Dont Mince Words

Archive for the ‘Family’

The secret lives of mothers 0

Posted on November 15, 2017 by Marna

My brother rarely calls me. When he has to put me on speaker so his wife can hear me react, I know it’s going to be good.

“Some lady who is researching ancestry called and believes mom had a child in 1952 in northern Virginia,” he said.

I doubled over laughing. “HAHAH. No way. Well, I guess it’s possible. It kind of explains the way she treated me and would never let me date or go out,” I replied.

Barbara did not have an awesome childhood in rural North Carolina. The summer of her junior year in high school, she went to northern Virginia to stay with her aunt and uncle. She had told me that she was malnourished because the family was so poor and they had a hard time feeding everyone. After she completed high school, she returned to northern Virginia to live with the aunt and uncle and begin a career as a secretary. Or so I thought.

Prior to this phone call, this was all we knew about her early life. Now, thanks to DNA tests and, people can begin to understand their past. We had a “hit” because my mother’s sister, 15 years her junior, took the DNA test. The researcher was able to connect the dots…dates/ages and determine my mother was, most likely, the grandmother of the woman looking.

I volunteered to take the DNA test to confirm the linkage. While my saliva was in the lab, I went to an event in North Carolina. My ancestry aunt said there was no way my mother had a kid. “She would of had an abortion. Even back then she would of found a way.” True. Barbara was very pro-choice. But what happened between graduating in 1950 and having a child November 1952?

My mother’s other sister, who is only four years younger than her, was at the event. I explained the situation and asked her what she knew about my mother moving to northern Virginia. She said she was up there for a bit, but then moved to Richmond, Virginia to work at a department store. “I believe it was called Thalhimer’s,” she said. This was another interesting factoid my mother never mentioned. When I moved to Richmond for grad school, she never said she’d ever lived there. Why move to Richmond where there were the same department stores in downtown D.C.?

By the time I returned home, the results were in. I had a half-niece. The researcher passed on the emails and I contacted my new niece. She said her mother never cared to know who her biological mother was. She loved her adoptive parents. However, this woman really wanted to understand the family and medical history. I gave her some medical details and personality traits of Barbara and I haven’t heard from her since.

I was ready to unravel more of this story. I contacted an archivist for one of the homes for unwed mothers. I’d found someone who could research employee records for Thalhimer’s. Then I realized it just didn’t matter.

My life with Barbara started in 1966. What she experienced as a young woman in a large metro area is the secret she took to her grave. I will remember her as the mother who took me to Planned Parenthood and continuously said (even into my 30’s) “don’t you ever get pregnant.”

I kept that promise.

Secrets told 0

Posted on December 26, 2016 by Marna

I am the family crypt keeper so, ever so often, I go up to Arlington National Cemetery to ensure my father hasn’t kicked the door off after the recent arrival of my mother. Today, the screws were still tight, so I did some holiday decorating and then had a flashback to the 1970s.

It was December and I was 10 years old. My mom grabbed me and said, “come on, we have to go somewhere.” We were in the 2000 block of Powhatan Street, almost to the Arlington County line, when I asked, “where are we going?”

“We’re going to Toys ‘R Us. I’m sure you know there’s really no Santa Claus, so you are going to pick out the toys you know your brother wants.”

So that year, I was like the wiseman bringing gifts to the baby Jesus, except instead of myrrh, it was Evil Knievel. Today, I’m decorating my parents’ grave on what my brother and I call Barbara in the Box Day/Boxing Day. She always enjoyed the 25th, but the 26, it was back to business writing thank you notes and cleaning our rooms. What we did on that day was never a secret.


King Tut, the ladies love his style 0

Posted on July 24, 2016 by Marna
Steve Martin/King Tut

Steve Martin/King Tut

“Girl, look at that red hair and that gray stripe. Wow. And those toes. Yeah. I’d like to suck on those. You taken? Cause I’d like to take you?” said the black guy in front of me at 7-11. Hard to believe just 20 minutes prior, I was playing Super Mario Cart with a 7-year-old who just wanted to beat me… and did.

I was 11 years old when I found out I was black man catnip. My mother, brother, and I were in a very, very long line to see the King Tut exhibit at the National Gallery. Waiting was boring, so I asked my mother if I could duck into the wing next to us and look around. She let me go by myself. As I walked around, I noticed the black security guard following me. When I dead ended and turned back around to rejoin my family, he was in front of me. He looked at me up and down. I didn’t understand why since I wasn’t in People’s Drug trying to steal candy. He then told me he liked my “chest.” I was 5’6” and a C-cup at the time, but I was still 11 fucking years old. I got the yucky, this-doesn’t-feel-right feeling and ran out of the wing.

Since that time I have dated several intelligent and handsome black guys. Their game was more evolved than commenting on my hair, boobs, or feet. Today’s guy gave me the creeps, and not because he was buying a 12-pack of Miller High Life at 10 a.m. His tone and delivery made me flashback to an experience I had forgotten about and never told anyone about.

If you want to take me on a Sunday, quote Steve Martin and buy champagne.

  • About Marna

    Marna’s writing career started as a Pentagon intern. Early exposure to $500 toilet seat press releases made her appreciate creative nonfiction. Now she has more than 25 years of senior-level marketing and communications success working with Fortune 100 companies, government, nonprofits, small businesses, startups, and agencies.

    Stats: 373 Posts, 128 Comments

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