Mother was a Scream

Here I am, Vi at 7, I'd say, probably March 68.

You see me beboppin' along, arms swinging, goofy girl walk. Happy, happy, happy. Then suddenly, a literal about-face, and sad, sad, sad.

Even though it's been 42 years and this clip has no sound track, I know exactly what happened. My mother screamed at me to "get out of the damn way". My Mother wasn't filming, she was sitting on the ground holding a Siamese kitten hostage. She screamed at me a lot, my young memories are punctuated with sarcasm.

Now, I can be sarcastic, but there's the smart ass sarcasm that's a form of joking, and there's biting hurtful sarcasm and having been on the receiving end of the latter I can assure the reader than I practice the milder incarnation.

Dot, she thrived on tart tongued lashings. I think she enjoyed the looks people would give her when she went into a tirade. Mistakenly, she thought "wow, they can see not to mess with me". Observers were thinking "ga, what a hateful heifer".

Actually, "get out of the damn way" is probably a toned down version of what was said. I imagine it was more, "get out of the damn way, before I stomp you through the GD floor". She loved to make those silly threats, but when I was 7, it didn't seem silly, it seemed as if I'd be sinking through the floor with her foot on my head. I know now, that's unlikely, but as a child, I thought she could do it.

She didn't say things like that because she was raised hearing them. She picked it up from a girlfriend of hers, who will be known in Auntie Vi blogdom as "Evil Ann". I look back at snapshots from the mid sixties, and when ever I am in Evil Ann's company, I am always close to tears. I do not have any fond memories of Evil Ann.

My mother wasn't a screaming shrew every minute of every day, surely, but that seems to be all I can remember of her from those times. Later, I remember she hand made all my school clothes, she helped me write lines if I was naughty at school and that was the punishment. She told my step-dad that I was to be allowed to watch "Alias Smith and Jones" and Saturday morning TV, when he grounded me from TV, because she knew those were my favorite shows. This was during a hiatus from Evil Ann, the years when we were back in Mississippi and Evil Ann stayed in Louisiana. Dot was still a screamer, but not so cruel.

Evil Ann didn't teach Dot sarcasm, Evil Ann was evil, but a little on the dumb side. She wasn't smart enough to be sarcastic, she could only master mean and hateful. Sarcasm was Dot's own.

When I was young, I thought all mothers talked that way, until I began spending summers with my aunt and got to know all her sisters-in-laws. These Mothers did not talk like that to their kiddies, they said down homey things in soft southern voices, you did not always think they were mad at you. They'd sit around with kids draped all over them, petting and cooing to their young, I never remember sitting in my mother's lap. These "aunts" would poke their heads out the door, every so often, to make sure everything was going okay in the "Hot Wheels Dirt Pile" My mother would put me outside in the Louisiana heat, our yard had no trees, and locked the door if I came in too often. One day she locked the door and forgot I was out there till after dark. That had to be 9 on a summer Acadiana night. At least, I tell myself she forgot.

But...I'm not here to whine about my Capoteesque childhood. I hope, by putting these things down on "paper" I can finally get over them. I have never gotten over Dot throwing away my Barbie Dolls when I was 12. In 1973, you could still be a 12 year old girl in Mississippi and play with Barbies. And anyway, I wanted to save them. And she didn't tell me till a year later, when She got tired of me looking for them. I gotta let go of that.

This picture describes alot for me. My dear UncaHoney was trying me to pull me in, I can't tell if I'm resisting or drawing closer. That's me, always just on the fringe, observing what's happening, being the historian, remembering the tiny details. Someone has to be the memory keeper after all. Memories, good and bad, are important. You never know when some itty bit of seemingly useless info turns into a big deal cos it helps a body look back, to grab a memory in danger of extinction. Guard your memories well, someday they may be all you have.

1 comment:

  1. I don't even know what to say. This makes me sad, Auntie Vi.

    I loved "dear Uncle Bill", too. Not without his faults either, but still.....he did love us. Those are the memories I choose.