Positive Negative, painting by Jesse Rinyu
In an effort to understand her mother, Melissa peels back layers of her own heart
In the summer of 1963, my mother left my father. I was just six and my brother turned three a few short weeks later. Thirty-six years, several boyfriends and one more divorce later, my mother admitted to me that the love of her life had been my father.
My mother’s admission about the love of her life was stunning and surprising. I asked her why; given that my father was the love of her life she left him? She replied, “He was young and stupid and always had something to prove.” I wondered what 20-something (man or woman) is not young and stupid with things to prove?
A year after this conversation my mother died. I discovered then the only things in her safe deposit box were the letters my father had written to her asking, and then pleading with her to come back. I cried then for my mother, not for her death but for the fact of her pride — the pride, which kept her from the love of her life for most of her life, which by all measures was not a particularly happy one. Read more
The more things change, the more things stay the same. My mother could muster an old saw for every occasion and this was one of her favourites. I have probably inherited a little of this annoying trait. Change has been in the air and in everyone’s mind a lot lately and this phrase (and my mother’s voice) has been running through my mind constantly.
Do things really appear to change and then end up staying the same? Well, if one is intent upon only creating the appearance of change, then my mother’s comment will have a certain truth to it. I waited years for my late husband to change (being late was one of the things I waited for him to change). Then I woke up one day and realized it was me who had to change. So I did. I changed my attitude, the locks on the doors and my marital state. Things were not the same afterwards.
Women go through “the change.” Men do too, but we haven’t been able to make them feel comfortable enough to openly discuss it yet. Read more
The summer I turned six my mother packed my younger brother and me into the car for a road trip. Just before we left I remember sitting in the backseat of the Karmann Ghia at 732 Jefferson (I’d learned our address in kindergarten.) From my vantage point I could only see my father from the waist down. From the front seat my mother would say something to my father. Then he’d walk back into the house and return with some item, which he handed through the window. As I remember, this went on several times with me watching his long legs go to and from the house. On the last trip he returned and handed the iron to my mother. And then we left. My father is a six foot five, so even as we drove down the street I could not see his face just his legs. Read more
“On Men.” Quite a title, yes? I’ve spent way too much psychic energy “on men”, literally and figuratively. The darlings.
My father and mother divorced when I was six, my sister was four. When he left us, he promised he was just leaving mom, not us. He lied. He was so handsome, funny and charming; a musician, and we loved him wildly. I learned from him, that part of love was expecting a broken heart. He disappointed me one time too many and I didn’t speak to him for 15 years. Read more