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.