I call her Mar, ma mère, she's Mar-y Ann, but you can call her Mum because invariably everyone does.

Picture her at sixteen in her men's felt hat and long long blonde braids, taking the green wooden motorboat to the end of the lake and singing Neil Young songs at the top of her voice. Was a punk-ass kid. You know how she got that hat? She and her friend hitched to Rochester to play pool at the university student union, and some guy said it looked better on her than on him. Yeah, well, that's the story.

This past summer, she hitched again, this time with her friend Shari: they were hiking the Appalachian Trail and needed a ride into town. So now she's ridden a big rig, raised three kids to adulthood. Swore she'd never get married, dropped out of college, married young. She can't pronounce french and stumbles endearingly when she tries but her cooking is inspiring and nourishing. This sketch perhaps implies she is impetuous. She is not.

Mum is deliberate and generous. Her younger daughter and son wear her thick gold hair. She comes home from walks with pockets and hands full of sticks and rocks and acorns. She worries but i almost feel as if it is the worry of someone assigned the role of a worrier. Played to the hilt. And now what?

Now she is free. She is learning that she loves to travel.

... and I don't get along very well. We are very different people.

In second grade, she told me that Klondike bars give little kids cancer, so she could eat the last Klondike bar.

Til this day, I have never had a Klondike bar. She denies the Klondike incident, but she can't even remember which year I graduated high school, so her memory is questionable.
My Mother
Robert Mezey (b. 1935)

My mother writes from Trenton,
a comedian to the bone
but underneath, serious
and all heart. "Honey," she says,
"be a mensch and Mary too,
it's no good to worry, you
are doing the best you can
your Dad and everyone
thinks you turned out very well
as long as you pay your bills
nobody can say a word
you can tell them to drop dead
so save a dollar it can't
hurt- remember Frank you went
to high school with? he still lives
with his wife's mother, his wife
works while he writes his books and
did he ever sell a one
the four kids run around naked
36 and he's never had,
you'll forgive my expression
even a pot to piss in
or a window to throw it,
such a smart boy he couldn't
read the footprints on the wall
honey you think you know all
the answers you don't, please try
to put some money away
believe me it wouldn't hurt
artist shmartist life's too short
for that kind of, forgive me,
horseshit, I know what you want
better than you, all that counts
is to make a good living
and the best of everything,
as Sholem Aleichem said
he was a great writer did
you ever read his books dear,
you should make what he makes a year
anyway he said some place
Poverty is no disgrace
but it's no honor either
that's what I say,
                              love,
                                      Mother"


     In Robert Mezey's introduction to his mother's letter, he confirms his mother's love for him, "My mother {is} a comedian to the bone/ but underneath, serious/ and all heart." As the poem moves on, mother's letter makes it obvious that her son is in hard times and a good candidate for the "starving artist" title. However, any more insight on his character ends there, focusing more on Mother's personality than her son's.

     Initially, the poet's mother only seems nagging and sarcastic. Yet once the poem is read more carefully, pairs of lines acquire a loose rhyme and more obviously, mother's personality deepens.

     Mother loves her son in two obvious ways. First, there is a side of her that is "all heart" that wants her son to fulfill his aesthetic wants. Yet another part of Mother's personality is "serious" and practical, wanting him to "make a good living," and to have "the best of everything." This practical side sees her son's writing career only as a fancy or a whim with not much value in the real world. Though both forms of mother's love are most apparent throughout the poem, her sarcastic manner is also hard to ignore.

     Mother's "all heart" side, appears through the length of the poem mixed in with sarcastic instances. To begin with, she tells her son and his wife, "it's no good to worry, you/ are doing the best you can," but not long afterward her sarcasm reappears with practicality, "your Dad and everyone thinks you turned out very well/ as long as you pay your bills." Later her maternal instincts kick in, defending her son, "nobody can say a word/ you can tell them to drop dead."

     Mother cleverly uses Frank's case which is an extreme of her son's in her letter. It is most likely that her son sees himself in Frank who "still lives with his wife's mother {whose} wife/ works while he writes his books," and never sold one. Once more her sarcasm emerges, "such a smart boy he couldn't/ read the footprints on the wall." This mocking trend continues with, "you think you know all/ the answers you don't," and calls him an "artist shmartist." She sarcastic tone continues, "as Sholem Aleichem said/ he was a great writer. . . you should make what he makes a year."

     On a gentler but effective note mother closes her letter with a quotation from Aleichem, "someplace poverty is no disgrace/ but it's no honor either." Robert Mezey's mother, like most mothers, shows love for her child in many ways. In this case, mother advises her son with sarcasm, seriousness, and "all heart."

Knows everything. From where to phone to find out about your social insurance claims to where to get the best plummers to where to buy the best camambert.

Can do anything. Work, cook, laugh, draw, love, hug, fix, console, arrange, decide, acquire, find out, tell.

Is always right. If my mom tells you to take your umbrella, you just know it's going to rain. It has to. It always does.

Is weak. Her heart rasps menacingly and her back seizes and grinds. Hr feet are often swollen and her eyes are often red.

Is all-powerful. No one defies my mother. No one ignores my mother. Not her children, not her husband, not her boss, not her in-laws, not her parents, not taxi drivers or sales bimbos or government droids. Everybody sits up and takes notice.

My mother is my world. She is my life. I would not have managed to stay alive as long as I have - alive in my body, alive in my mind - if it wasn't for the pure, solid, diamond-like certainty of her love and support.

My mother and I are joined by an imperceptible, invisible umbilical cord of the soul. We have the same thoughts at the same moments. We like the same things and think the same about people. We are a unit, a front, a circle that no one can break and no one can enter.

My mother will die before I do. And I don't want to live without her. There is nothing for me to live for if the better half of myself, my spirit, my courage, my strength are taken away. But she will. She is older than me and already not well and one day I will have my guts ripped out of me with a terrible, unimaginable monstrous pain and she will be gone forever.

And I am crying as I think about it, even now, sitting as I am at work, surrounded by people. I am crying because my mother is thousands of miles away from me and I am a wretched, undeserving, callous animal for doing something as idiotically cruel as not spend every breathing second of the rest of our time together with her, by her side, helping her, making sure she is happy, making sure she is whole.

I am forever halved. The half of me that wants its own life, its own loves and concerns, that yearns for independance and scope, is forever at war with the half of me that is my mother.

My mother is a few french fries short of a happy meal-- if you catch my drift. Once for Easter, she bought me and my sister chocolate Easter Bunnies in a box. On the way home from the store she got a little hungry and ate the head of mine off. That wasn't bad part though. She left it in the hot sun in her car because she didn't want me to find it and ruin the suprise. So when I finally recieved my Easter gift-- it was a chocolate lump that had fit the mold of the corner.

One day my friend Randi and I went running. We decided to come home for some drinks and low and behold my mother was there. She told Randi that she liked her "Umbrio" shorts. "Umbro?" replied Randi. "Yes," my mother said, "I know that an Umbrio is an unborn child." Ok- hello mother-- isn't that an Embryo?

When I was seven she helped me with my homework and she mispelled California. She swore to me that it was "CALIPHORNIA."

I can remember riding in the car with her when Lump by the Presidents of the United States of America came on the radio. . . She actually asked me if Bill Clinton and Al Gore wrote it.

My mother was not paying attention one time and put salt in her cookies.

Last year, a bat got into our house and she really was afraid that it would turn into a vampire (I am totally serious).

She also drove away with the gas pump still attached her car before. How embarrassing.

It really is a miracle that I turned out so normal. *twitch*

This is not simply a node to bash on my mother-- it is a request for people everywhere who have mothers like mine to come together and everything will be okay. Sometimes I lie in bed and cry-- cries of longing to have a mother with intelligence; dignity; anything. But my cries are only distrubed by the sound of my mother falling off of her bed. She has fallen off of her bed 23 times during her sleep. It does have it's perks though-- my mother being so slow. I can get away with most things and easily stretch the truth and she will believe me. It is quite entertaining actually. Anyway I must go before my mother catches the house on fire-- she is cooking.

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