Mother, Where Art Thou?
By Michelle Boyaner
in her eyes you see nothing, no sign of love behind the tears cried
for no one,
a love that should have lasted years." -The Beatles
if I'd have the nerve to play the Rickie Lee Jones version of that
song at my mother's funeral? Problem is, she's not dead yet. Not
even sick. Well, not physically anyway. She's one diagnosis short
of a long-term stay in a big white building up on a hill somewhere,
wearing a backwards jacket, surrounded by finger-paints. But it's
not gonna happen. We'd never let her get sent away. That would be
too tit-for-tat. So, she's chatty, self-centered and has a styrofoam
cooler filled with frozen peas where her heart should be. So? She's
still my mother.
back, I probably should have killed her when I had the chance. When
I was a fetus. As a fetus I had all kinds of access (a backstage
pass, if you will) to various vital organs and major arteries I
just can't get to now. Hindsight is 20/20, but in the 40 years since
that missed opportunity, she has given this all-grown-up fetus many
reasons to kick herself for blowing that chance. If I had, however,
killed her when I was a fetus, I would undoubtedly have been acquitted,
as a jury of my peers, 12 fetuses and two alternate fetuses, would
have been very sympathetic. Additionally so if my court-appointed
public defender had been allowed to introduce "future behavior
by the mother" into evidence.
I didn't commit that crime, and I was never arrested. And that is
just one more thing that sets my mother and me apart, because on
January 2, 2005, my mother Elaine, a 67-year-old grandmother of
11, was arrested, booked, frisked, orange jump-suited and transported
on a giant black and white bus with bars on the windows, along with
hookers and drug dealers (who I'm sure are lovely people and just
misunderstood) to the County Jail. She was locked up and locked
down. She was body cavity searched. (I know, it burns the eyes just
to think about it.) Her belongings were held in a large plastic
bag. She stopped being Elaine, and started being Inmate # 2392794.
Lifetime Television for Women were going to launch a new network,
say Later-in-Her Lifetime Television for Older, Self-Centered
Women, I could produce and direct a new reality series for
them, based on my mother's current life called, Somebody's Crazy
Grandma. The pilot episode would cover her recent run-in with
first job would be casting. Think Elizabeth Taylor WITHOUT the glamour,
money, famous friends, little dog, fabulous wardrobe, or white diamonds.
Wait, that doesn't make sense. That's like saying, "I'll have
the Cobb Salad, but WITHOUT the chicken, bacon, tomatoes, blue cheese
or avocado." My mother is a bowl of Iceberg lettuce to Elizabeth
Taylor's Cobb Salad. I don't know why I started with Elizabeth Taylor
in the first place. Wishful thinking, I suppose.
Later-in-Her Lifetime Television for Older, Self-Centered
Women would probably end up casting an unknown to star in
Somebody's Crazy Grandma. Fine. I 'd be happy with an unknown.
It's just important that she be believable as someone who would
have, when she was much younger, given birth to seven children,
divorced her husband when she was 43 and then one day, packed all
her children's belongings into trash bags (Glad bags, I think. Oh,
the irony!), and left the bags, along with the children, in the
driveway of her ex-husband's new home. With the motor still running
on her Datsun B-210 she would have waved goodbye and headed off
into the sunset, to the promised land of Provo, Utah, where, as
a newly-converted Mormon, the good life awaited her.
director of this pilot episode of groundbreaking reality television,
I'd place cameras everywhere. Several in the two-bedroom apartment
she shares with her loveable, yet troubled, somewhat-bedridden middle
daughter and four beautiful, young grandchildren. We're not really
sure who is living with whom, as they've been in this
co-dependant set up for so long, and moved so many times, nobody
can really remember how it all began. Such details wouldn't matter
to the audience as they would be preoccupied, oddly intrigued and
more than slightly disturbed by the constant shrieking of Grandmother's
I'd show the loveable, yet troubled, middle daughter fast asleep
due to her having consumed an unintentional overdose of a popular
prescription pain reliever and becoming, thereby, unable to deal
with her four beautiful young children and the flu from which they
are all suffering.
67-year-old grandmother of 11 would then pile her four beautiful
young grandchildren into the van for a quick trip to the local drugstore.
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