The List.

I am not a violent person. I can get angry and I can lose my temper and have a hard time finding it. But violence? Nope. Sometimes I wish I were an Alexis Carrington in a world of Ticht Nacht Han, dahling. My mom had a sign in her kitchen: I am just a Raggedy Anne in a Barbie world. She was no Raggedy Anne and I am certain aspiring to any level of Barbie would have been a hard no.She was a beauty from soul to heart to bone. She also had a tea towel someone had given her after she lived through a brutal divorce. I ran into my ex husband today, then I backed up and ran into him again. Though she never would have. Maybe.

My mother was a gentle soul and anyone who knew her would speak of her immeasureable kindness, intellect, strength and generosity. If you were on the receiving end of any of these gifts, you were damn lucky. Some took advantage of these gifts. Patronizing her quiet strength.Thinking she was naive. She survived so much and never not once,confronted the ones who did her wrong.

She would laugh and say, Gloria? Don’t you wish we had the Alexis Carrington gene?

When confronted by the ugly of others, it would take us days to come back with a response.We took things personally. But we would write about it and tuck it away for the next time. Because the next time, we were really going to let someone have it.

She would say, I wish I could gather all the people I don’t like, who have been mean to me or my children and put them in one room and let them have it.

Me too.

But we both knew it would not have made a difference. Ugly don’t care.

I continue to go through boxes of my mothers things. Boxes that have moved from one place to another to another, labled and taped shut. Yesterday while going through the Book of Mom box, I found a list of names my mother had compiled and tucked away in a pocket of her old address book. Shitty People was scribbled at the top of the list.The list was edged with brightly colored sea shells. I laughed out loud and thought to myself:

Shitty people by the seashore with seashells. She would have laughed too.

I knew the names on the list and I knew exactly why some of those names were on the list.Some names had a check beside them, some names had a date listed however faded in her distinct handwriting. I never knew if my mother ever knew about some of the names on the list, though I always suspected she did. She never let on. She never retaliated. She never confronted.Instead, she wrote down their shitty names and withdrew the gift of her kindness, of her grace, of her intellect. I knew how she felt about most of the names, but some names were a mystery. She felt deep disappointment. She felt anger. She felt betrayal. But she moved on. She kept her circle small.She swallowed her disappointment, her anger, her betrayal.

I wish she would have let loose on all of those names. I wish she would have gone down the list of names of shitty people and confronted each and every one with her disappointment, anger and betrayal. Her rage.Unleashed it all. Maybe her brain would have lasted longer, instead of shutting down and holding on to only memories of her children, of her feisty three, of my namesake. Would have confronting all the names on the list meant the tumor in her throat would never have been fed by swallowing all her disappointment, anger and betrayal? That’s a big buffet to digest. Would it have led to a moment of reverence? Her fierce,stealth reverence? All those names on the list would have to face her fierce, stealth, reverence and slump away. Git going. Gone with their own ugly.

But that was not her way.

We went round and round about this so many times. Why she never pressed charges against the much younger woman who during her involvement with my father, forged my mothers signature to sell pieces of our family art and property. Why she never confronted the contractor who took advantage of her after a devastating hurricane when all she wanted was her beach house to be completed. Why not one but two CNAs who were supposed to be caring for her were slowly moving in and stealing from her. Even days before her death as if one of them knew the end was near took her credit card and went on a spending spree. At Walmart. At fucking Walmart. Why she chose to handle her disapointment, anger and betrayal by clocking miles on the beach, walking and collecting shells instead of…?

Instead of what, Gloria?, she would say.

She chose to live with the best revenge: her love. Her children were safe and happy(for the most part as all mothers know). Her grandchildren were safe and happy(for the most part). She lived where she wanted, did what she wanted and was going to die where she wanted. Her terms. Her way. While she may have questioned why others lacked any kind of moral compass, she also knew the people on that list, those shitty people also had to live with their own misery. They had to rot with their own greed. Their own ugly. Some names on that list are no longer living, some are. Those that died, died with the ugly. Those living still carry the heaviness and rot of the ugly.

What my mother never knew is I too have a list. My list started years ago. I choose to let go of my anger in different ways. I choose to find reverence through different venues.Like my mother, I live with the disappointment, anger and betrayal. Names of shitty people on a list.Names of shitty people who hurt me, my child, my family. I go about dealing with the names on that list in my own way. Like my mother, I know people live with their own ugly,or die with it. I walk away and my circle gets smaller. My child is safe and happy( for the most part as mothers know). I live how I want to live. I will die that way too.My terms. My way. I am learning to do what I want to do all over again, which is priceless.

Unlike my mother, I rage in ways I wish my mother could have.

But that was not her way.

One day I think we will have another discussion about this. Just us two.


  1. I can see her writing…those small well-tanned hands signing PBCrist on the million SOAP notes she wrote in patients’ charts. I can vividly see the multiple (and I mean multiple) bags from local stores (think Roses) she carried to work which contained shoes, toiletries, and clothes for our patients who had so little. I remember her face when we talked about the “lock out”. I was horrified but she just accepted it and moved forward every day. Maybe she knew what we have yet to realize-that the ugly in people will eat them from the outside in. She wasn’t going to let them live rent free in her head. That’s where her peace came from.

  2. Yes. All of these things. I have come to understand systems, especially in education and mental health reward mediocrisy and ignore
    creative intellect.”Lock outs” come in so many forms mostly from those who are threatened by those who know more.Without a doubt my mom found her peace, did things her way and yes,she did love to go to ROSES, or wherever, and fill a bag with things that could benefit others….I was so fortunate to have her as a mom. XOXO

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