Family ties

My older mother in New York, cut your mother some slack, sister rivalry, home as bedlam, Alex Theroux's wise father, his famous brothers, my mother's bad boyfriend, death of my baby brother

Amy Chu's mother. She still tells me to be careful if she knows I’m driving by myself to Los Angeles, and to chant to Buddha all the way there.
  • Amy Chu's mother. She still tells me to be careful if she knows I’m driving by myself to Los Angeles, and to chant to Buddha all the way there.
  • Image by Lee Staicer

Seventy-five

When I was a child, my mother took me to Central Park and spread a blanket for me to sit and play on, and if I strayed onto bare grass she would pick me up and place me in the center of the blanket again. The summer after I graduated from college, I went to Europe. I don’t remember if she knew then that I traveled from London to Istanbul and back by hitchhiking.

By Amy Chu, Dec. 10, 1981 | Read full article

There is no way any of us can ever pay back a parent for the work they’ve done.

There is no way any of us can ever pay back a parent for the work they’ve done.

Jeremy Eaton

It’s Time to Cut Your Mother Some Slack

A free pass means no more begging for money, no more piling on complaints about the world such as “My husband’s unfaithful.’’ “I’m having a terrible time at work." “I'm an alcoholic.” “I’m having an abortion.” “I got fired.” “I like to have sex with small animals.” It means refraining from giving nutritional warnings about her dietary habits, or giving her a bad time for not being a feminist, or for her disapproval of gays and lesbians.

By Patrick Daugherty, May 2, 1992 | Read full article

Young Donna and Sue. I sat on the bench next to her desk the night before school started, one leg up, chin resting on my kneecap. She was making a list.

Young Donna and Sue. I sat on the bench next to her desk the night before school started, one leg up, chin resting on my kneecap. She was making a list.

The Summer Diet of Donna Delicious

My brother had dressed me as a triangular cookie filled with poppyseed or prune paste. I wore a little triangle hat and a brown sandwich board. During the costume contest, all the children stood onstage: many queens, many kings, many princesses. Only one cookie. We were asked, “What’s your name? What are you today?” When it was my turn, I blanked, looked to my left, said the name of the girl next to me.

By Sue Greenberg, August 18, 1994 | Read full article

 “I only weigh a hundred pounds. It doesn’t take much to keep me alive.”

“I only weigh a hundred pounds. It doesn’t take much to keep me alive.”

Scott Cunningham

Mother Chaos

I left town in 1960 and didn’t return until 1971. We hardly communicated the entire time I was gone. Once I returned and divorced the wife they had rather liked and married one they disliked, we spent ten years living less than a mile apart with almost no contact at all. Dad retired during that time; they got a trailer in Phoenix and spent six months a year there. I looked forward to their leaving.

By Jack Hubbel, May 11, 1995 | Read full article

Albert Eugene Theroux - moral, almost beyond words

Albert Eugene Theroux - moral, almost beyond words

Decent Life Led by the Ordinary Man

I will never forget the time a monsignor from our church, favoring our simple household with a visit, stopped by and in the course of dinner, sat back, smugly, too congenially, to tell a slightly risque story. Halfway through that distinguished man’s anecdote, my father detected the story’s randy nature. He paused for a moment and asked, “Is this an off-color joke?” The monsignor looked sheepish. “I won’t hear it,” my father said. “Breaks down authority.”

By Alexander Theroux, Nov. 9, 1995 | Read full article

Illustration of Daniel, Glen, and his mother

Illustration of Daniel, Glen, and his mother

Larry Ashton

I Am Criticized as Being Hard to Read. He is Thought to Be Cynical. I Should Publish More Books. He Publishes Too Much.

Far more financially successful than I am or will ever be, Paul used to be impatient with my allusive way of writing, symbolic and often too rich. He has a much more lucid, accessible style, which is arguably a prose less demanding to write (though I am certain he would deny it) and one more palatable to the common reader. Many think my work — I hope no one in my family is numbered among them — pretentious.

By Alexander Theroux, Oct. 3, 1996 | Read full article

Finally, I could take no more of being with her. I knew I was about to leave, and that when I did, she would join Daniel, and he might kill her.

Finally, I could take no more of being with her. I knew I was about to leave, and that when I did, she would join Daniel, and he might kill her.

Baby, with Me, Every Day Is Christmas

Daniel and my mother lived in and around Las Vegas, in Oregon, in San Diego, and near Sacramento. Mom had a knack for finding office jobs with abusive bosses. She hoped that if she were nice enough, her boss would have to be nice back. One stole her paycheck; another set up a pyramid scheme; another was a physician who made her babysit a girl he’d gotten pregnant and performed an abortion on.

By Glen David Gold, May 22, 1997 | Read full article

André

André

Death of a Baby Brother

“Your job is to get well!” my father boomed at him, as if his enthusiasm would knock the cancer out. “I’ll do the rest.”

Dad cooked for him, mowed the lawn at his home in Lakeside, and collected his mail. André urged Dad to take it easy, reminding him to take his blood-pressure medication. Father and son were a match. As André grew weaker, he moved upstairs, and they slept in the same king-size bed.

By Jangchup Phelgyal, Dec. 23, 1998 | Read full article

Grandma, Cheryl, and Grandpa. When Cheryl arrived, Grandma said, ‘We were so tired by the time we got dinner on the table that we couldn’t eat it’

Grandma, Cheryl, and Grandpa. When Cheryl arrived, Grandma said, ‘We were so tired by the time we got dinner on the table that we couldn’t eat it’

Tears for my Grandfathers

I’ve often thought to myself, as I race across town to make it to a church before the priest’s time in the confessional box draws to a close and I face the prospect of more time with discomfort from my festering sins and anxiety for my precariously situated soul, how funny this scurrying about must look to a non-Catholic. The idea that you’ve got to find a certain sort of man to tell your sins to….

By Matthew Lickona, Oct. 25, 2001 | Read full article

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