Cleaning For Pride

The three of us, lunches finished, lingered over our sweet teas, were talking about what the rest of the day held. 

“Errands”, “Manicure, car wash, pick up dinner” were my friends’ answers. “Sigh….” I said. “Why the long face, sis, asked Tammy,  do you have something horrible to do?” “Well, I am going out to the cemetery to sit with mom for a bit, then I’m going home to clean, nothing horrible, but I always get a little sad, I don’t know why, I mean, mom is with me all the time.” “Maybe it’s because everyone around you there is dead. Don’t you get creeped out, sitting there all alone? Isn’t it spooky?”, replied Cathy. She’d know, her mom has been gone 10 years. “No, I find it comforting, actually. It’s quiet, peaceful, I can think clearer,” I said, “but perhaps I should clean first, then visit”,I’m pondering. “Hmm…why?” asked Tammy. I reply, ” ’cause y’all know how mom felt about a clean house, ” I’m now replaying memories, smirking, recalling quirks of mom’s. “She would be wagging her finger at me, I see it now. I haven’t mopped in a couple weeks, need to unload the dishwasher,” I begin thinking of the things I need to do, while my companions begin their lists, too. They sound as if they’d rather be getting root canals. “So, why was your mom so picky? Why are you so hard on yourself? Your house is always clean, it’s just you and a cat,” exclaims Cathy, “I have 4 teenage boys, a muddy yard, and a husband who “forgets” to take off his shoes, so my carpet is always a mess, and my house is never as clean as I want it, but with working 40 hours a week, the last thing on my day off that I wanna do is clean, eew…”  “Yeah, I see that. I just clean as I go, that’s how I was raised. Take a shower? Use your washcloth to wipe down the sink, vanity, the shower before you get out. Cooking dinner? Clean your dishes, measuring cups, etcetera, as your meal is cooking. When you get up in the morning, make up the bed, pick up whatever was left on the nightstand, ya know?And I guess mom was really picky, because when my brother and sister were little, they rented, sometimes staying with Granny when money got right. When she married my dad, he built her a beautiful house. She’d never owned one before. A house, I mean. All wood floors, wood everything, baseboards, paneling, a bright shiny kitchen. She was so proud of that gorgeous house that anytime someone stopped by, namely relatives who lived in the neighborhood, she wanted a showplace. She cherished the oohs and aahs, the compliments. She cleaned and kept it clean because she was proud. Pride. That was her motivation, and she instilled that in me. I would say probably I’m proud, too. It says something when someone walks into your space and you know it looks the very best. People really do judge.” 

My friends smiled, nodding, “Yeah, I get that” pans Cathy. “It sure does make a difference, Tammy noted, and concluded, things add up.”

“Great….now I feel like I need to go home and declutter, find the table under that mess and clean off the dust. Wipe the toothpaste spots off the mirror, clean the cook stove where soup bubbled over. Thanks, pal!” Says Cathy, sarcastically.  They were both smiling. And I know, somewhere in the corner of Heaven, mom is smiling, too. 


Enough       2015

I am stronger than you think I am, have fought and won many many battles In my head, in my mind. 

You can not even begin to guess how I have persecuted and slain myself for you. To live up to what you think I should be.

It’s not enough, I am still angry still empty. And yet, still not enough for you. I can not be this to you anymore. I can not keep doing this to myself; I have to live for me. Even if I don’t know who I am anymore. 

I will scatter myself to the wind

For I am the dandelion

I will float across the sky

It’s just like me this raggedy weed; 

And just like you – for you to disagree. 

I’m done. No more. 


You flew in, swept me off my feet. Said “he” isn’t taking care of me so you thought you could. Thought you should. And I believed you. 20 to my 16, 2 jobs, a slammin car, and the physique to match it.  

All those nights in your arms led me to think you really would be for me, my home life was a mess and I envisioned a world for just us. I wanted to escape the household asylum I was in. I thought that was who you were. My dream. My rose colored glasses shattered the first time you grabbed me in anger. But it was too late. I was 17 then, pregnant. Remember mom slamming me into the wall screaming in my face, demanding that I tell her I got pregnant on purpose. I told her no. The anger in her, when she slapped my face jolted me back to you grabbing me in anger. Trapped. There was nothing I could do. Nowhere to go. 

The “right” thing was to get married. Mom’s 3 choices. Give the baby up, abortion, get married. How I felt at that time about my own adoption, I quickly moved that away. Abortion? I was already dubbed “the girl whose parents threw her away”, I couldn’t do that to my baby, I couldn’t be labeled “killer”, “slut” – I even heard whispers of “her folks didn’t want her, bet she doesn’t want this kid either”. I was determined to keep my baby. 

Your mom threw a FIT and then threw you out of the house. So much for me trying to blend in with your family. Again, I felt trapped. I did try to talk to mom, her response was “you made the decision to have sex with this man-child, face this head on and try to make the best of a bad situation.” Incidentally, it was years later when I figured out why she called you man-child. 

So I shook myself off and played the role of mom to be, and set out to be all I could in school. Mom also said I would be a dropout. My senior year, in class, I worked my ass off, straight A’s. Oh I was so happy and in love. So I wanted to believe. I’d come home from school and crash. This baby took a lot out of me. 

Were we in love? Were we even friends? We showed each other off to our respective friends. We were gorgeous then. Love? No. I was your prize pony. You were the older (but not wiser) guy I played up to with my friends. 

We were supposed to be in love. First comes love, second comes marriage. Right? That’s how it’s supposed to be. So I told myself I was in love. There was no smoldering undercurrent, no butterflies when I looked at you. Well love is different for everyone. We were  supposed to do everything right. So we did. Before Jeremy was even born the way you grabbed me in anger should have set off clanging alarms. But no, see, I’m pregnant and now married. You being that angry with me, as I’m sure I dished out as good as I got in return, I had to stuff down inside. 

Love? Happiness? Not one bit. Resentment for getting pregnant (you told me I couldn’t get pregnant if you pulled out) – you were wrong. Angry at myself for not knowing any better, ashamed because your mother hated me. Ashamed because mom told me how stupid I was.  Nothing new, she called me stupid many many times before I got pregnant. Missed a spot cleaning? Stupid. Forgetting to get the clothes off the clothesline or out of the dryer? Stupid. Drop an ice cube? Stupid. 

Love? Happiness? I don’t think so, ever. I was so naive and you wanted another mom. I bet you even resented me because your mom kicked you out of the house because I was pregnant. For years after I was still intimidated in her presence. We’d visit them, you’d go off with your dad and leave me to fend for myself and I never knew what to say so I said nothing. A lot of times she wouldn’t talk either. 

Happy? No. In love? No. 

But we did go through the motions. 

Jerri          17 May 2015

Darrell 21 April 2011

I want to be warm, snug, safe and not think about those around me dying. About the mortgage being 4 months late, the dishes I don’t feel like doing. – like what’s the point?

Pieces of our scattered lives that we don’t share with friends. We don’t tell our friends about late mortgages or how your husband made you feel so bad or that your migraines are so bad you wish the pain to be permanently over so you never have to get him away from work or wake him up in the middle of the night because it hurts so bad an ER visit is a necessity. Brain tumor would not only explain I REALLY am sick but it it all went quickly at least the pain would be over soon. 

The one that understood the stigma, the negativity of it all as well as what it does to relationships, the same one that went into drunked rages and hurt me not just with physical punches, but she could cut me down so much worse with cruelty. 

When I met Darrell, he said I was Roberta Flack and Joan Jett rolled into a 4 ft 11 inch nerd who would rather go read a book than just about everything else. 

Not that he didn’t have issues at home either. But we understood them. No one at our age knew what we knew. We hated to leave school and go home. That first day after seeing the bruises I tried to cover up, he wrapped his arms around me and felt it all. The pain, confusion, disappointment to belong desperately somewhere. The day he said he loved me I knew he was speaking from his heart, we leaned on each other like rats leaving a sinking ship. 

And he called me out of the blue. Cancer. Stage 4. Not gonna make it. As the pain got worse I had to be there. I was expecting sadness, like a “why me” unanswered question. I had never met a happier dying person. He was glory bound. Couldn’t wait to go to heaven.  He said he’d save me a seat, and you know, I think he would. 

RIP Darrell 1966 to 21 April 2011 I will never forget you and always love you. 


Do with me what you will. I don’t care. Baby you got your needs and I got mine as long as I’m happy you’re doin fine. 

“It’s a primal urge,” I beg and I plead….

You’re so selfish the shower is all you need. And want. For now. “Babe, running late, see ya at noon!” on your way out the door. 

But I’m the little woman what could I possibly want, you ask – I say, More than the spin cycle” “come ‘ere boy.”

Phone rings, you give me those sad eyes. 

“Make it up to you?”apologetically you ask. Out the door you go again……

Everybody needs someone sometimes, if I don’t answer your knock, you’re too late. 

Just a primal urge, don’t take it personal. I don’t. 

Jake 2013

There is nothing worse than the hurt of loving someone you can’t have. 

But that’s love for ya. We want the ones we can’t have and shit all over the ones we do. Everyone is angry, sad, fucked up in their own way. But ain’t it grand? 

*did you love me, sweet man, or were you as sad as I was, and lonely too?

Edit: He said he would always love me whether he was with me or Michele. He loves her too. And her son. 

When I called him and told him events from my life were leading me on a different path, he had one question “Do you love him honey?” With all of my heart, all of my brain.  Good news to someone who was helpless to stop the pain I was in. 

He said IT. And that was THAT!

After being told for years I was biased in my way of thinking, over a simple lunch, I finally felt vindicated. He said it, he admitted it. What I struggled with all along, just blurted, like “it’s going to rain today.” No fanfare. I didn’t want any. Just an acknowledgement that it really was the way I remembered. 

He really said it. Wow. 29 April 2015. Shocked isn’t strong enough to convey how I know my brain was screaming. My eyes, my face, though, simply carried on as if perhaps it was a declaration of incoming rain. If that’s all I will ever receive it will be enough.