Wednesday, January 28, 2009

the estrangement

Three years before my mother died, I decided not to speak to her again. And why? During a conversation over the telephone, she had once again let me know that my accomplishments—becoming a responsible and independent woman—did not amount to very much, that the life I lived was nothing more than a silly show, that she truly wished me dead. I didn’t disagree. I didn’t tell her that it would be just about the best thing in the world not to hear this from her.
The Estrangement by Jamaica Kincaid
via Maud Newton
Photo from here

8 comments:

DUSKIN said...

i can relate.

cake. said...

intense.

Bobble Bee said...

intense, indeed.
her story reminds me a postcard I found years ago.
it was on the street and i picked it. it was written by the guy on the picture (there was a guy and a girl in the photo).
He was saying that the photo was taken hours before the two friends would never speak again... it seemed something happened after the picture was taken, then he added, it's been 13 years and i still think of her...
those really really sad, painful and yet beautiful stories.
thanks for your comment on my blog :)

theue said...

!!!!!!!a great stinger!!!!!

Jane said...

You can read the whole essay here:
http://www.aarpmagazine.org/family/the_estrangement.html

A have taught "Girl" and the novel Annie John to my first-year comp students at UC Berkeley, and they are always horrified at the mother. They can not believe any mother could be so cold, self-involved, etc. even though in Annie John the mother is also quite wonderful in a lot of ways (and in the longer essay containing this excerpt Kincaid describes how her mother cared for Kincaid's brother as he died of AIDS). Anyway . . . when some of my students write their own narratives and sidle up on the truth about their own difficult mothers and fathers, they usually back away. I think you have to get to a certain age before you can look at the hard stuff, reflect on and then express what it is and what it means. All by way of saying "difficult mother" is one of my favorite things to read and write about.

Erica said...

Jane, thanks so much for your comment and the link, I hadn't looked for the whole essay yet. This excerpt is so powerful.

Annie John is on my bedside table, but I've never read it. My favorite, maybe, on this (very central) theme is Mona Simpson's Anywhere but Here.

Hila said...

Luckily, my mother tries not to be this blunt most of the time.

CAzulay said...

Oh if that wasn't true among so many of us, maybe I would be a happier person...