Kaitlyn: Dad said he was sorry he ever married Mom. He said that he wished we’d never been born because of the misery she caused.
Benjamin: He did?
Kaitlyn: Alla time.
Benjamin: I know Mom went out alot. I think I remember evening gowns.
Kaitlyn: Dad cried all night over her.
Benjamin: (Laughs) Oh, come on Tammy Wynette! What else did he say?
Kaitlyn: (Laughs) Not much. I found her in bed with a navy guy when Dad had his stroke. Do you remember his stroke?
Benjamin: I think I remember a stroke. I think he was in the hospital. He was so miserable he cried. I don’t remember a navy guy!
Kaitlyn: You don’t remember? She volunteered you to work graveyard shifts as a dishwasher?
Benjamin: Yeah. (laughs) Some ratty old steak house! I called it the Beef & Bolt. I worked three night shifts and decided I hated it. I was so desperate to get out of it I said I went blind. (laughs)
Kaitlyn: I had to remind you that you were pretending. (laughs) I always did!
Benjamin: What did you always did?
Kaitlyn: Remind you when you were pretending. When you came home that morning you really thought you was blind!
Benjamin: I don’t remember that. And I don’t remember a Navy guy.
Kaitlyn: She brought him home on one of the nights she sent you to work.
Benjamin: Jesus! You never told me!
Kaitlyn: What was I gonna say?
Benjamin: She took me out of school and slaved me out as a dishwasher
so she could bring home guys?
Kaitlyn: She didn’t want you to know because you always ‘named’ things was how she put it. When you turned 14 you went from being sweet and quiet quiet to pissed off and sarcastic and you always called things by name.
Benjamin: What did she mean; I name things?
Kaitlyn: She was afraid you’d call her a whore. I think she got weird because Dad was in the hospital. She thought it would make you more upset. The guy bribed me with a radio.
Benjamin: It was a crappy thing to do. Did you see much of Mom before she was–before she died?
Kaitlyn: NO! But I used the Baker Act to have her committed.
Benjamin: You had her committed?
Kaitlyn: She was drunk all the time, and on the streets.
Benjamin: That was good thing you did Kaitlyn. I didn’t know she was homeless. I found out at the funeral.
Kaitlyn: I meant good. But it didn’t save her life. They didn’t keep her. I begged the shrinks to keep her but they said it was the law; she wanted out and they had to let her go. It happened two days later.
Benjamin: Those fuckers and their twisted laws. I wish I was stupid enough
to be a rich, bible thumping cracker!
Kaitlyn: Yo! — Ben! — Come back! (laughs) That’s why Mom was
scared of you!
Benjamin: I’m sorry Kate. That was a good thing you did.
Kaitlyn: ‘Cracker’ is the word Dad used when he went off on the neighbors:
“them damned white crackuhs!”
Benjamin: : I guess I turned out the way Mom said I would: “just like your Father!” Kate? Do you know much about it? I mean with Mom. How it happened–
Kaitlyn: I went to the sentencing. I met the guy.
Benjamin: It must be hard to talk about.
Kaitlyn: At least I have family now to talk about it with! Is it hard to
listen to it?
Benjamin: Yes! I’m sorry to say it but I avoid you!
Kaitlyn: I’ve always needed you.
Benjamin: I used to look at your baby pictures when I was a kid and cry.
Kaitlyn: I still cry when I think of you.
(c) Rob Goldstein 2015
Header image: Portrait of My Mother (c) Rob Goldstein 2012