Mark Jason Williams and his mom often butted heads on two issues: She was uncomfortable when he brought up anything about being gay, and he was tired of her incessantly talking about how he survived childhood cancer.
By the age of 40, Mark had reached his wit’s end. He stopped pleading for her to change and instead proposed a $100 bet. But the real change in their relationship came when Mark broke his end of the bargain. Today, Mark and his mother, Betty Williams, tell their story.
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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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with little moments where you say the wrong thing, but you're not listening closely in this distance creeps in and then one day you're sitting across my dinner and they feel so far away and you're thinking. How do we get here? jason Williams. What an essay about his relationship with his mom betty mark was very soon as a kid you would do painful medical care- yours and long hospital stays and his mom was there for all of it. They became inseparable, but his mark got older. That distance crept in until finally, he couldn't take it anymore, so he did think about it that raise the city, of their relationship. This is modern love. mark jason Williams, welcomed modern love. Thank you. It's an honor privilege to be here so you.
An essay about your relationship with your mom. Can you read the beginning for me, turn Why aren't you eating my mother said to me her? Yet girls, acts and blared into that hush. Chinese restaurant, my mom, is Seventy seven year old, italian american hairdresser believes that almost all problems can be solved with a pile of spaghetti in me both to her my lack of appetite. Was a warning flare, I'm fine and I said my sesame chicken just hasn't pepper flavour She flag down, waiter. She said my son can't have spices because of his leukemia though I had survived cancer as a young boy. I now Dying of embarrassment, I'm forty so amused
my mother's over protective nurse, from an early age. I understood that ass, her youngest child of four and the one to endure a life threatening condition. She, and I would always be bound by love and fear, love in feed. that such an intense combination, you were diagnosed with cancer. What do you remember about that? How old were you? I was five superman. I remember the smell of robbing alcohol, and I remember the squeaky footsteps on linoleum I remember being obsessed with super here and there s a superhero ice man, and I thought, if I like, stirred next to the cold air of the hospital coming in. I can turn into iceman and break myself out of the hospital, oh Remember being curl,
into a ball and having a neutral jammed into my spine for these spinal taps, which, to this day or the most painful thing I've ever experienced in my life and I remember my mom was one who was there, she would pretzel herself endless chair every night, that's where she won't. She was with you, what are some ways that she tried to make the hospital feel a little Com, I complained about the sheets being to stuff and itchy. That's all. I need to say before she had some one go home and get my sheets and my pillow from home that allowed us, then, with with her in very, was gonna, be allowed. Whether community is your mom yeah, she was my mom, but also She was my advocate. He was my friend she was. My company
I mean it really was my mom and me as a two person, cancer squat at two percent cancer squad did that to pressing a squad, did it continue after your treatment ended she and her opinion. Yes, I was becoming. He major and didn't wanna be glued to the help with mamma. I can understand that. Tell me, as you be a teenager. How did you start to think about that period of your life in the hospital older? I got the more. I wanted to put it behind me. In my mind. If we talked about it, you would get upset an idea. have the mental capacity to see her upset anymore. I was tired. She had done so much to protect me, and I felt this immense me
to pay her back. Like you owed her something I did. I felt like. I wrote her a lot and I felt lake. Bringing my feelings to her was either are gonna, make her sad and that would make me feel guilty. or stir up a lot of emotions and me that I didn't quite want to deal with any more. Would your mom bring up your cancer to you in your teenage years? She would frequently wow. Why did you think she was doing that in retrospect? I think she was doing it, because it's something that bonded us who and I was trying to run off my own direction and bringing my Answer was reeling me back again because when I was thirteen fourteen fifteen, it's like what else did we have in common yad? Do you recall a specific moment? She did that.
I remember, vividly like one of them, younger cousins had a cold and my mom say, oh well, when mark had cancer week, she would bring it up unprompted and in virtually wow any situation, so it my kid has called when mark had cancer area from cold to consecrate. she would bring it up to total strangers, and that went on for decades. Braid, like in the part of your essay that you read at the chinese restaurant with it, or chicken you're forty years old, and telling the waiter about your cancer, but if your mom, people about your cancer all the time. What was different about this time? in a moment I thought. Okay, if anything ever goes wrong in my life, is gonna, be because of my cancer, I knew and understood that she was being there
talked over italian mom? I didn't want it. If something is spicy, it shall spicy like it. It had nothing to do. My childhood signals now and I fell annoyed and then he fell. was very embarrassing and I felt like she had not been respectful of my privacy. I needed to figure out a way to break the cycle that I had endured since I was a cab and didn't wanna endorse any more, and I thought she is not responding to me telling her. How I feel She's not responding to me throwing and adult temper tantrum and asking her to start bringing up my cancer, so what if I went about it more playfully that she loved her weekly trips, the casino and I knew that she loved slot
genes and fun and games, and so or what, if we make it a fund that maybe that'll work, so we bear each other a hundred dollars and the terms were? She can talk about my childhood cancer and I bring out being gay or flirt with guys in front of her If she couldn't talk about your sickness and you wouldn't talk about men. Yes, were you out to your mother? Yes, okay, but she hadn't quite made sense of it. What do you mean by that? She didn't seem comfortable. If I talked about my sexuality, she sort of gave this forced smile and turned her head ever so
at least so that she wasn't facing me and her head kind of shook a little bird did, you feel judged, I didn't feel judge. No. I just felt like this was a sight of me that she- need time to fully understand in her baby who had who had fought for his life. He had had always The govs now had another one and she didn't know how to protect me. Ok, so your mom is not comfortable. Talking about you being gay and you are not comfortable with her constantly bringing up your cancer, so this bet is a hundred dollars, basically on who can hold out on who can not bring up these
was that are really important to each of you correct and your kind of silencing each other yeah. My goal was to start making each other uncomfortable you propose this bed, what did your mom do De Betty's eyes light up because she's a gambling woman? How did she react? She was lecture what to do a while ago There was absolutely no hesitation, interesting. We surprised me. Yes, why I thought it was gonna, be an immense challenge for her not bring up my cancer and charming saying shore to shut me up in the restaurant and that she was immediately gonna lose and was it hard how could you sense how difficult for her, did not bring up your cancer. Yes, really like. I you don't cartoon were characters like
really quiet and they have the smoke coming out of her ears. That's what it looked like to me. Do you remember a specific instance where you could see her almost bring it up and then now yeah we were at a family, hardy and my uncle told everybody had prostate him, This is where your mama jump right. She like a shark would have jumped in and talk all about it. She did not work was a hard for you to keep up your end. The margin no I met Michael ok, till you met Michael, tell me about Michael. I had never been in love before meeting him, but I knew after two months I liked him more than I'd. Like any other person. Did you wanna tell your mom about him? Yes, I mean you were, so determined to win this bed do not bring up boy, is in your love life? So how did you finally tell her so-
well my mom and I were at costco and like as she's like, dumping, pounds and pounds like frozen waffles into my card at pasco. I saw two guys shopping ordinary stuff. and I realize that the perfect scenario- It would have been michael with us and and going shopping with us. I cassio on a route in sunday morning, because the small parts of life you're the most important and that would have been a moment where the two I feel like would have gotten along very well, and I just or does it out, because I couldn't contain it anymore. What did you say? I said there is this guy named Michael and he has a really cute poodle and he's a public health professor.
I really like I am, and I want you to meet him what'd. She say back Jakarta gave me an ok. You know and she's. Like ok, you know where's my hundred bucks. She did bring it up and she said I have not seen you those happy. What was your response? What did you do? I have this giant smile on my face, I just wanted to give her hug, because I understood that it was the beginning of getting back to that two persons. One That we have had and so long and I had caught her out of that part of my life, because I don't think that she
I handle her, but I never gave her that I never really gave her the chance and in the few months where we had the bat, I had also deprived her of talking about something that was really important to her, it was an unfair ask. Why was it unfair to stop her from talking about your cancer because she is someone who likes to process her feelings brew hours and hours of conversation and I didn't denies that she still need to talk about it. All easier she hadn't killed from it. She was she Heaven help she hadn't healed from an me asking her not bring up much out signals. Were is taking away something that she relied on to continue to heal from it
it was her starting to yes, it was definitely dorias one is, if you like the squads back together, I do feel like were squat again. I do like there is no need to censor feelings were hide, That's important in our life anymore and. I think a lot of that actually has to do with Michael, because I feel like given my history as a secured like she always felt like I needed to be taken care of. One of her fears was for it's not going to be her who's, it gonna tell me about the first time Michael met betty, so the first time mike on very man, was at Michael's apart.
Michael was very nervous because he wanted to make italian food, but he was a little bit frightened that he wouldn't past the betty italian task for nerve racking around. So he told very when she arrived that he was making chicken franchise, but would like her help and input in the kitchen when it Betty say she be line to that kitchen. and immediately started talking about how she makes it in her own recipes and do this with the again sausage this way in and Michael, was a total sport about it. When you
in the kitchen, and you saw your mom and your boyfriend. How did that feel? It felt like a wound had just been closed. It was the most comforting image in my. life, because there is no more hiding anything. It could have bungled that moment just looked at it over and over, I probably would have They sound like a real character. He sounds like someone I actually gonna have to talk to you. It's really important what if we called her right now, I think that's an excellently.
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and why times, dotcom, slash, modern love survey and thank you. Hmm. hello I'm here with animal hi, hi buddy I hold out one second, just let me go into the other world. Ok, please. Where are you better, you in home now now now I'm out right now, but I can take the thank you for thank you. Where are you? Are you in Cassio features very heavily in denmark story now in madagascar today and then Heaven had taught today. There wasn't anything for you today yet so I just talk with mark. And martyrs guide me about the first time. Met, Michael you, whenever today,
Michael's apartment any cook to chicken franchises, yes, which those catholic, a bold move to cook chicken franchise, an italian mom. Yes, exactly right, I have to say yes an awesome cookie now that he did very well with it. No way, are you being honest, was near you being very kind? No, no. No Michael Michael, is a good cook. You know maybe one or two things: have you got a lot of effort? I need like certain vegetables which he gets more to eat. Is that true monk. I didn't really miles before my god. Are you serious? So he was not a vegetable. You kid mark what now, oh, my god, how incredibly mark of mark work at a very sensitive palette mark only like the boy said, bologna and boy. He knew the difference when it came to the bologna x x, in addition to making marquise dutch was what are some other ways betty that you see Michael
Care for mark should have said. Michael is very. How would I put it accommodating tomorrow, because you know with his writing and everything, it's really nice to have somebody to stand behind you not to say. Oh, that's enough, you know which I have a real job, and this is my stream, and I am happy that his dream is coming true. And I think one of the ways that she really saw michael take care of me- was when my dad was sick cause. He was always there for us in that time period. Yeah biddy, I mean if you are able to go into it. If you want to go into it. What was that kind of support from Michael like for you? Ah well like mark said Michael? Was there like he would take back to the house to give walk any support. He needed Michael, even went out and went to the store and bought the sandwiches for everybody, so ever body could be comfortable, have something to eat
and he was barks rock, but he. How does it feel to know that your son is so well taken care of? It makes me very very happy because I don't have to worry. As you know, I don't know if mark georgia from when he was small, how he had leukemia, and it was my responsibility and his dad's responsibility to watch over him and I'm happy that he's in the hands of somebody very capable to love him and to give him all the support he needs in his life. Do you talk about mark's cancer to other people? Now, then? What might be an occasion here or there, where I might mentioned it? Ah yeah? I I think that I probably still
Well, I think the market's a little annoyed with it, but sometimes I guess it just comes out because I'm proud of the fact that he he made it through that he's forty five years old and he he's keough cured and he's a miracle as far as I'm concerned because they were recorded there. You know they were kids teasing him at the time and he couldn't play sport. So we tried to compensate other ways, and I guess I did I did mention it, but I I try not to talk about it too much. I just thank god that he's alive and he survived Your proud of him, he said very, very proud of him, absolutely in I'm. Looking at your son right now, as you say that, and his He smiling. How does it feel I now
it feel to hear mom say that it feels great. I mean, I think, no matter what any person says. I think they always want approval and pride from the people that they love the most. So it makes me really happy to hear that by the way, Betty? Yes, I heard you one hundred dollars from the bed. Yes, I did what do with that money gave it back to mark we really? After all that time you one, you just gave him the cache, of course still
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Transcript generated on 2023-03-25.