Flash Fiction~ “What My Mama Taught Me…”

re’ve always been known as the “Undesirables”.  Being from the smalltown Beckersville, everyone knows everybody and all of their business.
With that being said my Mama, Dana Payton and all of our business was always a topic of discussion for someone somewhere.
My Mama, Dana, has always been beautiful.  She has skin the color of coffee w/extra cream, wavy jet black hair that touches the middle of her back, a petite frame, and the prettiest thickest eyelashes that you would ever see.
She has a big family too. Her mother and father had 10 kids~6 boys and 4 girls.  My Mama was the youngest.
Church has always been a part of our family history.  The Paytons’ have been building churches since before I could remember. There are too many ministers in my family to count and it seems as if God gave our family more musical talent than anyone is in this small Georgia town.
But even w/all of the preaching, singing and confessing to be a Christian some things go unnoticed…or maybe even ignored. My Mama was being sexually abused.  One of her Uncles, the Usher on the door, was the culprit. 
This went on for years before my Mama said that she just couldn’t take it anymore.  She finally told her Daddy.  He was the Deacon of the church.  He was a hard working man that loved his family and just wanted to do right by them.
After my Mama told her secret all hell broke loose in town! My Granddaddy, the Deacon, was devastated…the innocense of the babygirl had been taken…by his wife’s youngest brother.
Not too long after this darkness was uncovered, my Granddaddy confronted the man his children used to call “Uncle Pete”.  Uncle Pete couldn’t deny the fact and his response was “I’m sorry Mack. Dana was just so pretty…I was just doing what the men in my family have always done”.  My Mama told me that for the first time she saw hate in her Daddy’s eyes…before Uncle Pete could say or do anything else,Granddaddy knocked him out cold.
After that, my Granddaddy went and talked to his father-in-law, Uncle Pete’s dad.  He told him that if Uncle Pete wasn’t out of town by the next day he was going to kill him…he also told him that none of the men from his family were ever welcome in his house again.
As the years went by this all took a toll on my Mama, Dana.  She knew that her father loved her and would always protect her but her mother was another story.
My Grandmother always resented Dana after the fact.  She told her that “somethings you just expect to happen in your family. And when they do, you accept it and move on.”  My Mama took a lot of the blame for Uncle Pete never coming back to Beckersville until after her Daddy died.

My Mama married young and had 3 children.  A son named Elias, a daughter Mariah and me, Alexander.
Our daddy left us when I was only a month old. Rumor has it that he moved to Chicago and was killed by some gangstas in a drug deal gone bad.
So from as far back as I can remember its always been my Mama and us.   We never had anything fancy but my Mama always worked hard to keep a roof over our head, food to eat and clothes on our backs.
When I was about 7 y/o my Granddaddy died and my Mama started to change. She started to drink more.  She has always been a social drinker. It was unusual for me to see her sip on a beer or two during family gatherings.
But when her Dad died everything changed.  I remember seeing her cry and her telling me that the only man who ever loved and protected her was gone…forever.
A beerbevery know and then turned in to daily habit.  Then one beer a day after work turned in to her drinking a six pack everyday.  Within a few years, my Mama had become a full blown functioning alcoholic.
My childhood and adoloscent years are a blur.  But I do remember my teens.  That’s when it seemed as if everything in family spinned out of control.
My brother Elias started selling drugs and w/in a year he was one of the biggest drug dealers in West Georgia.
My sister Mariah ended up in a Juvenile Detention Center for assault w/ a deadly weapon~she got into a fight and ended up beating the girl w/a steel pipe.
And then there was me Alex.  I got pregnant by my first boyfriend.  And at 8 months I delivered a stillborn. The feelings of having something that I wanted so bad be taken from me in an instant changed me forever…but for the best. I was determined to do more…to do better. I graduated from high school, went to community college, worked as a social worker in our local women’s shelter.
By the time I was 24 y/o, my first boyfriend Edward and I got married. He was a head college football coach and studying to become a minister.
Within the first few years of marriage, we were doing great! We bought a beautiful 5 bedroom home that had a guest house in the back. Not soon after moving in we found out that we were expecting twins.
My relationship w/my family had been strained over the years. My sister was still in and out of trouble, my brother had distance himself by moving to another city and my mother was drinking herself into a stuper on daily basis.
I woke up one morning w/my mother on my soooo heavy and I decided that I was going to go see her. When I got to her apartment and saw her, I was brought to tears. She looked so sad and frail. Her long black hair was tangled on her head and she looked as if she had aged at least 15 years in the face.
When she saw me crying she said “Alex I’m sorry…I just couldn’t give you what I ain’t got myself”.
My heart dropped and all I wanted to do was love her in that moment. I sat beside her on the couch and just hugged her…
I looked up and didn’t even realize that my husband Edward had been standing in the door way. He said ” Alex, get your Mama’s things. She’s coming home w/us”
That day my Mama moved in w/us. Edward had already bought everything that she needed to make the guest house her home. The next day when she was sober my Mama settled in…she didn’t say much but I could tell that she was happy to be w/us.
The next few months were remarkable. Mama had been doing great. She was sober and seemed to really enjoy her new home. She helped me a lot w/the preparations for the twins. I was just thankful b/c I knew that God had restored our family!
The next month I went into labor. The twins were born healthy and all was well. I even called my siblings to see if we could all get together for a family dinner that next week.
That next Sunday came and it was time for us to all get together. Honestly I was really nervous b/c we hadn’t all been together in years. Once we al got passed the initial awkwardness of the moment, things went well. We talked, we laughed, we got to know each other better~it was great.
That next month my Mama told me that she wanted us to get together again b/c she needed to talk to us.
After everyone got to my house ad settled in, my Mama cleared her throat, exhaled deeply and said “I’ve got something to tell y’all. The Doctor said I got cancer…its too far gone to do any treatment. I’m sorry I haven’t been the Mama I should have been. But I pray y’all will let me now…”
The cming months were hard but glorious at the same time. My Mama talked to us like never before. She told us about her childhood and how it affected her. She was so open and honest…about the abuse and how drinking had been her great escape. My brother and sister practically moved in. We all wanted to be w/Mama and take care of her the best we could.
We had many late night talks, early breakfasts and many, many laughs. But her last week w/us was different. It was more quiet. The hospice nurse cameand told us what we didn’t want to her but knew…death was near.
It seemed as if Mama lost most of her strength in one day. Her breathing was heavy and you could tell w/every breath that she took, she was fighting to have one more moment here on earth.
Late that evening, Mama seemed to improve some. She was able to talk and her breathing had quieted down. We were all sitting by her bed and she said in almost a whisper w/tears streaming down her cheeks “I need to talk to y’all. Be yourselves…for the last time”.
One by one, Mama talked to my brother and sister. As each of them went into her room they shut the door behind them. As they came out, tears streamed down their faces.
Lastly, it was my turn. I walked in and sat down beside her on the bed and said “Hey Mama”.
She smiled at me and told me to go get my husband and her babies.
My husband & I came back into the room and layed the twins in bed w/her. Mama looked at them, smiled and through tears said ” I want to say thank you. Thank you for loving me enough to give me what I hadn’t felt since my daddy died…love. You gave me a home and a chance to be something special to these babies. Thank you…Alex, you a good mama. You the mama I wanted to be but couldn’t. Y’all got a good family here…and Edward you a good man. You love Alex, I can tell…and that makes me happy. Y’all been good to me…and b/c


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