Elena Says Something Nice
Elena Says Something Nice about Tony

The collage, "Where Is the Love," is the most personal work in the series. I have chosen texts that reflect my feelings about my mother.

"Elena Says Something Nice About Tony"

Angela's notes (maybe written 2002)

For all the years she ever mentioned or said anything about Tony, her ex-husband, my dad – she could would call him that son-of-a-bitch and or else spit out his name with such anger that allowed no question or argument. Somehow she hated him so much that for the longest time, from their divorce when I was 7 till almost thirty years later, I never heard her say a single nice thing about Dad.

And when I finally decided to bait her one more time in the presence of a family friend who was driving us – and now I have a witness, I turned around in my seat and asked her, Mom – can you say anything nice at all about Dad – and she said, clearly with no hesitation – well, he was a good lover. It was so unexpected, I was so shocked that I couldn’t speak, not even to challenge it, I just took it and kept quiet so she wouldn’t remotely consider retracting it. And then I had to repeat it – a good lover? And the picture of my father, like the picture images I held in my head of my mother, he my grandparents and shifted one more time and I had to think about them all over again. These were characters after all in a story I was beginning to write in hindsight and I couldn’t think of them any longer as just the parent or my mother or father or grandmother but as distinct people with a history of histories of distinct histories of passionate lives. They were no longer nebulous but extraordinary, I could no longer take them for granted, they had become extraordinary.

I guess for her to hate him so much, she must have loved him so much because only such love could the kind of deep meaningful love you allow yourself could cause such pain. And I don’t think I’ll ever have the full story. Though she wrote it in her own words, I can only piece together events and little pieces – as much as my siblings and can conjecture what the true story might be.

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