Where Is My Mother?

“Act II: Greece”

It was 2012, I was 47 years old and I was writing what I call a “therapeutic memoir.” I had known for a while that writing it was necessary. I had to take one more close look at all the painful stuff of growing up, having ignored it for several decades. I had tried to write about it before, but nothing ever came of it. Writing in first person, like a journal or memoir, was just too immediate and painful. When writing in third person, like a novel, I found I got bogged down by my lousy prose. So this time I had put off starting for several months. Then I received an inspiration, a genuine Godsend: I had decided to write it in the form of a screenplay. This device allowed me to look closely at the details, but remain detached when necessary. It was just a collection of characters entering and leaving the scene. When I had to, it was easy to pretend the main character was not myself.

I knew there were key events that would wrap up each Act, but I never counted them out or outlined the overall piece: I just started writing. Act One covered the first six weeks of 1981, when I fell in love, my parents divorced, and I moved overseas with my dad. Parting from my sweetheart on the sidewalk outside a hotel in downtown Racine, Wisconsin on a brutally cold morning wrapped up Act One.

Now I was starting the second act, which would cover my sixteen months in Greece, culminating with my girlfriend’s  inexplicable termination of our relationship. I wrote about the trip through Europe, our arrival in Athens, and the major earthquake we experienced on our second day in town. I wrote about the letter I sent to my sweetie back home, the first I wrote her from overseas, assuring her we were okay, and that I assumed my mother had contacted her to let her know we were all right.

As I reviewed the scene, I wondered if the way I referred to my mother was consistent with my treatment of the character in Act One, so I hit control-F to open the Find tool in the word processor, entered “mom”, and clicked “Find Next”.

“Word has finished searching the document. The search item was not found.”

Odd. I entered “mother”.

“Word has finished searching the document. The search item was not found.”

That can’t be right. I entered “Rita.” Same result. I entered the three words over and over again, clicked “Find Next”, “Find Next”, “Find Next”…wheres mom

Where was my mother? I had just written the story of the breakup of my family, my parents’ divorce, my move out of the country — where was Mom? I scrolled through the last pages of Act One: there’s me parting from my buddies, parting from Lori, leaving with my dad… where’s Mom?

How do you write the story of your parents’ divorce without mentioning your mother? Yet that, apparently, was exactly what I had done. It was the first huge shock to come from this memoir-writing project.

Where was my mother?


2 thoughts on “Where Is My Mother?

  1. Pingback: Hiking the Himalayas with Mom | A Wonder Of Feeling

  2. Pingback: Amsterdam: At The Florist | A Wonder Of Feeling

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