First time I remember panicking

Mama is gone, she left...

My nightgown has little yellow flowers on it. I've been up for awhile, but playing in my room. I realize that it's quiet and something gets my attention that I'm too alone. I must be around 4, maybe younger.

Where's mama? Her bedroom is off mine, she's not in there, I go into the kitchen, she's not there, "Mama!?" I call - it is my usual call I am sure. I was a needy child. There is no answer. I look in all the rooms, the living room, my sister's room, the bathroom. The door to the front hall is also leads to the cellar. There's a light switch by the doorway in our kitchen for the cellar. Under it is a little plastic light that looks like a gem, if the cellar light is on it is lit up bright orange so that I know if someone's down there. I know to look for the light to know if mama's in the cellar. The light is not lit. I remember freaking out. I remember screaming for Mama. running around the apartment. I know what to do! Mama has left me, I will go to Tex's house. I seem to think that this is the thing to do, that Tex will help me. I run out the door into the front hall, and go outside, barefoot I run fast, fast, fast down the sidewalk - it is hot - in my white nightgown with the flowers. If I run quick I'll be okay. Tex lives only a few houses down. Her house is big with three porches like ours but hers is set back up the long driveway. I get to her house and knock on the door. I yell. Tex answers the door, she looks all surprised and her white hair is up like usual. I tell her "Mama is gone, she left...."

Tex looks surprised and worried. I remember that. It made me cry. She says, "Now, now your Mama didn't leave you, she wouldn't do that...." She consoles me, but I think she is not sure.

She puts me in her car and drives me back. Ma is there. Tex tells her that I thought she left. Ma says something like "Well no of course not" or something to that effect.

After Tex leaves I remember Ma chiding me lightly or to herself that I was being ridiculous or something, how could I go to Tex's house and have her think that she had left me alone. Maybe upset that I embarrassed her. Made Tex think badly of her. Tex believed her but for some reason I never did. Where had she been?

I was always the clingy crying child as far back as I could remember. Other people scared me so completely. They were not good. That's all I knew. I always was with Ma. I was always terrified that she would leave me. Why?

Flash forward many years later. I am grown and married. My sister calls me. "Mom is missing."

The car is gone, there's no note. Just that she told my other sister that she would probably go to the Fair. She never returns. We are worried but we really know she left on purpose.

In the years between we have learned only a few things about Mom. Mostly because parents often forget that their children hear and store in memory all the things they talk about around them. Even if we don't respond. We get yelled at or sent out of the room if they know we are listening or understanding.

Mom didn't communicate with her family - past or present. We knew she had a brother, but she never talked to us about having an uncle. Supposedly he was gay and living in Florida. That's all I remember. That their father had "disowned" him or something. We knew she had a sister named Jean. She called her Jeanie. She would sometimes reminisce about her sister and the fights and fun they had. But we could never get answers to our questions. Never met our 'Aunt Jeanie'. Mom had fights with her mother growing up and her parents had separated after mom was a teen. Mom married a guy named Jim Jones – “just like the serial killer" – when she was 16. She got pregnant the first time she had sex is what she told people. She had 3 kids with him. Kenny, Christina and another boy, but I can't remember his name. Sometimes I confuse her other son with the supposed gay uncle in Florida. Maybe her son, my half-brother, is the one that is gay. I don't know. We didn't know them. My mom said that she was abused. That he locked her in a closet. I don't think I was supposed to hear this stuff, but I did. She blamed his abuse for leaving. She just left. Left her kids behind. She told funny tales sometimes about traveling around with salesmen, about a tequila blackout in Mexico. She must have done these things then. She would have been about 18. That sounds right.

Ma would then tell people how she 'came back' for her children, but that the bastard had re-married and given them away for adoption. There was nothing she could do! Oh how wronged! She sounded like the victim. I was to young to understand what a bitch she was about the whole thing. But her story of "having her first 3 children taken away" always reminded me of that time that she was gone, and I ran out of the house in my yellow-flowered nightgown.
Had she done it to me too? Had I not fully remembered it? Is that why I was always so damn paranoid about being without her?

Well, she left us too. My older sister married and living in Virginia with a child of her own, myself, married only a year and living a couple towns over, my brother, living with her and barely scraping by, my other two sisters, one working and not getting along with mom, and the other going to high school, only 15. Mom took almost nothing with her as far as we could tell. Except she took off in my sisters' car that I bought and that she was paying me back monthly for. And I had given mom about $800 of my savings (my husband's too and he was pissed because I didn't ask him first) because she asked me to borrow money because she was behind and the gas and electricity would be shut off she said. I helped because my sisters lived there too. My brother should have been helping, but he could barely help himself and she wouldn't ask them to pitch in. But she would bitch about it. She took that money and disappeared not 2 weeks later. And never paid those bills. She abandoned my youngest sister, only 15. She abandoned my other sister, and brother who were living at home still. She abandoned my life and my older sister's life, and the life of her granddaughter without so much as an explanation. We had the Clinton P.D. list her as a missing person. She stayed missing until last year or so. She tried to register the car in Tallahasee, Florida. It flagged because she was listed as a missing person. The Clinton, MA Police closed the case. We have still not heard from her, but apparently she is living in Florida. I don't think any of us has asked for the address and we certainly have not heard from her.

After having her away for about 4 years we have come to terms with how awful she was to us.


No comments yet, why not leave one of your own?

Leave a Comment or Share Your Story

Please Sign In. Only community members can comment.

SMITH Magazine

SMITH Magazine is a home for storytelling.
We believe everyone has a story, and everyone
should have a place to tell it.
We're the creators and home of the
Six-Word Memoir® project.