Today, December 5, marks my twins’ 54th birthday, and today also marks the 55th anniversary of the death of their older brother Charlie. Baby Charlie lived only five days before dying of birth trauma, and a year later, on that same day of the month, our son and daughter were born. Good times, right?
Tomorrow, December 6, marks the anniversary of my mother’s death 42 years ago. Early December is surely a mixed bag for me, but I would dearly love to sit down with my Mom and talk to her adult to adult. Or rather octogenarian to septuagenarian—she didn’t make it to her 80’s, but she was the last of her immediate family, with both her sisters gone and no other close relatives but her three kids.
I want to say to her, “Mom, how did you deal with the loneliness of being ‘the last one’? Or what did you do when you felt the discomfort of angina, like I have now? Did it frighten you? Or did you just take it in stride and pop some nitroglycerin? How did you deal with the depression of living with your son and his two kids, one of whom disliked you and wasn’t shy about letting you know? How did you do it? How did you survive for as long as you did?”
Of course, I can’t do that, I can’t talk with Mom again. But I often wonder if she’s watching over me from wherever she is right now. Sometimes I feel her presence, and it’s comforting to think that it might be possible. Miss you, Mom. Miss you too, Charlie. You were loved.
I couldn't believe my eyes when I opened this week's edition of the Valencia County News-Bulletin. But there it was, an article about Sometimes I Cry. The reporter, Julia Dendinger, did a wonderful job after only a brief phone interview. I am beyond thrilled!!!
I'm so saddened to report that my beloved brother John is ill and is receiving hospice care. As kids, John and I were "team-find-and-destroy-all-the-wine-bottles" when my Mom's alcoholism was at its worst, and to lose him will be losing a huge piece of who I am. I love him dearly, and am devastated by what's happening.
Well, I didn't win the top prize, but I was flabbergasted to be listed as a finalist in the NM Book Co-op's 2022 NM-AZ Awards!!! I know the competition was stiff--there are a lot of great memoirists out there--but I was pleased beyond belief that the reviews recognized Sometimes I Cry.
I'm sorting through things and cleaning out/throwing out things I no longer need, and came across a bunch of old photos, including this one of my grandmother and me. It must have been Easter Sunday when I was 10 or 11 years old. She was "Grandmother" in the book, but she looks pretty benevolent here. I know she was only trying to help but we kids didn't experience it that way. Poor Grandmother. Poor (already fat) Jeannie.
I’ve been asked about my relationship with my mother after that tumultuous childhood, and if I hated her for the childhood I'd had. No. Just no! My mother was one of the warmest kindest people I know. Her alcoholism was, as we now recognize, a sickness and not a character flaw. Sadly, she never saw that. Her own upbringing (think Grandmother in my book) left her with a feeling of being unloved, and she was sure that her bout with alcoholism was an act of evil. She would never talk about it, and that makes me so sad, even today, even after all the years that she’s been gone. I loved her then, and I love her now, and am so grateful I got the chance to know her as a kind loving adult with a killer sense of humor. Miss you to this day, Mom!
When Molly was about five, somebody threw a little dirty ratty puppy over the fence at the stable where I boarded my horse. Not unusual — people dump unwanted dogs all the time. This puppy was a sweetie, but one of her front legs was injured and she had raging diarrhea. I helped get her cleaned up and assured the owners, that no, I did NOT want to take her home.
Fast forward to several weeks later when the owners arrived home from showing their prize quarter horses only to discover the puppy had eaten the whole side off their brand new leather recliner. In the interests of saving that puppy’s life, I took her home. I was not greeted warmly by either Dan or by Molly, although my kids were instantly in love. That puppy became known as Muffin.
Muffin became a huge and supportive part of my children’s lives as they grew, and they loved her unconditionally. Not so much Molly, who didn’t appreciate being tromped on or charged over by two rambunctious kids — and the feeling was mutual. Muffin lived to be 14, and died of congestive heart failure during the time when Dan and I were separated. Unlike Molly’s death, we were all there to be with Muffin in her final moments.
Somebody asked me for a little background on Molly. I actually got her by accident when I went to a pet store to “look at books about dogs.” Right. The store had a couple of mixed-breed puppies that someone had brought in to sell. One was a small yapping poodle puppy, and the other was a beagle-basset cross. I picked up the beagle-basset puppy and walked around the store, just looking, you understand. The puppy licked my hand — and that sealed the deal. I brought her home. I don't think everyone at home was as thrilled as I was.
There are times that wonder why I went forward with publishing Sometimes I Cry. It’s very personal and some parts of it are very intense. I feel like I’m really putting myself out there with this!
By way of background, the writing dates to the early 1990’s, when Dan and I were separated. Writing is how I coped with all the turmoil and sadness of those years. I really never gave much thought to publishing it, so the manuscript sat on a shelf — until right before the pandemic went into full swing. I’d taken a class at UNM Continuing Ed and met Carol March, who eventually edited the manuscript and guided me through the whole process. She thought it was good enough to put out there for others to read. Based on her recommendation, I also showed it to a friend, who was a little hesitant at first but who took it home to read. I think she was afraid of what she would find. Melodrama? Terrible writing? Embarrassing copy? :o) That’s quite the opposite of what she found, thankfully. Thanks for your encouragement, Jodi!!!
The whole experience of those years living apart from Dan had a huge impact on my life. They changed me in so many ways, and while I don’t regret any of the experiences I had, I do regret the hurt I caused Dan when I walked out. I am beyond grateful that we’ve been able to work things out. I cherish him, and I cherish our time together.
I hope you enjoy Sometimes I Cry!