Friday, February 9, 2018

Dear Mom by Paul Beckman

Paul Beckman's epistolary story about a son's deteriorating relationship with his mother.

Dear Mom... You were sure right about the foliage. The New Haven Green is ablaze with multi-colored trees and the constant changing hues made me want to draw or paint them so I bought a small colored pencil kit and have included a couple of sketches. Hope they're not too abstract for your liking. I'm also taking photos of the trees and have purposely blurred them so shapes don't interfere with the colors. It's starting to get chilly here now so I'm glad you had me pack those sweaters. I remember that this is the best weather in the Bay Area. I guess autumn (you always call it fall) is the best season on both coasts. Too bad I won't be seeing you for Thanksgiving, I was looking forward to it; but if you say you're physically and mentally exhausted and need the rest who am I to argue? Love Daniel.

Dear Mom... I don't know what to say except that I'm sorry about you and Dad. I've known for a long time the marriage wasn't perfect but I had no idea he would just up and leave. Are you sure you don't want me to come home for the semester break? It's five weeks and I can get a lot done around the house for you. I was looking forward to sharing my experiences with you, seeing the old crowd and sleeping in my old bed. I do miss that old bed! I understand that I remind you of Dad but I'm not him and I hope you'll reconsider. Your loving son Daniel

Dear Mom... You forgot to send me your new phone number when you had it changed and went unlisted. I tried to call you on your birthday. Did you do anything special? The break's been over for a couple of weeks and the new courses are like the weather - tough. I'm not used to snow and we've been getting plenty of it. The other day I got thinking about your cooking and I desperately wanted your chicken fricassee. I couldn't get it out of my mind so I went down to a Greek diner and ordered it at one in the morning. You could sure give them cooking lessons. Their attempt at fricassee only made me more homesick. I can't wait to come home for the summer. I've been in touch with my old boss at the hardware store and he's promised to hire me back. Love, Dan

Dear Mom... It's too bad you don't have real recipes, just some notes that you improvise from. If you should happen to think about it when you're cooking one of your old standards please write down the ingredients and instructions as you cook. I'd really appreciate it. The salmon croquets I had at the diner last week were nothing like yours, and the same with the meatloaf and stew. P.S. phone number? Love

Dear Molly...It sure does feel strange calling you anything but Mom, but if that makes you feel better, I'm glad to do it. Are you going to be here for my graduation? It's been years since we've seen each other and I want you to meet my girlfriend and be with me on my big day. I wish you hadn't returned the yearbook photo of me. I can't help it if you see "him" every time you look at me. Daniel

Dear Molly... You missed a great wedding and it would have been much greater if you'd have been here. Sara and her parents had been hoping to meet you. We were expecting to see you on our honeymoon trip out west and dropped by the house to surprise you. I had no idea you moved. At least you kept your old PO Box. I started my new job the week we got back. It's a wonderful career opportunity as assistant to the comptroller of the phone company. Dan

Molly... Sorry to upset you. I had no idea he once worked for the phone company. D

Dear Molly... Haven't heard back from my recent letters. Hope all is okay. The baby's six months old now and Sara's a great mother - like you were. I'd love to send you a picture of Sammy but I have to tell you that he looks exactly like I did at his age.

Dear Mom... Don't worry, I won't send the photo. It is nice having my old grade school stuff and photo albums but it's also kind of sad. The boxes arrived last week. I can't help it that my handwriting is the same as "his" so I'm writing this on my computer. Hope it's easier for you to handle. Sammy's starting kindergarten and Emma's in nursery school. Sara decided to go back to school for her masters and I have just been promoted to Comptroller. Daniel

Molly... I can't tell you how disappointed I have been to not hear from you this past year. If I don't get a response to this letter I'll stop writing. Meanwhile, I hope that all is well with you. I never mentioned that Dad looked me up when I was at Yale and visited often. He was at my graduation, wedding and around for the babies when they needed a grandparent. I know that he was a good man and didn't walk out on you - you threw him out. That was probably one of the best days of his life. He's been living in an apartment a few blocks away from us. Last week he passed away.

Molly... What am I supposed to do with your phone number now? D

14 comments:

  1. The emotional and chronological ground covered in this short piece is extraordinary and credible. The portrayal of the emotionally abusive mother, by reference, is superb. Many thanks,
    Ceinwen

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  2. A sad story. The “voice” of Mother / Molly comes through loud and clear. The gradual progression of estrangement was effective.

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  3. A fine piece about an initially needy son and an increasingly distant and regretful mother.
    Mike McC

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  4. Oof. As a mother I had a really hard time reading this and imagining it could ever be true...at the same time, I remember a friend's novel, Bee Summer (Melanie Dugan), about a similar estrangement (only in that case, the mother ran away from home and the father raised the daughter - daughter eventually went to try to find mother. Friend told me she wrote it because she'd heard about a mother deserting her family and found it hard to imagine, herself - wanted to delve into the repercussions). But...it seems to be a "thing" these days, to regret becoming a parent. Perhaps it could take this shape. Very sad and painful. :-(

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  5. Excellent story about emotional abuse of males, a major but largely unexposed social problem. Well done.

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  6. Thanks you all for reading and commenting. I truly appreciate it.

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  7. Paul is such a wonderful story writer. This was another pleasure treasure.

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  8. Wonderful insight. Great writing. Loved it.

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  9. This one. this one is heartbreaking and beautifully told.

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  10. Breathtaking. One of the best pieces I've read in a while.

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  11. Absolutely heartbreaking; I'm in a meeting at work and trying not to cry. Especially since I'm originally from the Bay Area, have a son named Daniel, and my grandmother's name was Molly; she was exactly like the mother in this story, emotionally abusive to my dad. This really touched a chord. Well done.

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  12. A really beautiful, poignant and sad story. Great work.

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  13. A touching and sorrowful portrayal of family and the suffering endured when "victim hood" and denial rule instead of growth and learning and acceptance. Thank you!

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  14. Love this one and how it was constructed. So sad but poignant.

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