Monday, April 24, 2006

Entry #13

"Emancipation"
By Jaye Wells


The only items my mother left me upon her death were a pair of antique lamps. Starting with my great-great grandmother, who received them as wedding gifts, the lamps were handed down to the eldest daughter of each generation.

While beautiful, I hated them. They sat on a side table in my foyer, taunting me each time I walked past. Many times, I contemplated donating them to Good Will. But my ingrained Catholic guilt, along with a displaced sense of duty prevented me.

Why was it that thirty-two years, a funeral and hours of therapy could not severe the umbilical cord of guilt that tightened like a noose around my psyche?

When alive, mother (never mom or mommy) kept me in constant fear that one day she would withdraw her love. In actuality, she never loved me--I didn't realize that until much later.

As I aged, the threat of withdrawing love became the threat of withdrawing monetary support. She decided my college major(accounting) and even the men I dated ("Darling, he's new money--how gauche"). I followed her dictates like an addict, needing that next fix of approval.

Then she died in her sleep. And I found out that playing by the rules had gotten me nothing but a pair of fucking lamps.

But now they symbolize something different. They're a reminder of the day the light finally clicked on inside me and I was free—the day my mother died.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

For personal reasons, I like this effort. Interesting what you did with "lamps...handed down to the eldest daughter of each generation". Things like that are supposed to be sacred to women, but the protaganist sullies the the romantic notion, only to rebuild it into her own ideal.

Might be fun to eventually write a longer piece about each owner of the lamps?

Flood

sandra said...

I really like this. It so perfectly reflects some mother/daughter relationships. Good job

Jeff said...

Emotionally powerful. Good job, Jaye.

Erik Ivan James said...

I ditto Jeff, Jaye. Powerful indeed.

Bhaswati said...

You do a wonderful job of getting across the daughter's pent-up resentment. And although her angst is clearly felt, she doesn't seem to be playing the victim. Great job :)

kathie said...

Yea, Jaye...as usual you surprise me with your darkness!

Robin said...

I agree with all the comments so far. Great story!

Bernita said...

Very satisfying conclusion.

Lyn said...

Jaye, This is my first encounter with your writing. Powerful piece. At first I thought you were a male and until the pronoun I also thought the protaganist was a male (putting myself in that same mother/child reunion angst)! So Flood nails the issue and clarified the generational gifting of the lamps. Gives punch to "While beautiful, I hated them." Great line. The anger and tension builds until the end and is never over the top. Even the vulgarity is appropriate for this piece (and I'm of the school that swear words almost never have a place in good writing - call me conservatively naive :-)
Just one typo, I think: third line - 'received them as wedding gift' needs the indefinite article or make gift plural. Not to be picky. lol. Great job. Lyndon

Jaye Wells said...

Lyndon,
Good catch with the typo. Glad you liked it.

Jaye

jason evans said...

Fixed it.

Since the plural seemed to be the easier typo to make, I opted for that one.

Jaye Wells said...

Jason,

You're awesome. Thanks so much!

Jaye

jason evans said...

Jaye, I like the honesty here. Reminds me of www.postsecret.blogspot.com. Sometime people honestly do wish "loved ones" dead.

Jaye Wells said...

Thanks, Jason. I've shown this piece to several people who know me well. The most comment comment I received was "You're not going to show this to your mother are you?"

I consider it a compliment that I wrote so convincingly that they thought I was writing about myself. Of course we all bring our own experience to our writing, but I find it interesting how using the pronoun "I" can make the reader forget they're reading fiction.

And, no, I didn't show it to my mother. ;)

jason evans said...

Jaye, just to be clear, by "honesty" I meant the honesty of the character, of the human experience. I always thought it was fiction.

I agree, though. Don't show it to your mother! She probably won't understand. ;)