ABOUT RUTH: The Mother Before

I’m going through old photographs looking for clues of a life now almost gone. I can see that The Mother was a beauty, but not the 1940’s Hollywood type beauty. Yes, the pleated and wide-legged slacks, fitted-waist peplum over-blouse, the burnt-red henna hair but not quite the Lucille Ball colour, the bright red lipstick. All there. The effect, however, was not the same as the fashion magazines or the cinema posters or the movies that dictated women’s  fashions for that era of U.S. history that was in the process of winding down two terrible wars. Or was it three?

The missing element…necessary element…to The Mother’s fashionable and coveted opulent lifestyle was, of course, money. She was straight from the sagebrush hills of backwoods Southern California. Poorer than most. Basic high school education. And a haughty flirtatious personality that defied good taste. She was rough around the edges but liked being noticed.  The center of attention was highly prized and hard fought.

She shared a home and a life with a hypochondriac, mentally unstable mother, an overworked father bent on providing for his sickly wife and the much younger other daughter…a cripple with cerebral palsy that required all his time and all the earned money.  Lack of money and lack of attention brought out the worst  in The Mother.  Even then. She acquired the projection of a style  necessary for a young woman who  desperately wanted to get out on her own…to get out on her own.  To get a job. To just get out and away from destitute, low-brow parents and a physically destitute sister. Most of all, though, The Mother wanted to get out and away from her own  perceived destitute life.

I don’t know much about the early years when The Mother left home and went to work at  an aerodynamics factory supplying the government with airplanes, but I heard about that job. Over and over.  It was a story she liked to recount with wide smiles and much gusto. With bravado would be another appropriate describer.  In my imagination I can see her running up and down steel mesh stairways with important papers to be signed and inventories to be taken.  Her high heels. Her Kathrine Hepburn slacks and form fitted twin sweater sets. Permed and colored hair. Lips the colour of a blazing red fire engine. Life was good and damn it all…she had the world on a ball of string that seemed to have no end.  Life was very, very good.

So. What happened?

The Mother was deeply in love. Himself was being shipped to Texas for basic training. She was waiting for Himself’s proposal letter to arrive but instead, in those short weeks away from her and their proposed life,  received a letter from Himself stating he had married…another.  The Mother’s endless ball of good-time and great-life string snapped.  The Mother took and received consolation from her best friend‘s brother-in-law…he being shipped out to conquer or clean-up a Pacific island. Conquer. Clean-up. It didn’t matter.  Nothing mattered.

After all, it was still considered war-time in the late 1940s.

I try to guess…and attempt to put short conversations over heard at family gatherings together and in some sense of time order.  Not easy. These conversations amongst family and friends have always been in  hushed tones. In secret. Especially  around me.  The stares. The empty smiles. Everyone and I do mean everyone seemed to have been threatened and sworn-to-death secrecy.  I was, much later in my adult life, to find this account of sworn-to-death secrecy to be a true story.  The Mother had holding power over many, for years and years.  Therefore, putting the pieces of those whispered snapshots together of The Mother’s life was and is similar to assembling a one thousand piece puzzle on a too-small table top. Not only are some pieces missing but the outer edges, the ones that create the boundaries and hold all together,  fall off the edges of the table.  I can only guess at the vacant pieces and where they should be placed but I also need to find peace within this life, The Mother’s and mine, that continues to do battle in the now ever-present over the loss of what should have been had other choices been made.

Her loss. Her circumstances. Again, her choices.

She was single.

She was  broken hearted…and she was now pregnant.

My name is Ruth.

 

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of any Jots from a Small Apt. material without express and written permission from this writer is strictly not an option. Give me credit when and where credit is due. Otherwise, don’t even think about using my stuff as yours.

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22 thoughts on “ABOUT RUTH: The Mother Before

  1. It’s very interestingly written – is it fiction or biography or autobiography, I don’t know but that’s part of its charm. Ps does anyone really take anyone else’s fiction and pass it off as their own, unless you’re Hemingway? If so, maybe I should also have a long copyright notice!

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    1. My…looks as you and I are in very good company! I’ve read you previously and most likely didn’t “sign on” then because….I was so jealous of you living in Dublin…happily I’m over that! Still jealous but over it. Following you now, by the way.

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  2. That’s a strong, well written piece! It swept me along to the end.
    I hope you get the rest of the story and the piece you deserve.

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    1. Thank you so much. Looked at your Z&G post…interesting writing grant info/apps. Am saving info…perhaps…next year’s go-round. I do believe: there are no coincidences. May I ask how/why you “stopped” by?

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      1. Not at all! I happened on your blog completely by accident….or as you and I both seem to believe, via happy serendipity 🙂 I’d just read another blog (I’m sorry, I can’t recall which one) and I believe you must have commented on it. I sat down with my coffee to begin writing something else, and my coffee mug clicked my mouse…which just happened to be hovering on your Gravatar/comment. When your profile popped up, I followed it through to your blog while I sipped my coffee, and loved what I saw. The rest is history 🙂 And a very happy history it is! Very nice to meet you!
        Anne

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      2. Yes. Serendipity…don’t you just love that word and all the meanings that encircle the total of all those funny letters put in spelling order that makes up…..whhaatt…Where we are supposed to be when we get there? Yes. Right!! What a pleasant surprise you are, Anne. Nice to meet you, too….Raye

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  3. Very beautiful, haunting and bittersweet. You made me get the hankie out, darn it! Love love love this piece, twinnie!

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    1. MZN…top of the morning!! Predicted seventy degrees today in Portland….it’s about time!!!
      We can be twins in weather today?…but friends tell me not…AZ already well into summer and much hotter. Anyway, thanks for the thumbs up!!

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      1. Yes, spring has gone by the wayside, again! Can’t wait until October…
        And hands up, not just thumbs!

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  4. Wow. This is a powerful and beautiful piece of writing. It brought me back in time, to a world of a woman I did not know. And I was mesmerized!

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