What a Tangled Web We Weave...

Submitted into Contest #92 in response to: End your story with a truth coming to light.... view prompt



Mother’s Day is coming soon. This particular holiday makes me feel as if I have to put on a show. A show that is completely phony. I do love my mother, but there’s things I don’t like. Growing up I saw the selfishness in her and the favoritism she displayed between me and my sisters. It was always expected that if someone had to sacrifice, be the mature one, or give in, it was me. Maybe because I was the oldest or the one who wanted to pacify each situation. I was told I was “mature” for my age. I did not know what mature meant at five years old and had to inquire among the adults.

When I was 9, the next sibling, Sybil was 7 and the youngest of the sisters, Thea was 5 years old. Our favorite game at the time was playing Jacks. We would sit outside for hours on the cement porch. My mother would yell for us to play on the side of the door. She would tell us that someone might step on a jack walking in or out of the house. For whatever reason, that very spot is where we liked to play. I think it was because it was near the steps and we could see neighbors walking by. One day it happened, someone stepped on a jack and of course, I was the mature one who should have known better. The person who stepped on the jack was my mother’s friend. She was stopping by to visit and did not notice the jacks on the ground. She had on sandals and stepped flat down on top of a jack. She had to go to the doctor’s office and get a tetanus shot. I learned that day that a tetanus shot is needed when a person punctures themselves with metal, like a rusty nail or a jack.

Something else happened when I was 9, my father passed away. It was in his sleep, that’s what my mother said. We all cried, most of us anyway.

Threesome-Beesom is what we called ourselves. I’m not sure why, I guess we couldn’t find a word that rhymed with threesome, so we made up a word. My mother had two sisters, three in all, in her family as well. I thought this was odd. Until I was 6 years old, it was my understanding that every girl had two sisters. I never thought about boys and their brothers. Me and my sisters, the Threesome-Beesom had friends mostly in school, not so much in the neighborhood. Maybe because we had each other and did not usually look for friends in our area.

Sitting at home, two weeks before Mother’s Day the phone rang. I looked at the caller i.d., it was Sybil. More than likely she wanted to know what the plans would be for the sisters to celebrate their mother.

“Hi, how are you?” she asked when I answered the phone. We had small chit chat, caught up on the current happenings when she asked, “What’re we doing for Mom?”

Being the oldest and the mature one, my sisters always depend on me to lead the holidays, events, gatherings, whatever the situation calls for. “Have you spoken to Thea? Does she have any ideas?” I ask hoping someone else is thinking about a possible plan.

“I spoke to her, but she said give her a call and let her know what we come up with,” Sybil says, passing on Thea’s message.

After ideas are suggested, the two sisters decide on brunch. Sybil asks if they can also take their mother to get a pedicure, mostly because Sybil needs one too.

When my father died, I became the mom to my little sisters. She decided that she wanted a life. We didn’t see her for two months, or at least not sober. Then she decided she was a born-again Christian and insisted we all read the bible. She even hired a teacher to talk to us about all the different books in the bible. The only one I remember today is Genesis. By the time I was 11, she started a business making macrame planter holders. It seemed she forgot all about going to church and started smoking marijuana.

I and my sisters went through many phases with my mother. She was adamant about going to Europe the summer I turned 13. She learned basic phrases in French and Italian. She never went to Europe. She reconstructed and redecorated the house at least five times during my teen years. Once, someone told her she looked like Michelle Pfeiffer and she decided to get headshots. She then enrolled herself in acting classes. She never made a movie or even a commercial. She had lots of phases and we accompanied her through each of them.

When I was 15, I met a boy. I brought him to the house to meet my mother. What I neglected to mention was, my mother was gorgeous, still is. In fact, when I was a child, I was sure she was a beautiful princess that had been abducted and somehow, she became my mother. Whenever she came to one of my school meetings, my teachers would always whisper into my ear, “is that your mother, wow”. It was almost embarrassing. When my mother met my boyfriend, I actually got jealous. He stared at her like she was a rare diamond. I can’t even blame my mother. She was only being kind and polite. I never brought boys around my house again.

I left home when I was 18. I moved in with a friend, we shared her room. I think I left because I had to get away from my mother. I was always watching over her and helping her with her next phase. I needed to escape.

It was hard to describe the relationship my mother and I had. I loved her, but never felt loved by her. It was as if we were this complicated machine, but there was a part missing and without it, we couldn’t be functioning and productive. She was the one person in the world I could not be frank with. I didn’t know how to tell her how I feel or how she hurts me. It seems that with my mother, everything I say falls out of my mouth like lead marbles. The words land on the floor and she wins again.

My sisters and I decide to meet our mother at her house to take her to brunch and a pedicure. We can’t decide which restaurant to visit, mostly because we do not know if she is vegetarian or gluton-free these days. She often changes her diet.

“Let’s just go to Tino’s, she used to love their pastas?” Thea suggested.

“I’m kind of on a diet, but I can have a salad,” Sybil conceded.

“I’ll pick you both up on Sunday, we’ll get to Mom’s by 11:00,” I make the final decision, and as usual they both agree.

On Saturday night, I call my mother to remind her of our Mother’s Day plans for her, “Mom, I’m just reminding you that me and the girls will be there on Sunday at…” I stop because it sounds like my mother is crying. I can hear the soft sobs. I can picture her trying to hold in her cries. Then I wondered, why she would even answer her phone.

“Are you okay?” I ask and completely bewildered. The last time I saw my mom cry was when our dog was put to sleep. I thought it was weird, because she didn’t cry when her mom passed away or her grandma, or even her sister.

“Can you come over?” she asks between her sniffles. Against what I believe to be a better idea, which was going to Target to peruse the aisles with a gift card that was given to me last Christmas, I agree to come over.

I don’t think of calling my sisters. I guess it’s my way of protecting them and finding out why my mother is so upset before I talk to them. Again, my maturity takes the lead.

I’m not sure what to expect when I reach my mother’s house. The first thing I notice is that the front porch light is not on. Throughout my childhood, me and my sisters knew, as soon as the sun sets, the porch light goes on. The sun set at least two hours ago.

My key is ready before I reach the first porch step. As I approach the door, the porch light turns on over my head. I look up and wonder if my mother got a sensor light, but as I near the screen, the inside door opens.

“Hi Mom, why so dramatic? The porch light eerily turns on, the door mysteriously opens…” I say almost jokingly, then I notice she’s in a robe and slippers. It looks as if she’s been in them for more than a day. Her hair is unkept, as if she hasn’t brushed it today and her eyes are red and swollen, obviously from crying. “Are you going to tell me why you look as if you’ve lost your best friend?” Now I’m getting tired of what appears to be an obvious secret and my tone is proof of how I feel.

“Sit down,” my mother points to the small couch in the living room. She sits on the bigger couch, clearly it’s where she’s been sleeping.

I sit down and try to be calm and patient by taking one deep breath and willing my body and mind to be calm to whatever my mother might say … or confess.

“While this may be a surprise, I’m sure it will answer a lot of questions you’ve had in the past,” she picks up a letter and hands it to me. “Actually, you’re pretty smart, it may not be a surprise to you at all,” she retracts her originally statement.

I take the letter and start reading. My eyes can’t believe what my brain is telling me, the words that are highlighted and now being etched in my memory: inheritance, daughter, $5,000,000, attorney, and the most important word, father. “What is this?” I ask while still holding the letter. Maybe I should take a picture of it, where’s my phone? I check my back pocket, then remember I put it in my coat, I look at the chair, where is my coat? I’m not sure what I’m doing, then I remember, I didn’t have a coat. I sit down, I think I’m feeling dizzy. My phone starts to buzz, I look towards the sound, it’s on the side table by the small couch I was sitting on.

It’s Sybil. I can’t talk right now. First I have to acclimate to the information I’ve just read.

“Explain this,” I put the letter on the table by my phone.

“I was young, Patrick never knew,” that small three-word clause said it all.

“Patrick? You mean my father?” Just say it, I think, Patrick is not my father.

“At least I hope he never knew,” she added, then continued, “Gregory Westholme, that was your father,” she finally said it.

We talked for an hour. She told me how they met. It seems that she never told him she was pregnant. Patrick would be a better provider and she knew he would be a better father, according to my mother. The two men were both vying for my mother, she thought she was doing what was best for everyone by not telling Gregory or Patrick the truth. Now both men are dead and would never know.

She was right, it did answer a lot of questions. For one, why I was so different from my sisters, another, why my mother looked at me in a distant way, as if she saw something no one else could see. For the first time, since I was able to form concrete ideas and communicate them, did I feel my mother and I were finally on common ground. I know it will take time, maybe even therapy, and with $5,000,000, I’ll be able to afford it. “Wait, if he didn’t know that I existed, how could he leave me this money?” I was thinking rationally again.

“I didn’t tell him when I was pregnant, or even when you were young. About a year ago I contacted him. I found out from a friend that he’d done well and wasn’t living far,” she shrugged, “maybe I should have given him more credit,” she flashed a small smile. “He was already married and had a family. He didn’t want to disrupt the life he’d built. I sent him pictures of you. I wanted to tell you the truth, I swear I asked him for nothing but didn’t want you to think badly of him. You had Patrick as your memory of a father. I thought it best to leave it alone, then this letter came,” she looked at the piece of paper sitting on the table. “And that box,” she pointed to a small box sitting by the door.

I walked over and opened the box. It looked like journals, there were three of them. They were all filled out in long hand, very legible, which would make it easy to read. “Are these Gregory’s?” I just couldn’t call him my father.

My mother nodded, “I just glanced through the books, but that’s what it looked like to me,” she answered.

“I guess I have reading to do,” we both sat quietly, she on her big couch, me on the smaller one. “Why have you been crying? For him, or me? Why? I rarely see you cry” I asked.

“I think for time lost and maybe I was worried I would lose you,” she confided.

I’ve never seen my mother cry for a man or anyone, so I’m going to take it as a sign that she really does love me. I took the books, the letter and I said good night. Tomorrow will be a difficult day to get through. I don’t think I’m ready to tell my sisters yet, especially not on Mother’s Day. Right now, I’m not sure how I feel, I only know it will be one day at a time.

May 07, 2021 06:32

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