By, Sandra Monday

At 16 with child

By my father, David just back

From Vietnam only 22 himself

In 1970’s I remember singing We are the Champions

To the radio in the car

Her dulcet voice as she tucked

Me into my crib

Her blonde hair luminescent one eye blue

One eye green winking mischievously

And her beef stroganoff with too much sourcream

As a child I hated it

But now I love it using the same 43 year old betty crocker recipe she did

From the same faded and red book.

There were friends so many so joyous and so fresh laughing

Through a haze of incense smoke and good food

A kitchen that was spring green and lemon yellow

The same colors I painted in my own home

She would bathe me gently in the claw footed tub

Comb my hair and deftly working through the tangles

Snapping bright plastic barrettes into place

She was so young, so tender, so sweet so kind

My mommy

Until that car accident damaged her brain

It was like she had disappeared

Her sweet musical voice

Was not guttural and deep, frightening even

The voice box crushed by the steering column


Drank she did everyday

Because of the agonizing throbbing in her ruined legs

They said she might never walk again

She did but with great difficulty

Smirnoff vodka and orange juice

Screw drivers as early as 6 am just so she

Could wait tables through the pain

Then through the afternoon until she either passed out

Or went crazy

The names she would call me

And the blows that would land

And it didn’t help that Daddy collected guns and ammunition

From conspiracy theories brought on by the trauma of war

But I know she loved me

That beneath all that that hurt and despair

That my mommy was still there

In 1995 she was the only one to bail me out of jail

33rd on Easter Sunday

When I was suicidal at 21 she wrote a note I still have

Saying my life was worth more to her than anything

And please don’t hurt myself

I know because when I last saw her in July of 2009

She followed me from room to room and even outside

Like a lost and broken kitten

My biggest regret is not talking to her

Not knowing she would be gone a month later

Blinded by resentment from the past I let that happen

But now I know my Mommy was once a little girl too

And so I love, honor and forgive you mom

Because in the end I know this to be true

You did the best that you could do

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