Tag Archive | Mother’s Day

Ma the Matchless


Oh, I had the mother of all mothers, had I. A truly brilliant, complex, and often exasperating woman of a mother. Glory in my novel PERSEPHONE IN HELL fared no differently. How did we get such compellingly different and difficult mothers?

Certainly it wasn’t of our choosing. What girl would pick a mother who never cleaned the house, who stayed in bed all day reading sci-fi and smoking? Who sat in the kitchen on a hot summer’s afternoon in her underwear reading the New York Times? Who could argue you into the ground on Vietnam, Richard Nixon, and most other subjects? That was my mother. The Ma who would be Cleopatra, floating down the Nile on her barge, purposely all alone, with no kids to drive her crazy. Here she is in her bedroom looking for something to read while Glory is humiliated at the thought of her messy home.

“Joyce wasn’t exactly what you’d call a good homemaker. She felt above it; that cleaning was perhaps meant for someone else but not her. She was comfortable in her mess and didn’t care what anyone else thought about it. She wasn’t bothered that her children were too ashamed of their home to bring friends to it. She’d say, “If they’re really your friends, they won’t care what your house looks like.”

Though technically I have to admit that you have a point, Ma, it’s mortifying to live in such filth. The pits. Really, hell on earth. I rarely bring a friend home. Not even Camille. Why don’t you notice?

Joyce stretched and spotted a neglected title. She dug it out of the pile. Ah, she discovered, “Le Morte d’ Arthur” – how did that get in here? She much preferred the future to the past. Joyce didn’t believe in chivalry, knights in shining armor, silly legends like King Arthur, or a holy grail. Hell, she thought, there’s absolutely nothing holy about this world.”

Ma the Matchless has been gone almost 25 years now. Just this past Mother’s Day, I realized how much I miss her. I miss arguing with her. I miss the woman that I as an adult was only beginning to know when she up and died. Teenage Glory doesn’t know it yet, but someday she’ll remember Ma with love. She will forgive her mother’s transgressions. She’ll take pride in having a mother who was anything but common.





It isn’t always a mother who does the mothering in a family. Sometimes it’s a father; often it’s an older sister who fills in for an absent or lacking parent. In this scene from PERSEPHONE IN HELL, Penny wakes from a terrible nightmare. She’s dreamed her little sister Kit is dead. She hears noises in the dark, and follows them into Kit’s room. Young Kit is crying, perched on the edge of her bed in her favorite green nightgown, herself having just awakened from an awful dream.

“In seeing Kit, it was as though a great weight lifted off Penny’s shoulders. She had never, ever been so happy to see her tiny sister. She held out her arms to Kit, who was miraculously unhurt and alive and safe. She gave her the hug of a lifetime.

Rubbing her eyes, still waking from her dream, Kit cried, “Penny, I’m all alone. No one cares about me. I could be dead and no one would even notice.”

Penny didn’t know why Kit felt this way or why she said the things she said. They were Kit’s feelings, and couldn’t be denied. But she knew that Kit was wrong. There was at least one person who cared that she was alive. She was not alone.

Penny stroked her small sister’s teary cheeks. She rocked her back and forth and softly hummed a favorite tune. “Greensleeves was my heart of gold, and who but my lady Greensleeves?” She sang the words over and over, calmly and sweetly, until Kit returned to the bliss of a young girl’s deep sleep.

Then Queen Penny the Good closed her eyes, and slept like a child until the morn.”

To mothers everywhere, real and imagined, young and old, perfect and not. I wish your families the wisdom to understand that you are trying your best, you are working so hard, you need their love even if you are flawed. Mothering is not easy. I want the world to understand.

Happy Mothers Day