When I Think About Writing About My Mother

When I think about writing about my mom I am afraid I will leave the best stuff out. I loved her, hated her, loved her and now mourn her and even channel her. Sometimes she does come out of my mouth.

When I think about writing about my mom I can’t help but start with the most troubling statement: My mom had five husbands. I know that statement alone points readers in a certain direction and then I want to pull them back from the brink of not liking her. So I made up a joke. My mom wanted to convert the world to Christianity one man at a time!

What I want to write about my mother is how she saved me after my father died. I do tell people the only reason I am sane is because my mother allowed me to ask about my dad’s death, it was a suicide, without shame, or judgment. She never spoke badly about my dad.

What I want to say about my mother is how she was such a paradox. On the one hand independent, driven survivor self-sufficient. On the other hand always needed a man. I still do not get that. I mean I truly do not get that. I do think I am relationship stunted from watching my mom fall in and out and in and out of love over and over. I learned that love is falling.

What I want to write about my mom would be the country western song she wanted to write. The title she came up with says it all: I married you forever but you left me when someone better came along. She knew her personal life was a song unsung. For that matter not even written.

Two years before her death my mom agreed to do an oral history with me for the NPR program Story Corps. At first she didn’t think she had an interesting story to tell. Seriously. She spoke for 45 minutes about being raised by a single mother during the depression. She talked about seeing angels when her beloved grandfather died.

She is now seeing real angels, even as I try to write about the one I know as mom.

Kim Sterner is a pastor in Arizona. She attended a Life in 10 Minutes class while visiting Richmond and felt encouraged to share her story.

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