Dance with my father

Standing at the window ready to perform in my white tutu and pink satin sash, I peered into the gray stillness of the day’s fading light, tapping my ballet slipper impatiently. Siegfried, the handsome prince in our version of “Swan Lake, ” was now an hour late.

“Where is he?” I mumbled anxiously, nearing the tipping point for an explosive outburst. Waiting to dance was never good for my five-year-old persona. But just as I was about to burst into tears, his shiny silver Oldsmobile […]

Coping with an Addiction

Preparing to confront my lifelong addiction for the first time, I stood in front of the mirror ready confess the shame I’d been hiding. The first step to healing, I reminded myself, is admitting something is wrong.

“My name is Jackie, and I’m a gum-a-holic.”

Since I was five-years-old, chewing gum as been a vice of mine with the first piece of Bazooka Bubble gum innocently placed in my mouth by my father.

Chomping on the sugary substance with a mouth full of baby teeth, I laboriously […]

Prepared for the Road Ahead

With my stubby snout smashed up against my plate, I happily licked off the remains of chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream. Rooting to polish off the last remnants of my sixth birthday party, life was good until my mother walked in. My pigpen dream was disturbed and my joyfully gluttonous moment destroyed.

“What’s wrong with you?” she screamed. “I taught you better than this!”

Smearing the sticky frosting off my cheeks, I gave a shamefaced smile and mumbled, “I’m sorry, mommy. I couldn’t help myself. […]

A Mother’s Love for her Children

Looking more like an overstuffed mushroom than a petite 17-year-old girl, blubber oozed over the sides of my Montgomery Ward bell bottom jeans. This new style of the 1960’s was supposed to have a slimming effect, but at 5’5” and 170 lbs, modelesque I was not.

“What do you think?” I asked my mom as she gazed lovingly at me.

“Oh, honey. You look beautiful.”

Several years later, I realized my mother was a liar.

Pouring through old family photos, I was horrified to see that during those […]

My Inheritance

On the rocky beach of the Russian River in 1987, my four-year-old, Jenni tip-toed over hot, sun-drenched pebbles and darted towards me. Freckles intensified in the brilliant afternoon rays, her moon-shaped face beamed with childish excitement.

“Mommy,” she began, breathlessly. “When you die, can I have that bathing suit?”

Stunned, I studied my second child while tanning my body in a lime green bikini.

How could she be thinking of such things? I wondered. At thirty-four, do I look like I’m close to death?

But peering into her […]

The Memory Keeper

“Oh, no. This has all got to go!”

While attempting some spring-cleaning a few months back, I came to the frightening realization that I was turning into my mother: I was a hoarder of life’s minutia. Every cabinet, drawer, and closet were overstuffed with items that had clearly outlived their usefulness or purpose. Living in one place for 30 years can do that to a home.

I adored my mother and normally would be proud to be “just like her,” but not in this circumstance. My […]