Writer shirt, “Never wrong a writer. They get their revenge in print.” I was so thrilled I put it on and kept it on. Later I showed it off to Sherry and Ma. When I walked out of the room Ma said, “I never knew Victoria liked to write.”

So this is how the script is written.

The daughter sees the finite nature of time. She sees her mother within herself through action and consequence as she realizes all her decisions are based on personal history.

Ma is Ma is Ma.

She’s done her job. Let the lady rest.


About E. Victoria Flynn

E. Victoria Flynn is a mother and a writer living in Southern Wisconsin. Published in a variety of venues, Victoria is currently writing the first in a series of three fantasy novels based on Cornish folklore. When not taking part in a shrieking dance party or engrossed in her own little fictions, Victoria is keen on art, the natural world and people unafraid to explore their own brilliance.
This entry was posted in big family, it's my family anyway, ma, mother, relationships, Throw me Thursday and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Throw me Thursday: Ma Bell

  1. Chelsea says:

    If Ma Bell had been thrown to me, it would have been a post all about eating hamburger for 18 months the year my mom was on strike. I’ve been trying to write that essay for awhile. Thank you for the inadvertent reminder.

  2. Tiffany says:

    My mom still thinks I like lima beans and that my favorite color is yellow. I think we stay teenagers to them or something.

  3. Victoria,

    “She sees her mother within herself through action and consequence as she realizes all her decisions are based on personal history.”

    You know exactly what to say. I love this entire essay.

    xoxo Christi

  4. Ma Bell is a tough topic for me. Your writing brought so much up for me. My mother isn’t that old, yet she still holds on to her fantasies about who I am and what or relationship is. Truly fantasies. I still find them disturbing. You continue to inspire me. Thank you.

    • pennyjars says:

      Thank you, Robin. There are so many levels to the mother/daughter relationship. I feel it always bears examining. I’m often surprised at things that come up years later. I’m looking forward to reading the work you sent me. 🙂

  5. kario says:

    This is beautiful. The mother stories get me every time.

  6. I so loved the last line! (I think it could be said about me most days.) 😉

  7. pennyjars says:

    Thanks, Amanda. That is definitely how I feel most every night. 🙂

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