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ADELAIDE Independent Monthly Literary Magazine / Revista Literária Independente Mensal, New York / Lisboa, Online Edition  

 




 


 

 

 

 

 

MOTHERS
by Beth Mead 

 

 

 

My grandmother lived in bed. Her ankles were swollen, hard to walk on, but she wasn’t ill. Not really, not physically. Depression was shameful then. My grandmother’s bed was in the living room of her small home, the kitchen to her left, the closet with her portable toilet to the right. Her husband died of cancer. Her youngest son shot himself in a field. She died in front of a television. As children, we climbed up next to her and listened to her stories about the teddy bears who lived in the woods in the painting above her bed. She would draw me paper dolls to cut out and dress, girls with wide eyes and curled bangs and beauty marks on their cheeks. My grandmother was an artist.

My mother sometimes worked three jobs, three shifts, to pay the bills that my father would not pay after he left, to raise the children he no longer saw. She married another man to help pay the bills, told me later how she knew on her wedding day, standing in our backyard in her powder blue dress from a red tag sale, that she was making a terrible mistake. That man drank every day. He was accused of things that my mother prayed were not true. My mother’s youngest daughter punched her in the stomach in an emergency room, stole from her, asked her how much money she’d leave behind when she dies. With husband number three, my mother got a new home away from the past, and road trip vacations, and finally retirement. She talks me off ledges and takes me to lunch, to musicals, to movies. My mother is a survivor.

I am a terrible mother. I somehow missed that my youngest son has been depressed and suicidal since he was eleven. I somehow missed that he has been drinking and doing drugs for years. Until a policeman knocked on my door at 3am, I somehow missed that my son was sneaking out of our house, meeting up with people in the neighborhood park where I took him as a child, where I pushed him on swings and wished he’d get tired enough to nap. I took my son to counselors and doctors and clinics. I gained a hundred pounds. My husband lost three jobs. Every morning I dread getting out of bed. But some days, there is art. Some days, we survive. Some days, I hold my son close and remember how to be a mother.

 

 

 

About the Author:

Beth Mead

Beth Mead is a Professor of Writing and Director of the MFA in Writing Program at Lindenwood University, and she is the editor of The Lindenwood Review. Beth received her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Missouri-St. Louis. She has won the Jim Haba Poetry Award and was an Honorable Mention in the River Styx MicroFiction Contest. 

 







 

 

 

     
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