There was a prompt on dverse called “Missing You” that, of course, I missed linking to. To which I missed linking. Linking missed did I. Whatever! Fortunately, Imaginary Garden With Real Toads is hosting Open Link Monday, so thanks, Kerry!
During Advent, I remember large and small kindnesses, and I think about those I’ve lost over the years. “And of all these friends and lovers, there is no one compares to you.” With a nod to John Lennon, here a a poem about the person I miss so much.
NOTE: All poems regarding my relationship with my father are about me and me alone. I make no claims, nor do I speak for my sisters.
The coffee shared at the cigbutt-scarred
kitchen table (my workspace now).
The stories, especially when you were
drunk as a skunk, rambling on about
our noteworthy obscure Irish lineage.
Our family totem: Gordon’s and an ashtray.
Grandma Blanche exacting revenge
on Bill, who cheated with her best friend.
Wish you had taken a picture of his face
when he walked in, realizing he was busted.
The nights you went off to sing, scent of
Tigress cologne, the black sequins and
paste jewelry from Blanche, I called them
“dime mints,” the teardrop earrings you wore.
The teardrops signified more: Breakfast
wearing sunglasses, Dad hit you the night before
after doing me in a fit of jealousy – Dad sure
you were fooling around at your gig, you dig?
Next morning, to church, choir director… first,
vodka bracer, no lie detector, I’d never tell
Your secrets were safe with me and my
secrets I didn’t know until after you both died.
Mama, you told me we were both descended
from sirens. I didn’t think you meant
ambulances, yet backward glances tell me
(in the hindsight that trumps your own truth),
you were a mess, and so loveable, and so
weak, and so in need, and so on. I know.
I’m the dark mirth of the Irish, the mother of
a savant, the keeper of memories, of the love.
© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
My mother was an enigmatic, persuasive lioness who occasionally retreated to helpless-kitten states through alcohol. She drank because she didn’t want to be “crazy” like her mother, Blanche, who was bipolar like me, but because of the times, was institutionalized and Frankenshocked through the 30s and 40s. Charlotte drank because she didn’t want to “notice” Dad sneaking up the hall after his little girls had gone to bed. And she drank to warm up her razor-sharp memory for “the telling of the stories,” our family history. Some people tell the same stories over and over… which start out like funny mice but, over the years, morph into elephants. Not Mama. I was her witness, and I know she would be glad I write about all the mess, the booze, the music, the tears, and the bellyaching laughter… and yes, even the abuse.
Hug your parents tight, if they are with you. My depression comes and goes, but hers was long, tortured, and I thank God that now, she is at peace. Miss you, Mama. Love, Amer
Photo taken by my Grandpa Bill in August 1959, during a visit to Mom’s home town, Council Bluffs, Iowa. Copyright is with me.