The Long Island Princess — my mom
This is what I know
Last week was the anniversary of my Mom’s death.
A little bit about my mom.
She was crazy nuts gorgeous; like wowza beautiful. She could stop traffic & if you stole her parking space out from under her, she would get out of the car and literally stop traffic: “Find your own fucking space, this one has my name on it.”
She was talented. Crazy-ass talented; ceramics, knitting, painting, She would make herself happy & at home in the den, with her easel and paints and wool & knitting needles at the ready, and whip up a painting, or knit me a sweater, or dip her hands in wet clay and mold coffee cups. But you couldn’t get her to make a doily if her life depended on it. She hated doilies.
She was an emotional creature. I learned how to say fuck, fuck you, go fuck yourself in numerous languages, and in the spring & summer months, we would toss those fucks back & forth at each other like frisbees.
She loved my father fiercely. Fiercely. She didn’t wanna have kids, she didn’t want to be saddled down, she didn’t want to live in the suburbs with houses that were exactly the same, and drive a car with white walls. She loved bowling with the girls & golfing with the men & going on gambling junkets In Vegas and Puerto Rico & eating out every single Friday night, and often would lose me at the mall, only to find me at Bakers, trying on shoes made of faux leather.
She was difficult & cranky & impatient & had a wicked sense of humor and was wholly competitive and highly volatile and knew how to shimmy like the best of them, and loved being sexy and never left the house without make-up. On her beauty parlor days she would remind my father that sex was out of the fucking question: fresh hair, not fresh men was her motto.
And underneath all her bravado and arrogance was a girl who didn’t believe she was enough; never felt worthy; questioned her beauty. She wanted so much out of life & settled for what she believed she could have. She mistook arrogance for confidence, and screaming, hollering for power. She wanted everyone to love her at the expense of other relationships; she pinned folks against each other and often showed hints of sexism, and racism – sprinkled throughout sentences were words that made my, our, skin crawl. She would tell you that wasn’t the truth, that she loved all people. A lie.
She wanted so badly to be a Worldly Queen but settled for a Long Island Princess.
But she was my mom, and as the years go by and she’s no longer around, I realize we weren’t so much dysfunctional as we were honest with each other. She allowed me my emotional behavior, and I allowed her hers. When I had the guts to let her into my life, she offered me a shoulder, and would run her long tapered fingers through my hair telling me that the guy wasn’t worth the tears, or the ruining of my mascara; she stood proud when I married Ken, and reminded me that I needed to follow my heart and not just any fad, and more often than not she would tell me I was a beauty, inside & out.
She was tough & cruel and could be nasty & mean as all get out. She taught me that love was messy, but as long as you had a mop or a cleaning person, it would all be okay.
And she was mine.
I hope I’m doing her proud.