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Downey, California [1971]

I am three years old
and my mother
has left my father
She’s taken me with her.

I don’t remember
Our going
Our arriving
Our leaving


The day we returned to our green stucco house
Returned to my father

I only remember
Being there.
We stay in a trailer
Shaped like a bean.
It is tiny, my mother, independent.
I wonder where we’ll sleep.

What an adventure!

We walk across a gravel parking lot
To a stall of showers
It is quiet and warm
And my mother and I are wet and naked

I am as happy as I ever remember being

My mother
[She is 37]
Puts on a robe
And wraps me in a towel
And drapes another one
Over my head like Mary
[from the Christmas play]
I am elated!

I have miraculously entered the world
Soft, pink and perfect
Of the baby on the Downey bottle
[The empty bottle of Downey
That sits on the dryer in
Hacienda Heights]

I frequently asked
What was in that bottle
But nobody could ever tell me

Now, I am in that bottle
Where I love to be

Naked as the day
I was born
I am in my mother’s arms

I am three and I never want to leave
I have my mother all to myself


I am sitting in a room on the 6th floor of
A small hospital in Oklahoma City.
It is what it is.

We miss the hospital
Where she has been
Cracked open
During half a dozen or more stays.

My mother [she is 76] has pneumonia
I remember
The medics always said
Pneumonia can be fatal in the elderly

My mother is elderly?

My mother is elderly.

She is sick for days
I watch her rest

Once again
I have my mother all to myself

The days stretch into weeks
And, damn the dry cough

I sign her up for an art class
And invite her to open swim at the Y.
We’ll wrap ourselves in white towels again
I never want to leave [I am 43]


Lately, I awake at 3 a.m.
With an elephant standing on my chest
I need to have my annual mammogram
And, I am [five years] behind in scrapbooking
My anticipated social security earnings are going down
Not up
And, I grow wide-eyed at the thought
One day my mother will leave me

How can I live half my life without my mother?
Why do our mothers have to leave us?
Who made room for such an insane notion?

Nobody will ever be your mother.
And, I live in a green stucco house.
I couldn’t have planned this if I’d tried.


It is winter at
Y pool
[As Sully calls it]
I hold Bridgy [she is three] in my arms
And we twirl around in the water
I am aware of the generations of love
Flowing through me
We shower together
And I wrap her in white towels
She is as happy as she has ever been

And my mother never leaves us
Will never leave us

Photo by dreaming_of_rivers via Flickr with Creative Commons License


Gen X Blog Jennifer Chronicles

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  1. le@thirdontheright

    wow jen 🙂 le xox

  2. jen

    @T.R. – You help me believe in myself. =( Thank you!

    @LIN – Thank you for helping me piece my memories together. I couldn’t remember if you’d said it was Downey, CA., but it fit just the same.

  3. T.R.

    It’s time for your book – you are one of Oklahoma’s best (best writer – best everything). You are the reason God made Oklahoma!

  4. Lin

    I love this. I remember.

    Love, Lin

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