Mama said there’d be days like this…

This is my mom, Marie. She moved to the United States in 1976, to marry my Dad, Ed Jemison.  They met in Germany in 1974 while my dad was stationed there with the Air Force.  She is not German, she is Irish.  Both of her parents died when she was very young.  When she was in her early twenties, she went to secretarial school and began traveling and working all over Europe.  She was working there, as a secretary, in Wiesbaden, I think, when she met my dad.  I attempted to read her diaries from this period but they are all written in shorthand.  She said no to my Dad the first three times he proposed.  He was too young (four years younger), and worse, a Baptist.  But somehow, he won her heart.  And more incredibly, convinced her to move to Mississippi.  For his part, he agreed to convert to Catholicism.  My brother and I were born there, in the appropriately named Starkville, Mississippi, while my parents were living in the married student housing dorms of Mississippi State.  Dad was getting his masters in Poultry Science.  Yes, really.  After that we moved to the sweet sweet land of mass produced chicken, Arkansas,  and my three other siblings were born. We all went to Catholic school and played outside in the woods all day. If we were kept inside because of days of rain, we would be terrible.  I remember that she would never yell when she got angry, but sometimes she would cry, which always made us immediately penitent.  She was just so gentle, and patient, you never wanted to hurt her. Ever ever. And she wasn’t quick to not believe you when you said you were too sick to go to school.  She always gave you the benefit of the doubt, even when you didn’t deserve it. I think I broke her heart when I moved in with my boyfriend my senior year of college, but she accepted it. There are so many thing things that I wish I had said to her then. And since. Questions I wish that I asked.  A poem I wrote her in college that I never gave her because I was embarrassed. Times that I yelled at her that I wish I could take back.  It goes on like that if I let it.

My mom isn’t dead.  She’s still the sweetest, kindest lady you’d ever meet.  She’s still happily married to my Dad and she still loves to ride on the back of his motorcycle.  But she doesn’t remember who I am anymore.  And what bothers me more, she doesn’t remember who she was either.  So I just wanted to write down a few things about her, so that I would.

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8 Comments

Filed under Inspiration

8 responses to “Mama said there’d be days like this…

  1. Drew Prochaska

    I’m so sorry, Jenny. I can’t even imagine how hard this is for you. Sending you lots and lots of love from across the pond.

  2. Mike Wilson

    How did I not know this? I absolutely insist we hang out more when we can actually talk.

  3. would you share that letter, or is that too much? you never gave it to her, but maybe you’d give it to us?

    i love you. she loves you. you are loved.

  4. actresstx

    Its a poem I wrote freshman year. After my parents and younger siblings had just moved to a mountain near Chattanooga. There is a road cut into the side of the mountain, very steep, with very sharp turns. It was written when my mom was still well, the mom I used to know. Please forgive its Poetry 101 nature, I’ve never shown it to anyone.

    Safety
    From the airport it is quite a drive
    up the treacherous slant of the “W Road.”
    Cut by slaves into rock with muscle once alive,
    This Tennessee mountain bears a historical load.

    The cars on the mountain take turns on the climb,
    the crooks of the letter being hard to navigate
    with minivans trying to pass at the same time.
    My mother says the neighbors have of late

    become more impatient, and the flip of a car
    over the side happens at least once a week.
    Of course, they don’t fall far
    but force everyone else to seek

    the other way up the height
    which is no small detour. My
    mother takes her turn. With a slight
    lurch, the car gets its try

    to make the angled bend.
    In a slow moment I see I have traveled
    all this way just to send
    my mother to the grave as the graveled

    road slips under spinning tires and we’re sent
    backward to the edge.
    But then the catch and the ascent–
    My mother knows well this ledge

    and nothing will rock or
    derail the agenda that drives her–
    my sister’s needing new shin guards for soccer
    or what the boys will want for dinner.

  5. My mother doesn’t remember anything of her life either, not at this point. Very very hard. Beautiful words.

  6. Chris R

    I cried when I got to the part where you didn’t give her the poem because you were too embarrassed.

    My father and I didn’t get along well. Our relationship was abusive. I resented him. One day my middle brother and I were fighting. Screaming and cursing. I was 17. My father was bedridden from an operation on his herniated disc and was growing depressed. He cried out for us to stop fighting. He burst into tears and sobbed. I’d never seen him cry before. I was shocked, ashamed and angry. Angry because I was so uncomfortable and wanted it to stop. Despite my resentment toward him I couldn’t stand to see him so weak and fragile. I walked over to his bed and knelled. I put my head on his chest and my arms around him. He rubbed his hand through my hair. We never talked about this moment and I’ve never shared it with anyone who knew him. A few months later he was diagnosed with cancer and died two days later.

    It hurts to know that you’re so far away and I can’t hug you or hold your hand through this.

  7. Oat

    Jenny,
    Lately when I have seen Mom, she has known me. One day we were standing by the fridge, and she pointed at all the pictures of people and asked me if I knew who they were. I said that I did, but asked if she did. She said, “Of course,” and started naming some people, some of them correctly, others not.
    I pointed at a picture of Dad holding me when I was a toddler. I asked her if she knew who the baby was. She looked at me and smiled, put her hand on my back, and said, “I always knew you would do something great one day.”
    Don’t give up hope. I think that maybe some days, Mom will know you too. Love you!

  8. actresstx

    That is amazing. One day during the week I was there over Christmas she remembered me suddenly. I’d been playing Shirelles songs on youtube and she remembered all the words and was singing along. I had an old photo album out and there was a picture of me at maybe 10 years old in the back of a pickup truck during some sort of parade. She said, “You always had those big long legs Jennygirl.” Something about the older pictures…

    I miss her so much.

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