I Love My Boys Very Much – Mary Jones

My husband was a good man. He gave me Jed back in the 60s. Albert came along ten years later. I have always tried to be a good mother. I haven’t always succeeded. When Tom died in 1970, just before filling me with what would become Albert who we named after his father as planned, I thought that I would always have a man. Well, I did. I had two men after he died. Jedediah which was my father’s name and Albert.
But then Jed left us when he was 17. I’m not angry at my boy. He came back eventually as I hoped he would. Albert brought him back. There is so much love in the heart of that younger child for the older that I trusted him when he said he was going to find him. I trusted that he would be okay. Albert’s my baby, but he’s grown up possibly better and stronger than most any man I’ve ever met. Albert is a big boy and very smart, much smarter than his mother. If I have any intelligence about me at all its in the way that I understand the meaning of color. I’m a painter. I painted Albert’s poster for his play. I wish him the best of luck.
When he was in New York he told me he had a meeting with Andrew Lloyd Webber, as though I didn’t know who he was. I knew he didn’t have a meeting with Andrew Lloyd Webber. But he was out looking for Jed when everybody in the world thought Jed was dead even me. And he found him and for doing that he became my hero and Jed’s and I think even Helen’s to some degree. The baby loves him just because she does.
I remember a mule that Jed owned after he moved back here to his house on Annabelle’s Mountain. Teardrop he named it. Well that mule got stolen or something or lost and finally found its way home to Jed and Helen’s, but not until after it went through some horrible, horrible conditions on that mountain. I saw that mule and it was almost dead. It lay on its side for a week and we called the doctor in and he gave it a good chance of living and it did. Albert’s a lot like that mule. I thank God every day for Albert because without Albert I never would have believed that Jed wasn’t dead. When I saw Jed for the first time in so many years, he was holding a baby in his arms. Of course it was Minnie. Oh, I laugh when I think about her, that baby, born in New Jersey but who has spent most of her life on Annabelle’s Mountain. We go up there a lot because its so pretty, as much as we can, me and Albert, Albert more. I like to set up my easel right up there where they call it Angel’s Peak and do landscapes. I did that portrait of Diana for Albert, but I really love landscapes and I’ve got a whole lot of them in my house hanging on the walls and Jed’s got a lot of them on his walls and Albert just keeps the one of Diana in his room.
Minnie is cute as a button. She looks a lot like Jed. Jed just about broke my heart. When he left he put a needle in his arm to say goodbye. I could have died from grief just then, but I didn’t. I remember when Tom, well, I guess it was the last time I spoke to Tom… He told me that my paintings were just getting prettier, just like me. Then he went off to work and not three days later, after a fishing trip with Jed, a man was beating his wife up and Tom helped her and beat up that man and then that man came back and he shot Tom and he shot the girl, too, but only the girl lived.
That man, Steve Merrick, is still in jail for killing Tom and he ain’t never getting out. I don’t hate him, but it fills me with grief to think about him, I mean, I never wanted anybody else and have never been with anybody else and then the way it effected my oldest, Jed. Sometimes I think God sent Albert down like a modern Moses to pick up the pieces of our lives that shattered because Steve Merrick killed the father of my boys. My husband was an extraordinarily good man. It’s a shame really now that he was such a good man because Jed had been highly influenced by his goodness more than anything else. Jed shut up like a clam after Tom was killed. He didn’t talk to nobody. He just played Tom’s guitar, but he played it in a way that was different. I used to watch him play that guitar and it almost made me cry. He would linger down low on those notes as if he were trying to juice out colors or something and not just sound. I painted that boy playing that guitar. I’ve got over twenty guitar pictures in my basement right now of Jed playing those guitars and a few of Albert listening until Jed got too old to have me look at him play and just went off to his room, sometimes with his little brother trailing behind and him not really seeming to mind that much which is ultimately what I think saved his life because I don’t think I had enough male energy in me to give to Jed and I think he took some of it from Albert’s just being there.
He wasn’t going nowhere, Jed. He was disappearing into his music, but I couldn’t take away his guitar. What was a mother to do? I didn’t want no other man, but I tried briefly, but it didn’t work out. Jed just hated him and that was only because the man was really worth hating. He was a jerk. A drinker. I stayed with Rusty almost a year and its the only year in my life that I truly regret living, I mean living, I mean actually being alive.
Jed was thirteen. I’ve apologized to him for it, but by then he was already drinking and the guitar made him cool to girls so, well, I think he lost his virginity right around then. I can’t help but feel that I am the world’s worst mother. I can’t help it, but deep down I somehow know its not true. Albert used to be the only thing in the world that kept me alive it seemed. I even started smoking pot a little bit to see if I could understand Jed, who started going to his room every day, I mean, every goddamned day stoned until I said he could just smoke it in there. Albert told me he once got stoned with him, but he’d never, honestly, never done it again. I don’t know if I can believe that, but I do know that Albert isn’t a drug addict and Albert is truly an artist. I don’t know if he got that from Jed or from me. He never knew his father. I’ll never know. It seems Albert is the greatest artist of all of us in his own way because Albert’s always been the peacemaker. I don’t know if he can write or not like he says he can like he’s some kind of hero. I imagine most people would say that Jed’s got the artist’s soul and I suspect nobody has ever really looked seriously at my own artwork. All I know is that Albert brought Jed back to me and in so doing he gave me Minnie and Helen and I’m obliged to him for those things.
But I worry about Albert. Jed’s got a family. Albert lives in the back of the house with his computer and his hamster. He had a girlfriend for a long time, but she broke with him because he got too crazy about his rock operas. Mmmm. I don’t know. Sometimes I just don’t know. Jed is back home now and everything is alright, but it doesn’t mean that I understand anything. I don’t know why Tom had to die and I know that I should try to be happier than I am, but I can’t seem to do it. At least not well. I go to my clubs and my classes and my job which is all good for me, but I can’t seem to shake this feeling of nothingness inside of me given to me by a Lord who provides all needs and some wants, but seems to do it in a manner too slow for me as I get older and start to understand what it means to be a matron, as I lose forever, watch as the years take them, the workings of my innards that could make me a mother once again. Yeah, I remember that mule just wanting to get home and sometimes it seems to me that I’m like that mule. Sometimes when I get so sad that I don’t want to go on any further I think about how that mule made it home, how that mule simply made it home because that’s where he wanted to be and nowhere else. Albert’s like that too and so is Jed and so is Helen in some way. Minnie’s an angel yet, a little angel, she’s new and when I think of her I think about when Jed was new and then Albert and it makes me want to remember when my marriage with Tom was new and how, even further back, my life as a girl was new, with a new body and pretty hair and smooth skin and that makes me want to remember my own mama and daddy and how new they were when they were young, much younger than I am now, with me and my sisters in town the both of whom have moved away to Nashville and yet I can’t go any further than that.
And that’s what makes me sad. I can’t stay long with my memories anymore. I used to dream of having Jed back with me, but now that he’s back I have nobody else to dream for, to long for to return except for myself in a way I can never be again. Tom’s dead. I thank God that Albert is still here, but I can feel it. He’s moving soon. That boy’s got big dreams and I think he’s got talent too like he’s always telling everybody. I think Albert will be good in Hollywood. I think he’ll just go wherever Petals takes him.
So I guess my hopes are the same as they were after Tom died, that Jed will take care of us, won’t let us fall away like he did. Now that he’s back, Jed must return to what he was: the man of the house. I thank God he lived long enough to have Minnie. I love my boys very much.

Published in: on October 4, 2009 at 6:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

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