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Goodbye loyal friend 3

Posted on March 23, 2018 by Marna

You filled the void that was left by Tex – my first big dog adoption during the California housing crisis. Your rescue led to a Facebook contest to rename you (WTF Carla?) and Aunt Holli won with “Dixie” – naming you after a region like Tex with a play on the letter X.

You helped me recover from all the Sonos product launches and you taught me a walk on the beach and the toss of driftwood was the best escape. Your socialization skills needed great improvement, but they always made me laugh. (I have a hard time with Asian women in clanky heels too. And it’s hard to like men with trucker hats and beards.)

You may of been fearful of other dogs, but you always stopped to let the homeless and handicapped pet you on State Street. The kids at the illegal daycare next door loved perro grande. You loved the ladies and were cautiously optimistic about my male friends.

Your first road trip was to visit Marna V1.0. You quickly learned the central coast was a great escape. Like your predecessor, you patiently waited for us to hit our vineyards because we had treats for you on the backside. I feared our east coast relocation would upset you, but you were always eager for a “car-car”. You didn’t care as long as you were with me. I will never forget night two in Albuquerque when you jumped from one queen bed to the other, like a hyper ‘tween. The next morning, when you twinkle-toed through frost-covered grass, I worried you wouldn’t be able to handle Virginia weather.

Your move to Virginia was when you learned to give no fucks. You were middle-aged like me and you just wanted to take long walks and nap in the sun. Snow was fine, but cold rain sucked. You made great friends like Ellis, Dottie, Jewels, and Vulcan and had great admirers from afar like Stoney, Elvis, and Roxy. Your party skills expanded. Three was once a crowd, but eventually you learned you could handle a dozen drunk humans.

I will miss your call-and-response moans during my infrequent sexual encounters and I thank you for not jumping on the bed to save me mid-act. Your orthopedic bed will remain by mine as a reminder that a good mattress and good sleep are better than a night of bad sex.

I will miss your twist-and-fart moments when you looked to blame me for what clearly came out of your ass.

I will miss your log-sawing snoring which was like a wave machine to me and it always calmed me down.

I will think of you any time I’m in a meat section with 3” marrow bones or when I bake a sweet potato.

I will think of you when I turn on the TV and ask “what do you want to watch?”

I will think of you every time I’m in Jefferson Park. You have marked nearly every square inch of grass; therefore, your ashes will be spread there.

I hope you sleep sound, Dixie, for you will be missed. You hung in there for me and tried so hard, but eventually I knew it was time. I hope you find great friendship with Newman, Kramer, and Tex because I know they’d love you as much as I do.

Goodnight, sweet girl, goodnight.

The secret lives of mothers Comments Off on The secret lives of mothers

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 Comments Off on Secrets told

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.


  • 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: 377 Posts, 132 Comments

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