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The Moth Radio Hour: Shipwrecks and Complicated Mothers

2019-09-10 | 🔗

A young woman is told to keep her heritage a secret...by her mother; a reckless partier gets shipwrecked and has to sober up enough to save the day; and an author contends with her unsupportive mother on her deathbed. Hosted by The Moth’s Executive Producer, Sarah Austin Jenness. The Moth Radio Houris produced by The Moth and Jay Allison of Atlantic Public Media.

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
The country are ex. This is the moth radio, our I'm Sarah asked engineers producing director of the moth and I'll, be your house this time. The month is true. Story is told, you doubt notes in front of the live audience. We have three where is this our one, the lengths you'll go in your shipwrecked on a deserted island. Penicillin worry about a well placed moat in pit australia and our first story from june cross. june is a journalist, a documentary, film maker and she's, a professor at columbia university. She grew up in the sixties, trying to balance with her feet into different. She told her story at a moth night called walk the line here
june live the them every family has secrets in my family. The secret was me. I was secret because I was black, These days you'd say I was by racial, but fifty seven you were born. There was no by racial. You were either black or you were born white end of story The mother was a farm girl from pocatello, idaho who'd come to new york to seek her fame and fortune. Here on the big stage she met my dad, who was a performer from philadelphia. He was part of a duo called stump and stumpy had been popping
they're in the forties they met backstage at the paramount theatre in pretty much became constant companions for the next five years, and here I am, but As the fifties progressed, my dad's career began to go downhill and, as his career began to go downhill suited his life and he drank more and more. and the more I drank the angrier he got and in some kind of twisted sort of vision, he thought that if he beat my mother long enough, she'd stay with them. My mother had sunk, pretty low, but she had sunk so low that she was willing to stay with a man who beat her every day. So sooner or later she got up. I was about eighteen months old. She left him and we moved into another apartment on the upper west side of manhattan. and that's where I lived with her for the next four or five years. But there is one problem she had left sheet
the courage to get into a relationship with a black man, but she didn't have the courage to raise this child. Look like me, who was me. and so she began to leave me for periods of time with a friend of hers in atlantic city. New jersey was a couple that she called pegging Paul and whom I would come to call on peggy an uncle Paul and would go and I would stay with them for a period of time. And gradually one day it was about a week before I would have started my first day of school. She left me there and never came back to new york and see Oh the way it worked with this, I would go to school monday through friday in atlantic city, and then on school vacations or breaks. I would come visit my mom here in new york and I really live to lie. I lived a life
where I liked it lived when I was with my mom, the life where I liked perry Como, and the beatles and barbara streisand, and then, when I was in atlantic city, I lived a life where I liked the four tops and james brown. That sort of way life went on peggy was a very strict discipline, ariane, she thought that my mother had been way too lenient with me, which mom had been. There was no structure and moms house. When I I've been living city, mom, Peggy, had structure. If you could imagine trying to live with two mothers having one It's bad enough! Here I had to in very strict one and one who was actually very demanding. My mom was very demanding, but when I would go to visit my mother on weekends, there was absolutely no structure. We would leave the port authority go out head out to the rotisserie chicken place across the street from port authority.
pick up, a chicken go home, eat dinner at eleven thirty at night, stay open watch. Whatever was on television as long as I wanted until I fell asleep and then the next day We would get up. Go to Matinee, usually on broadway, we might go to a second one on Saturday night and then too, whatever we could watch on sunday mentally, is well before I got back on the bus and went to atlantic city went back to atlantic city. It was almost like. I used to like in it to crossing the razor blade, and if I crossed it carefully, it would scrape instead of cut. Six years went by in this fashion and gradually she began to data their men and finally, she began dating comic and characteristic term. Some of you may know he does larry storage. He became- corporal acorn in the series F troop in the sixties:
Mom was elated that she'd finally found a man and thought she was finally going to be able to actually get him to marry her, which had been the driving force of her life. It had become. Mrs somebody one night, one day, while I was here one weekend, while I was here in new york, she threw a party for Larry and his family and the managing agent, and she asked me to play a game with her. And the game was call her aunt norma. During the entire period of this party. being eight years old and not knowing really what she was asking me to do. I said fine, I well, and I did, but it's point during the evening, the adults Started giving me champagne being a showbiz crowd, it was nice or it was sort of cute to see a assorted tipsy eight year old, running around the house, and I slept and I
mom, and she snatched me and dragged me into the bathroom and really her face was so contorted with. Thought then was anger, but what I now know was fear she said. Don't you ever call me mommy in front of people like this? Don't ever call me in front of larry's. Family he'll be pay we'll disown him and will lose everything. and I hope my head not knowing quite what I had done, and I said yes on Norma. I won't. And I went back to atlantic city and I told aunt peggy and uncle Paul about this, and they were horrified and then, several months later, when mom called to say that she was going to become mrs larry storage, that her dream was finally going to be fulfilled. I was little elated as she was. I was jumping all around the house. Oh I'm going to be the child, the daughter of a star tumor of us, and we hung up the phone and on peggy pulled me aside and said not so fast.
You need to make sure that you never tell anybody that your mom is married to Larry Stewart. If it's found out that that, You know he's married to a woman that had a black child. His entire career could go south they'll cancel the show that it is in all those ballet, classes and tap dance classes and swimming lessons and piano lessons in the summer camp that you love little all disappear. Trying to get me to understand the economic price of being black in this country, which, during the sixties was still pretty severe and frankly, is still is In nineteen sixty according to the senses, something like twenty five, there were only twenty five black millionaires in the united states of america, which is an amazing thought to think about. And so the money that she and Paul got to help raise me was really important in our family.
So I learned that I was just going to be black and I was fine with that. By the time I had reached com, I was blacker than now. We got to the sixties, remember. I'm growing up at the same time that the country is going through the vietnam war crisis and the and african americans the whole or sort of reaching the point where we sort of had it. This is the period when cash, Clay beat sonny liston and changed his name to muhammad ali. It's the period when stokely carmichael invented the phrase black power, and I went to work with the black panther program, as you know, serve breakfast in atlanta, the new jersey I sold the papers as long as I'm peggy would. Let me she found out about that, but the combash on that pretty fast. And by the time I got to school, I was sort of really determined that
he's going to live my life. As a black woman, there was a group on campus of multiracial students. There was a multiracial, I think they call themselves the multiracial students harvard students so. Why is there something like this and I refuse to join them because I didn't want to have anything to do with being multi racial? If I was multi racial. Why had I just live this entire painful existence that I've been growing up with. And sure enough. I chose my side and then, in november of that year, my freshman year, my mother, calls me she's having her fiftieth birthday party, she's decided to have it in LAS vegas, now as a card carrying member of the black panther party in an avowed socialist at the time, las Vegas was a counter revolutionary act. figure out what I was going to do. Had raised made always do what my parents told me to do so. Mom was turning fifty and she wanted me.
Come to las vegas, I was going to figure out a way to go to las vegas, but I went to las vegas on my terms. I had this big afro. That was like. You no bigger than Angela Davis Some of you remember the roberta flax first album. I had a. Leather miniskirt and my leather high he'll boots and my fishnet stockings and arrived at caesar's palace in las vegas to a sea of white folks wherein chiffon an indian and curl turquoise. Jewelry And I didn't want to have anything to do with them, but there I was with my mom and with Larry she was wearing a ralph Lauren original navy blue rayon long gown and a white feathered headdress looking gorgeous as she always
and she wanted to go see johnny cash for fiftieth birthday. Now, black folks, don't listen to country music in atlantic city, new jersey So this really wasn't happening for me, I was like johnny cash. Are you serious? So we go to we I had to go. Could she was going so. We go and we're sitting in the grand ball almost caesar's palace, which I think at the time was largest place? I'd ever been in it was just huge larry looks around and all of a sudden, he he's a heavyweight champion of the world mahomedan lessening few tables way. And we get up and we go to meet muhammad ali muhammad ali. At that time he was still a heavy she was still in shape. He was biggest man. I have ever met huge just he was like it was like meeting the berlin wall. he put his hand out the shake mine and I felt like a six year old, my hand just disappeared inside of is that
it looked around. I'm seeing he- and I are probably the only black folks in the grand ballroom of caesars palace, so I decided that I was going to rhythm a little bit cause. I was so shy that that was the only thing I could do is use laughter to try to get out of the situation, so is said, a champ, How come you- and I are the only black people in here- get many listen, the johnny cash. He says to me girl, I'm from Louisville Kentucky where I came from there's a whole lot of black people. Listen to country music I sort of put a damper on my. You know my revolutionary, my revolutionary fervor and I go and I sit down and I'm listening to johnny cash begins to play. I'd never really listened to johnny cash. I didn't realize the degree of talent, the degree of emotion that the man brought forth from the from an acoustic guitar in his voice. And ass he sang the song. It was almost a try me
actually that, as he sang the song, I walk the line felt like he was thinking to me. I felt like he was describing my entire life grown up in a world where my friends were either black or white, where my family was either black or white. Where I list It's, the music that was identified as music, that black people listen to or his music, that white people listen to address the way I thought black people should dress. I talk the way I thought black people should talk, but that night, the champ and johnny cash taught me lesson. The lesson was that maybe I could balance myself on that razor and walk the line and have the people that I loved and the things that I like the on both sides in me and not have to choose.
Thank you that was jean pass. You wrote a memoir and produce an autobiographical film about for dual identity, but she told me that working on this month story was one of the hardest thing she's done. She said it was physically exhausting and she took between story rehearsals? She said in my book: greetings you have the safety of the written word to hide behind to tell if you actually have to come often behind that shelter
I keep my eyes wide open all the time he bans up for the fun fun fun and I've been very, very used to be the moth radio hour is produced by atlantic public media woods, hole massachusetts and presented by the public radio exchange pr x. Dot and now a word from our sponsor better help. Life can be overwhelming and many p, Well, I burned out even without knowing it symptoms can include a lack of motivation.
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This is the moth radio, our from Pierre ex I'm sarah stinginess, our next. It is for miss gosh valley, he's a musician and after living out of a tour bus four year, playing with a stroke. for years. In the december s, Misha showed up at the mall stories lands, he told the shorter version of the story you're about to hear at a slam. He didn't win, but we delicate with him for many years discussion I live. I was fast asleep. On the disaster struck we hit with a deep tearing crash of such this day, violence, I've I felt the entire boat shot or under me like a wounded animal. I tried to jump out of my body, but the boat flopped over on its side through me against the wall and back into my bank in a cabin filled with noise. I can hear boards twist.
Squealing against each other. I could hear the bold grinding against the rocks. I could hear the crew yelling and shouting questions. I I I knew I defined. John captain peters, eighty, nine year old father and he wasn't in the bunk across from me, and he wasn't on the floor so he had to be in the in the front bunk. I called his name twice and he didn't respond. So I carefully climbed out of my bunk and move forward into the darkness, deeper into the ruin boat spring of two thousand one. I just graduated college, my friend Jacob, had you shot his final speed ball and died on his kitchen floor and my drinking with spiralling out of
I I've been working with Jacob to try and keep him clean, even as I was drinking and class by drinking before class in the mornings, you're, just a medicinal amount to get rid of the shakes and the chills and, and then After we graduated, we played phone tag and and lost touch. He was trying keep normal ours and I was still chapter eight a m drinking and doing cope. I I didn't have a cell phone at the time, just a crappy pager and the day after he died, my pager deliver to voicemail from the other side Hey. What's our man, it's jake, just just trying to catch up with you all I'll talk to you. So I remember sitting in my kitchen table three things straight from the bottle playing that message over and over again searching for a clue, an explanation, a reason.
I wanted to die, but my mother had explicitly forbidden suicide, so jumped at the chance to crew on a dangerous sailing trip from the dominican republic up to florida. I thought it was a good compromise when it when I got to John spoke out a shaft of light came through one of the scupper holes in it. I saw a tangle of limbs like a pile of firewood and my heart dropped reached out and grab something. John. I said yes, peters far I had slept through the entire thing set. Several several equipment failures, a navigational error and a storm have put us on the uninhabited point of an island in the bahamas. In the middle of the night we got may safely on shore, but it was a bleak seen: captain peters boat, his life
its work in his home in the last twenty years, ruin on the rocks and the five I was stranded there with limited limited amount of water and nobody knew we were in trouble. We shot off flares and radioed for help and then, when nobody came, we just got wasted on some red wine and passed out the beach peter, woke me in the morning when the sun rose, he had been there several years earlier and he knew Matthew town. The island's lone settlement was a short twenty five miles away, so he was going to hike that twenty five miles to go and get help. I think I surprised both of us by saying that I would go up miss guy, I'm the captain. The captain always stays with the ship. it's my responsibility. Your responsibility is here with the ship. I can't let you go. Do
whenever I say something serious, I have to preface it with dude dude, no offense, but you're old, and you have parkinson's and you have a family, I'm younger and faster stronger and I'm expendable. I'm going. I took my share of the water one gallon some peanuts and a couple of multi vitamins. My mother had forced on me before I left. I say if I'm not backed by this time tomorrow, send someone else. The beach was littered with trash and right away. I found a a hard hat, so I ripped up the rotting webbing out of it and put it on my head backwards to protect my head of my neck from this I been wearing a t, shirt, shorts and running shoes when the boat wrecked, but dumb they'd organs So I was wearing a long sleeved white button down my box or shorts
In the final humiliation, socks and sandals, ladies the shoreline unfolding in a series of deep cove. So I found myself covering twice the ground I wanted to and for what rolling through several mangrove swamps. I decided we just be easier to eat or to walk point to point it through the shallow water, but I knew I had to be careful as if I twisted an angle or something they just be finding my bones years later,. I mean I knew there were sharks. We didn't fishing off the back of the boat opponents. You like every other fishing. We caught. We lost sharks. You have something on the line and then all of a sudden it would go slack and you'd pull up a huge fish had just gushing blood, and you can tell from the bite radius that it wasn't a little shark.
but that was out at sea, and so so I took off my sandals and I took off my socks and then in less than two feet. Water, I want to say it was a twelve like maybe twelve feet. It was probably seven feet, but that still a pretty fucking bitch. Short term, nepal, on when you're walking into the water they gotta was dead, just breaking with the motion of the waves, but if it was dead than why couldn't I smell it, so I took a rock and to retract it. It found the sharp on the back, its thrashed wildly and then headed out for deeper water. So I decided to stick to the shore after that. I took a couple multi vitamins and a handful of peanuts to get over. There hang over and but it it it just, maybe thirsty or so I didn't eat anything else after that and.
I mean I was already starting incredibly dehydrated and in even the holding off drinking until like my throat was parts to my lips were dry. I was already like down to have: my water, before I knew it and there was no place to stop and rest. There was no shade, you know I would just I would be cooked, and so I you know I I going as my as my water diminished, in my condition, degraded I made Several of these murky calculations, I knew that each step I took brought me closer to Matthew town in each. There also used awesome. My dwindling energy and brought me closer to zero. Now
I knew I made significant progress because I'd been walking for a while. I didn't have a watch, so I didn't know how long I'd been walking but either way my water was getting incredibly low and- and I knew that, regardless of what my destination was salvation or the other thing but I was getting closer as the as my sunstroke kicked in I laughed I sang I talked to myself. I I started to confuse shadows with water, so I wouldn't walk right. What walk wide around a puddle only to walk through a shadow that somehow got my feet. Wet and the noise I heard it was. It was my my breath- or it was the wind nor the waves. It was
It was a woman's voice, cooing in my ear, with several women laughing at me. It was a crowd cheering for me or booing me. It was a boat. Was an entire fleet of boats coming to my rescue. I I wanted to be test on this trip to see what I could do if I could do anything, but I was ready for it to be I am, I approached the boy to one of those endless coves. Then I wheeled Matthew town, to appear on the other side. You. a crappy little gas station hostile locals understaffed. Price grocery store melting popsicles. But when I came around the corner there was just sand and sea and mangroves. And fell on my face in the sand and I cried, I was
twenty four years old. And what did I don't want? My life? I calculated lee drank as much as I could get away with at my job without getting fired, I had sponged unconscionable amounts of coke offer friends and strangers. I have repeatedly cheated on my girlfriend and abandoned my friend Jacob in his time of need, as you like I'd say. All my time either jerking off or hung over or jerking off, while hung over and now I was going to die here alone. And this sun bleached rock my life almost completely on lived. I cried for the songs that that I've written but not recorded, and now people wouldn't remember before, and I cried for all the fucked up shit that I had done. That now would be the only thing that people would remember me for. I cried because I was never going to see my mother's hands again
so sitting in the sand. Stirring up the sky, I made one last desperate calculation. The sun was directly overhead. so worst case scenario I may be covered only fifty years, Sixteen miles, which meant I ten miles to go. I had about a cup of water left and my body was shutting down now. I read all those corny macho survival books. They say you can survive by drink, your own p. held it all day long, but I knew I couldn't hold it for much longer. So the Moment of truth preserve my dignity. And pee in the sand and lose all that moisture. When I maybe had ten miles to go or recycle it and maybe live to tell the fucked up story.
It's funny, you know it's only when you're facing death that your filthy truck, stop bathroom of a life becomes, precious tee. I thought about my friend Jacob and I thought about that last fix that he talk and you know I wondered like did. He know that something was going wrong. Did he see his death naked late Out in front of him, like, I saw mine and was scared I was scared shitless, but I knew that people were counting on me. I knew that you are enjoying the rest of the crew. They were depending on me and I thought of the looks on their faces when they saw me on the deck of a coastguard caught her going in to rescue them. So I took off my concern. She helmet and I only issued a hot bladder full of brown multi vitamin enriched urine. I mean
glowed like it was radioactive, shaking hands I lifted the home to my lips shoot down as much of my own heart, salty p, as I could stomach without pure and entered a couple of times, any desperate six of the water that I had left just watch the taste out of my mouth. Now I don't know if you ve ever try to drink out of a punch. But it's not an entirely efficient process, so it was like dribbling out of the corners of my mouth and like off. It was a poor show, but you know- after the wave of noise. Your past, I felt great It's the ten miles twenty miles fifty miles, I didn't care a drink, my p, how would it took the survive and I was going to make it home
Less than five minutes later I was rescued. A group of biologist were out banding turtles and this is the last day of their study and because it was the fourth of July. They almost didn't come out. peters estimate had been wrong and I walked thirty miles and I was still twenty five miles away from civilization. So when they brought me the coastguard station, I told the coastguard writer Listen. We got for american sailor shipwrecked on the northernmost point of the island. There's one of them is Eighty nine and two of them require medication almost instantly. I could hear a helicopter starting up and it sounded also
just then call came in from the bohemian defence patrol. They had just picked up for ship sailors on the northernmost point of the island and they had sent one of their group off to go and get help and he'd never been picked up and they wanted the coastguard to get a helicopter. The dispatcher looked at gave me a funny look and spoke into his radio. I think we got them. They got me a shower. They gave me this t shirt. one guy made me a sandwich Two slices of white wonder bread, one piece of bologna, one piece of american cheese, yellow mustard and lots of mayonnaise. It was the best sandwich. I've ever tasted.
so it turned out in about an hour after after periods had sent me off. You realise that the force the impact had disconnected the intent or from the radio, so he fixed the radio radioed for help got the bohemian defence patrol right away. They say for hours So I got shipwrecked walked thirty miles in the blazing hot sun a drink. p, and all I got was this lousy t shirt In no way am I a hero, I couldn't save Jacob and I didn't see peter or John or the rest of the crew, but I save myself
And I guess that's gotta be enough, that was me species Mishkin. It tell me a story wherever he went one night he got into a it and the driver said I know you Misha said I don't think so, and the cabbie said yeah, you got shipwrecked, you told me, destroy the last time you were in my cab. We. Commissioner, what it was like to craft the full story with them off the thing about the model they're all true story. So the more you learn about how to tell a story in the more you learn about your own story, the more you learn about yourself and your own experience in how you perceive the world and how how you perceive your friends in your family and why you, Forgive that person that you should have been. You didn't punch out that guy that you should
it really sort of made the for me, the the moth experience made my my story explode in slow motion. I could see every little part of it to hear mission as original slam story and see photos of the ship that wrecked visitor. website them off While you're there, you can pitch a story of your own log onto them. org to record your pitch right on the web, or you can call our pitch hotline at eight. Seven seven thousand seven hundred and ninety nine moth, that's eight hundred and seventy seven, seven hundred and ninety nine six thousand six hundred and eighty four, and you'll have about a minute to hook us when we come back. a woman tells a story endless competition with her mother. The moth radio hours produced by atlantic public media, in which all massachusetts and presented by the public,
video exchange, Pierre ex dot org this the moth radio, our from Pierre ex I'm sarah stinginess producing director of them off back in two thousand and nine, the moth travel to australia to produce a show for the perth international arts festival. The thirty six hour commute was well worth it, and one of the local story we found is up next here. Susan duncan live on. a story about my mother. It's very hard to stand up to your parents, and it took me until I was about forty nine to actually site my mother well, actually just set up to her. It was christmas and she was staying with me as she stayed with me for the past. Thirty years at christmas
And I just had a breast removed and my lover had dumped me and I told her this- she knew about the breast, but she never knew about the lava because he was fairly inappropriate, and she looked a man. She civil men, don't like mutilation, and I was I didn't Y know what she meant for about two minutes: and then when I realized what she'd men I was so enraged. I said this is the last time you ll be spending christmas under my roof we got through christmas. I took a home to her home at the foot of the blue mountains and I returned to my home. Which was an idyllic little tin check on the edge of pit water
the only way home is by part and it's on the back of the korean guy chase national park, a beautiful physical world, a place where I felt at peace over the next twelve months. Of course, I spoke to my mother that christmas rolled around again and I couldn't quite ban her from lunch, but I banned her from the house. I said you're not staying with me. You can come but you're not staying, so I booked her into a hotel, nearby hotel just a sort of short boat journey away. She had lunch. We got through that no blot on the walls pretty good, and I went to pick up on the fourth morning to take home again to harm at the foot of the blue mountains and she was, waiting for me in the form of the hotel and she was beautifully dressed ass. She always is.
Because, as she's told me all my life, she actually did look like jean harlow as a young woman, although she didn't really think Jean Harlow was particularly attractive. But people said she looked like her, so she supposed she had to accept that she looked like jean harlow anyway, as I picked up his suit Is she had me a piece of paper and I opened it up and it was the bill. And I thought this- an extra zero and looked at the least the item- I say of everything and she played out the many power every night for three nights. I should But she was taken a woman drank and she looked at me. She said medicinal and then she said will I be staying with you. next year will be much cheaper, and you know I love that about my mother. I love that toughness that ruthlessness. That desire always to have the last word
and I respect is it means we don't get along that well, but I respected that six months later she had a fool and then about six months later she had another four says she says she broke her left wrist. Then she bug broke. Her right and it was a moment that I realise that there are a whole lot of decisions that I would have to make. My father is dead and my brothers did And I realized in a strange way that this was probably the moment that my mother was going to stop becoming my child and had to work out a way to get her to have a look at a retirement village. This came. I kidnapped her on the way home to her home, took her into this retirement village opened up this daughter, this gleaming one bedroom apartment with a little slushing creek during past. I said what about this
and the same woman who told me that she didn't want to move out of her own home ever because she knew where everything was said. I want to be here in two weeks and it was so easy. I panicked I thought my She's gonna be ten minutes away. Eliza went back home to my husband bob. I think she's gonna be ten minutes away and he's very wise man, and he said susan there's a moat and then he looked at me again and he looked a bit more serious. Is time any said: she's, not olympic swimmer. Anything! Is she now no olympic swimmer we move to. When we fitted it out just so beautifully as though she was a new bride beginning a new life which is, in fact what she was. Then we went back to her house to clean it out to sell it for him, and I started going through the cupboards and every time I opened a cupboard, it was filled with magazines,
now, when I was working as a journalist, I would ring my mother and say look this month. I've got a cover story if, if you're interested- and she would always say- oh, I don't think so- the magazines just too expensive at the moment- I'd I'd, I dont think sir, and he was this house stacked with magazines. All of them had my stories in them I I just couldn't get my head around with or when we finish with a house and we'd gone back, I said esther. The house was filled with magazines. Oh my stories, did you read my stories? She said all our people gave them to re. People gave them to rake, as I saw your name in them and I said well, did you write them? Oh I don't know. I can't remember. because to give a compliment, would I think, have killed her time, marched on it with care,
since again- and I wrote a memoir know. I always tell people who are about to write memoirs, not to use them as a way to get back. people. However, my mother was a large part of my memoir I would never hurt her. I really wouldn't The underlying basis of our relationship is love. There is no question about that and is also duty because duty, I think in families and nuts and bolts love you just take for granted. So I wrote this memoir and she was easter and she came to stay
if she was allowed back onto the roof and I sat down in an arm chair in the sitting room and I noticed something that I'd never really noticed. She was this little sparrow in this giant armchair. When all my life she'd been this huge woman who who just took over whatever room she was in, and I realized our I'd, never thought of her as being a moment older than fifty three, and here she was. She was eighty seven. So she sat with this manuscript on her lap and I expected probably that she would say no, you can't do it, but before she even turned the first page, she said Susan. I have secrets to, and it was this moment where I thought I think I'm finally going may
we. Actually, the tools are finally going to break through. This is going to be the beginning of a new relationship, a relationship, that's all about understanding and all about respect and everything. You want a relationship with your mother to be so. I pull up a stool terribly too then, when I think about it I mean there. I was sitting at my mother's knee and I'm fifty six years old or something, but it was this. It was this huge moment and she began to tell me her secrets and I couldn't help smiling, because my mother has this shocking memory for anything that she doesn't want to. Remember totally selective, and yet when she was telling her stories about being a nurse in darwin six days after the bombs were dropped, the detail was extraordinary and fascinating, and I listened to these stories and then she said
I had an affair and I thought I mean who hasn't, and fortunately I didn't say only one so and then I so I thought I realized I got. The sense of this was a big moment for her. So I said yes and heat. She said he was married. And I realized that moment that my mother remember she's eighty seven, she grew up in a generation wit to even think of premarital. Six with death wish a married man was a key attain for her. This was the greatest shame. Imagine and she carried this lump of shame around in her chest for sixty years and shit
I told anyone about it and I realized in that moment that the reason she'd been tough with me was not because she didn't love me. It was because she feared for me. She feared that I would make the same mistakes that she would make and the closer I came to making those mistakes that I made all of them in one thousand more the tougher she got, because she was more in
frightened. She read the manuscript and, with great grace far more, I think than I could ever have shown under the same circumstances said: go ahead with it and then she said you know you ve lived the life that I always wanted to live, and I say to you gave me that life, and that was that's- probably the only compliment I've ever paid. My mother, my eternal shame christmas rolled round again and my mouth has always been a drama queen the end of last christmas. At the end of last year she had a heart attack and she ended up in hospital in intensive care, and I sat with her on the first day. She was there and I could see she was terrified of death, absolutely terrified and- and she was saying, I'm not frightened- you father, Sir John, I know I'll be looked after, it'll, be all right
I bet she was terrified. I thought. Perhaps this is a time to talk. Perhaps this is a time when maybe once again, we will break through. She was not well, I left, I came back the next day in the bed was empty to be truthful. The first thought I had was freedom was just fixed through just like that, and then it was replaced with the most enormous regret it was stupid, little things that I'd hung onto because children are far less forgiving of their parents and their parents of children stupid. What was it? about pride and ego ridiculous, so I'm sitting in this room thinking idiot idiot and this doctor walked in and he said well can I help you- and I said yes, our mister duncan's daughter, and he said, oh didn't. We tell you and I said,
no, nobody rang me and he said well, we've transferred to royal shore I said why you say where we're going to give her a triple bypass and a heart valve replacement. Ok, sir, the I drove to north shore really quickly and I went into the hospital and she'd had by now. All this surgery and the doctor said, the big problem is dementia, with patients of her age, that's if they get through the surgery. You have to worry about dementia. So I waited on boxing day and she was lying there and she had this major tube that they have done if throat removed and she was asleep, and so I actually grabbed her hand, which it was probably the first time I'd seriously touched with affection for years or she may to a strange.
Okay, so she opened her eyes. Of course, I snatched my hand away, and I said she looked at me. She said it's think I didn't think you'd come in today. Neither will I dementia she's, like hey the then she looked at me again. I said Are you feeling- and she said well and actually her voice was very scratchy because of the throat and she said they have given me ten years cowan, hey, I thought about it and I went all hundred hundred and one hundred and two and we looked at each other and we laughed and we laughed and we laughed. And then she looked me again and she got that glint in her eye when she knows she's absolutely on a roll and she's about to throw the dagger- and she said I think I can stretch it to they looked at her again and then that glint Jeff
got even brighter and she went I've waited That susan duncan she's, a writer, her professional name, is Susan Duncan, but her married name is now susan story, which is fitting to celebrate her ninetieth birthday. Susan's mom esther insisted on a band of flora to do the flowers and food for eighty people include in her ninety nine year old boyfriend? Susan did the cooking to see pictures of susan investor and pit water. You can go to. Website them off that work. while you're there. You can learn all about our programs sign up for the free weekly podcast or
around the story and here's a pitch we liked about twenty two years old, when I decided I was going to build and tap dance on top of the world's largest cowbell, and accomplish this task. I built the calabaca made flyers or two it around the country. With my band, I kept danced on top of the cow and six months later. I got an email stating that not only do I not have the world's largest cowbell, I don't have the second largest cowbell. It was the owner of the second largest cow bell or getting a hold of me to crush my dreams. That's where the story really start pitches. Your story would love to hear you can call arpit hotline. seven seven, seven, nine, nine mouth- that eight seven seven seven, seven, nine, nine, six, six, eight four! That's it for them
ass. Radio. Our hope will join us next time the hour with Sarah Austin, the most producing director. Sarah also directed the stories in this show I'm going to call the names of the folk who did not get to go up tonight. Please come on up and tell us the first sentence of your story. The rest of the monster, directorial staff includes catherine burns. Sarah hebron jennifer hickson, and make bowls production support from generalised berman, Brandon actor. My mother, the blackout in new york to prove a point, Most stories are true, is remembered and affirmed by the storyteller's moth events are recorded by argos studios in new york city supervised by paul, moved west. The first time that I ever crowd, surfed two things happened.
I got dropped on my head. two I saw the man I was going to marry or whom user, despite the drift other music in this hour from johnny cash, the books and while Mcdermott and Evan christopher. It was My- is there a michigan state university and I moved into a dorm that said, Lbg t didn't know what that was. Moth radio hour is produced by me, Jay Allison, with Vicky Merrick at atlantic public media in woods, hole massachusetts. When I was fifteen, my dad lost his job. That meant that, He could go on spring break with me. the funds from the corporation for public broadcasting, the national endowment for the arts and the John D and catherine t macarthur foundation committed the building a more just verdant and peaceful world. The mouth radio hours presented by the public radio exchange p r,
x dot org. I got a phone call from my girlfriend asking about why I had proposed over snail mail, and I had not been more about our podcast for information on picking your own story and everything else. You can go to our website dumb off or my first mistake was assuming that the walrus would be reasonable, The.
Transcript generated on 2022-06-20.