Ducks and the Kindness of Strangers

DucksOne of the unique qualities about Mother was that she took to strangers like a duck to water. The further removed they were from the family tree, the more she loved them. And the more she would do for them.

In a strange way, she lived in a world much like that of Blanche DuBois. One could easily hear Mother proclaiming that

I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.

Looking back, Mother had many things in common with Blanche’s character from A Streetcar Named Desire.

  • The chronic drinking
  • The social snobbery and judging of others
  • The Southern belle act
  • Underneath it all, she was an insecure, dislocated individual and a tortured soul

DrunkDuring the teen years of my sister Abby and I, Mother’s portrayal of Blanche took more interesting turns as she further descended into the alcohol-fueled darkness.

When my sister began dating, Mother would be so mesmerized by the boy that she fell all over herself to be kind and entertaining.

Maybe she was hoping to marry Abby off so it would be one less responsibility for her. The boy was usually puzzled by her attention but it was better than the Grand Inquisition they may have expected.

Mother loved attention and having male attention was even better in her twisted mind. It was aggravating for my sister Abby and me to hear our friends talk about Mother like she was a saint.

We knew she was up to something but we weren’t sure just what it was. We were waiting for her to become enraged and go back to her usual manner of bellowing. One of the problems was you never knew when her personality would be transformed.

But ultimately she never disappointed us. After the date or get together, Mother would become the person we knew again and life would once again be far from normal.


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