My Mother’s Voice

Alzheimer’s being the conniving thieving bitch that  it is, my mother wasn’t herself in the final years of her life. The  woman I visited in the Alzheimer’s special care unit was a stranger wearing my mother’s skin but not much else, like the invasion of the body snatchers had taken place, month after month beneath the surface, until one day we looked and the woman we knew was gone, replaced by some alien being. An imposter. Intruder alert. Intruder alert. She died back in 2012. Don’t worry; I won’t be getting maudlin on you.  My real mother–not that stranger in a wheel chair, head nodding on her shoulder–is who I want to think about today.  My real mother —Enid Maude Good nee Hayden, a prim, old-fashioned name, perhaps the only thing about her I didn’t love— was British-born and had a lovely London lilt to her voice her whole life even though she left England in the mid-1950’s. I suppose at thirty, her vocal patterns were already frozen in place.  Sounding like a cross between

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The Name of the Game is Nostalgia #ThrowbackThursday

I can get a little nostalgic writing memoir—you might say its the nature of the beast—but theres probably no place or time I get more soppy about than growing up in Niagara Falls. Niagara Falls was where I spent most of my elementary school years; it was where I learned to swim in the pool at the Cyanamid plant; it was where I broke my arm when I was ten; it was where my period came for the first time in the girls room at Princess Elizabeth Middle School and Niagara Falls was where I cried serious tears when we moved away when I was fourteen. But before that, Niagara Falls was where I had my first boyfriend, a boy named Randy Tuck. I was eleven and it was the same year the Name Game song came out. Remember?

The name game! 
Shirley, Shirley bo Birley Banana fanna fo Firley 
Fee fy mo Mirley, Shirley! 

It was a huge hit all over the world but no place more so than in our schoolyard. We stood in our little clique circles and sang and clapped all our names but none gave us quite the charge we got when we used Randys last name instead of his first.

Tuck, Tuck bo Buck, Banana fanna fo Fuck
Fee fy mo Muck, Tuck! 
Randy blushed, hating the taunt. We knew it was cheating but still, wasnt it the most hilarious thing ever?

Randy and I had our first kiss slow dancing at a party in Dwayne Powers rec room. Unlike the basement in my house which was dark in a bad way—I helped my mother do the laundry in the wringer washing machine during the day but I wouldnt dream of going down there at night when the single hanging lightbulb made weird shadows dance in the corners—Dwaynes basement was wood-panelled, his parents jazz album covers stuck on the walls for decoration, and when we turned out the lights, it was dark in a good way.

At first it was romantic, dancing in the dark, Dwaynes parents leaving us alone. Then the coupling up began and kids started slipping off to the couches lined up against the wall. I knew I was supposed to do that too, let Randy—who had ridden his bike over to my house and walked me and Trixie to the party—lead me by the hand to the couches. Instead we kept dancing while most of the other 5th graders were making out, Dwaynes parents upstairs, oblivious. Poor Dwayne, the host, skinny, creepily taller than any of the other boys, going through an awkward stage, with no one to kiss at all.

Randy and I danced, my arms slung round his neck, his arms around my waist but the kids pressing up against each other on the couches made me nervous. I didnt want to sit down, I didnt want to do what they were doing. What were they doing? I squinted over his shoulder into the darkness but without my glasses I couldnt really tell. Where two people should have been, the shadows merged into one. Finally, probably because we thought we were supposed to, we pressed our mouths up against each others, and kissed the way it looked like they kissed in the movies.

Thinking back, it was less a kiss than a crushing of our upper lips but it was enough. Wed kissed. We were boyfriend and girlfriend now, an elementary school couple, destined to live happily every after. Or as it happened just a few weeks.

Randy. Randy, bo Bandy. Banana fanna fo Fandy 
Fee fy mo Mandy, Randy! 


The Name of the Game is Nostalgia. The letter is N.
Originally published April 16, 2015 for the #AtoZChallenge 

NOTE: I quite often change names to protect the innocent from embarrassing memories but in this case, Randys real last name is the entire point. Sorry Randy, wherever you are.


  1. It’s officially the second half of A to Z. Time to catch that second wind, rest up on Sunday, then it’s that mad dash toward the finish line!

    Stephen Tremp
    A to Z Cohost
    N is for Numerology

  2. Thanks for the walk down memory lane. Banana, banana fo... LOL

  3. Yes, that song wasn't as big in my school days (probably because it was in Hawaii)... but we still knew about it.
    Great descriptions.

    Maui Jungalow


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