behavior, daughters, family, life lessons, mothers, relationships, values

Mothers

My childhood memories of my mother consist of her constant worrying about whether we’re safe, warm, and not hungry. I remember those annoying mitten holders I was forced to wear on the sleeves of my winter coat to make sure I always had my gloves. Or those annoying snow pants I had to fight my way into. When my brother came home from school with his eye practically hanging out the socket from getting beat up by bullies, I remember the way she jumped into her car, tires screeching to confront them. I also remember thinking my mother was going to prison, but it worked out fine. ; ) She put her own health on the line, working constructions jobs to keep food on the table. All these things she did for us. She’s the type of mother I want to be one day.

What I don’t understand is how someone could just throw their flesh and blood away without a passing glance. For nearly a year, my mother has been raising her niece’s, my cousin’s baby. The whole saga started last January when she received a call that my cousin was giving birth at the hospital. It came as a surprise to us since we’d just talked to the girl, who’s in her early twenties back in October and she hadn’t mentioned anything about even being pregnant. Since the girl’s mother, my mom’s sister had just moved out of state, my mother went to see about her and the baby.

Mom immediately fell in love with the 3 pound preemie and promised to do everything she could for her. Since my cousin was close to getting evicted from her place and the government was in her business because the child was born with drugs in her system, my mother came to the decision to take care of the baby until she could get herself together. I was skeptical at first, fearing that Mom was taking on too much, like she tends to do. With my mother, myself, and my two sisters sharing an apartment, it was a group effort but we all did our part to take care of the baby from the time she left the hospital.

Knowing the mother could barely take care of herself, Mom paid for everything the baby needed out of her pocket, from clothes, to diapers and furniture. Mom provided while all the girl and her family could offer were thank you’s. Mom isn’t the type to worry about getting paid back for her efforts, she does it because it’s the right thing to do and God will see to her having what she needs. The sleepless nights and 3 am feedings belonged to my mother, who’s staring down the throat of 60, works 40 hours a week and goes to dialysis 3 times a week.

In the meantime, she coached my cousin on getting support for the baby, including WIC for the formula, and making sure the baby got part of the father’s income from the government. My cousin came to get the baby late in the spring and 3 months later we got a call from her saying that she needed us to take the baby again.

The relationship with the baby’s father was taking an abusive turn and she was moving out of town to be with my aunt. The baby was returned to us in deplorable conditions. Her eczema was out of control, diaper rash had run rampant, and the clothes my mother sent when she gave her back the first time were filthy with most of them having to be thrown away. Once my mother got her home the poor thing guzzled three bottles of milk until we could go get more formula.  The vouchers for the food and milk that the government gave for free had not been used and the lump sum of money my cousin received for her child, definitely wasn’t spent on her.

 

My cousin left with promises of sending a portion of the baby’s money every month for expenses, but that’s one promise that hasn’t been fulfilled. Since she skipped town we’ve only seen $100 of the promised money and we haven’t heard from her in nearly two months. When she does call it becomes an ‘I’m a bad mother’ docudrama worthy of Lifetime TV where she wants to rope you into feeling sorry for her. The focus turns to her, not to the baby she left. I see that the longer she’s away from her child the more disassociated she becomes, the bond between mother and child broken.

The baby is doing just fine and approaching her first birthday. She’s smart, loves to talk, and is happy as she can be. But kids grow up and one day she’s going to have questions. How will her mother explain why she abandoned her and took off with the money that was intended for her care? How will she tell her daughter she didn’t do all she could to make sure she was taken care of? Isn’t that what mothers are supposed to do?

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cia, Fiction, mothers, short story, spies

Angel

Her heart thumped a lively beat as she walked casually through the gaudily decorated hotel lobby. Italy was beautiful this time of year but her mission hadn’t allowed any time for sightseeing, she had to hurry to catch her plane home.
American CIA interpreter, Charles Albanese, lay on the floor in his hotel room with a bullet lodged in his forehead. The stunningly beautiful woman he had brought back to his hotel room had a lethal smile that could disarm any man as he had soon learned for himself.
Charles always preferred to face the door when frequenting the club, this vantage point allowed for him to view every woman that entered making it easy for him to assess their romantic situation quickly. He always searched for the one woman who inevitably ended up alone at the table while her friends hit the dance floor. Not his favorite type but an easy target for a night of his brand of fun.
She however was different, the long blond haired beauty waltzed into the club and sat alone at the far end of the bar occasionally passing him glances of interest. Charles watched as she adjusted the hem of her short black dress that showed off her delightfully long legs. Her shiny black stilettos were the icing on the cake. He imagined kneeling at her feet licking those heels satisfying his particular fetish. He sent over a drink and made his move.
“Call me Charlie.” He told her as he leaned in to her body daring to touch her knee.
She touched her hand to his moving it up her thigh. “Thanks for the drink, how long are you in Rome?”
Sensing a fish on a hook he answered. “Long enough to please you.”
He playfully buried his nose in her neck inhaling the intoxicating aroma of her high end perfume.
“I leave tomorrow. Care to help me make one last memory of my trip?” Her words dripped with southern honey.
His hotel was only a few blocks away he told her and he described to her the type of fun he was looking for. To his delight she was game telling him she was a lonely housewife and this trip to Italy was her chance to let loose while her husband made boring financial deals. Her husband she said suggested to her to explore the city while he wined and dined clients. He didn’t have to tell her twice she whispered into Charles’s ear as she discretely palmed his groin.
His passion ignited, he eagerly escorted her to his hotel room. Once she knew they were securely inside and alone she wasted no time pushing him to the floor onto his knees. Charles smiled lecherously, delighted the southern beauty who called herself by the unlikely moniker of Bobby Jo, had agreed to be his dominatrix for the night.
“Strip.” She demanded.
“Yes mistress.” He complied as she took a pair of handcuffs from her purse letting them dangle from her finger in front of him. “Hands behind your back.” Another demand met by her willing submissive.
She blindfolded him leaving his world dark.
“You’ve been very naughty haven’t you?”
“Yes mistress.” He bent over to lick her shoes. She kicked his head back and leaned over him.
“I didn’t ask for you to do that! Sit back and wait Charlie, we have a few business details to discuss before pleasure.”
He dropped his shoulders in disappointment. He berated himself for not having seen this coming she was after all, too good to be true. “Alright how much?”
“Tsk, tsk, tsk. Charlie let’s not be so hasty I don’t want money what I want is far more important, now give me the disk”
“Wh…what?”
She slipped the belt off his discarded pants and snapped it near his ear. “Don’t insult me by playing stupid. You knew stealing it would be foolish. The information on it is too valuable not to be tracked. Did you really think you could broker a deal?”
His body jerked with uncontrollable shakes struggling to lift himself off his knees. “Who are you?”
She flayed the belt squarely across the chest. “Stay down if you know what’s good for you.” She pushed him back down with her heel. “To answer your question, in some circles I’m known as Angel and if you’re lucky and give me what I want then maybe I will be merciful towards you. I’m only going give you one more chance to chose my mercy, where is the disk?”
Charlie sobbed. His scheme to sell new smart bomb technology to the highest bidder was unraveling faster than a snagged sweater and now he knew there was a slim chance he was getting out of this alive. His only choice now was to hope she would be true to her word if he gave it up.
“It’s in my suitcase.” He whispered.
She took off his blindfold. “Where in the suitcase?”
She was cautious remembering her lessons in training to be aware of traps.
“Zipper right side pocket.” He answered gazing into the angel of death’s eyes. “Please don’t kill me I’ll give you anything you want, I’ll disappear I swear!”
“I hate it when they beg.” She mumbled to herself. “Charlie the time to think about that darling would have been before you betrayed your country. These plans get into the wrong hands millions of innocent people could be killed around the world.”
“But they’re not nuclear just localized smart bombs for precision strikes. Governments will get a hold this stuff sooner or later” He tried to argue. “I just needed the money to pay off some debts.”
She shook her head. “You are just too stupid to live ain’t you darlin’! You either think I’m that dumb or you really have no idea what it is you stole.”  She pulled her revolver out of her purse and attached the silencer.  Removing his cuffs she told him, “Doesn’t matter which, either way you’re in it deep, now open your mouth.” She forced the gun practically to the back of his throat making him gag.  “Retrieve it for me and don’t get smart, if you’re a good boy I might consider letting you live understand?”
Nodding his understanding through his tears he scooted on his knees to his suitcase and handed her the disk.
“Pwease.” He said with a mouth full of cold steel. “Wet mwe go.”
She removed the gun from the crying man’s throat wiping off his tears and spit from the barrel. “I’m sorry darlin’ I lied. My bosses would never allow you to live, in fact they’d never let me breath another day if I didn’t dispense with you, so honey, it’s either you or me and I have a child to think about. If you’re a praying man I’d do it now.”
“You crazy bitch! I gave you what you wanted! Please don’t do this!”
Her cold violet eyes were the last thing he saw as the bullet tore itself through his brain and spattered out the back of his head.
She cleaned the room with precision of any traces of her DNA. Her blond wig now discarded to reveal her natural long raven hair as she exited the hotel with his suitcase in hand. It would be a few days before the smell from the dead body would alert the housekeeping staff that something was amiss, thanks to Charles’s previous demand at the front desk that he not be disturbed for a few days. By then the hotel management will have discovered their security cameras were disabled with a running loop of old footage of vacationers coming and goings.
Charles’s CIA employer will have quietly disavowed any wrong doing on his part avoiding a potential international scandal and he would be forgotten as an unfortunate victim of a robbery gone wrong. She left nothing in his hotel room, not even his underwear. At his funeral his beleaguered wife would be given a folded flag for his service to his country.
She snuck into her daughter’s room late from catching the red eye and kissed the sleeping child. She slid the new plush teddy bear under the five year olds arm smiling softly as her little angel rolled over hugging her new toy without ever waking up.
Her husband waited in the doorway taking her by the hand leading her to their bed. He respected her need for silence when she returned from her trips instead opting to hug her tightly. Nestled in his strong arms she fell asleep draping her body over his.
Another mission completed.

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daughters, family, fathers, life lessons, mothers, relationships

Kids Grow Up

I am an adult child of divorce. I was about sixteen when my parents decided to end things. To make a long story short, my father wanted to do what he wanted and my mother wasn’t having it.

Kids aren’t stupid and they know who looks out for them. I watched as my mother, a housewife for eighteen years, pulled out the newspaper the day after he left and went to work the next day. She worked jobs she shouldn’t trying to put food on the table.  Recycling plant, cleaning toilets, construction; it didn’t matter, if the money was green she took the job. We may have had utilities off from time to time, but there was always food on the table, even though it may not be the gourmet cuisine you wanted. We learned how to make food last on a limited budget and we were never on any public assistance. The struggle bonded us deeply.

Now my father on the other hand was living the life he wanted with no responsibilities to tie him down. He went and married the woman he was seeing while he was married to my mother, about two months after the divorce was final. He went and bought that brand new red Mustang, not the type of car you would expect from someone with three kids. He wouldn’t call to check on us, but to brag about where he’d been on his vacation. He couldn’t come for his scheduled visits but he made sure we saw his shiny new sports car. He could care less that his kids were hurt, scarred and traumatized, it was all about him.

The same could be said for his parents. We were their only grand children, so on Christmas they doted on us with the huge gift boxes from Hudson’s. My grandmother would go all out with the beautiful hand knit sweaters and name brand items for kids. After my parents split, that was it. No Christmas gifts, no birthday wishes, nothing. As we struggled, no one called to see if the kids had shoes, coats, or even food. We were cut off completely, even though they only lived eight minutes away from us.

Now, the time in the hour glass is in our favor. We’re stable adults now, no drug use, no illegitimate children, my brother had his growing pains as a young black male growing up in Detroit, but these days he’s a workaholic and he’s fine. We’re as close to Mom as we’ve ever been.

Mr. Sherman on the other hand is another story. Having worked for Ford since he was eighteen, he makes a nice salary, but you can never tell. His life is a never ending spiral of dysfunction. The divorce from wife number three was final a couple months ago, so I know he’s looking for his next flavor of the month. He has no choice but to flit from woman to woman because he has no bond with his children and has to assimilate himself into their family. He’s the type who likes to rewrite history, like he was Cliff Huxtable; I have no problem reminding him what a terrible father he was.

Our relationship with him is awkward, like we’re operating at two different frequencies. When we talk he makes juvenile jokes, like he doesn’t realize we’re grown adults now. He doesn’t know me. He can’t tell you my favorite food or color. He’s even clueless about me being a writer, which I plan on keeping that way. Whatever he is, I’m stuck with him.

The ‘accessories’ on the other hand are optional. We eventually reconnected with my grandparents a when we learned after about fifteen years when we learned my grandmother was dying of cancer. We visited the hospital a couple times, but I felt the coldness, like I’d wandered into some random stranger’s hospital room. How pathetic is it when your own grandparents have to ask if you have any children? After a knockdown drag out debate with my brother and sister, we attended the funeral and started visiting with my widowed grandfather again.

Every week or every other week, we’d visit, go out to dinner or a movie. We even invited him over to dinner a couple times and my sister called him every day. A couple years later, a few of her daily calls went unanswered and he called back when he felt like it. He had a new woman in his life and little by little we could feel that chasm opening up again. My sister trying to be nice tried to give him another shot, but the writing was on the wall for me. Dear old sweet granddad used us as placeholders to keep from being lonely until he found another wife. After that I was done with the Sherman family completely. It’s been about two and a half years and I haven’t looked back.

Which brings us to the very reason I’m so pissed today. Sunday my father calls with his normal chit chat which results in him holding the phone in silence and me trying to come up with conversation because he doesn’t know what to say. Before he ends the call, he tells me to call my grandfather on Tuesday, cause it’s his birthday. Huh?

Today I had a missed call from my father and I know what he wants. If I didn’t know what he wanted, the text with my grandfather’s phone number is a clue.

I’m not calling him. Call me cold, callous, heartless, whatever, I’m done with these people. I’m not a toy you can take out of the box and play with whenever some one feels the need. My grandfather has kicked us to the curb twice; once as children and once again as adults, after we gave him a second chance. This isn’t the Oprah show where the long lost relative is hiding behind the curtain. Fake isn’t in me, so I’m not doing the loving granddaughter routine, pretending every thing is fine and make him feel better. I don’t think so.

People need to know that kids aren’t stupid. They may be little and defenseless and can’t do anything when you break promises or break their hearts. But they grow up. Be careful what you throw away.

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