My Mother
by Lori Naumann

When she got pregnant at sixteen, her parents threw her out.
But my mother didnít whimper or whine. She never struggled with doubt. 
She married my reluctant father; a seventeen year old punk.
She made a home in a dingy apartment, furnished completely with other peopleís junk.

I was nine months old when my daddy left; just walked out and never came back.
But my mother didnít mope and mourn. She never got off track.
She took a job at the factory; a neighborhood you wouldnít visit on a dare.
Most days she walked the mile each way, to save a dollar-and-a-half bus fare.

I was in kindergarten when the factory closed down, a victim of the recession.
But my mother didnít flinch or falter. She never wallowed in depression.
She swallowed quite a bit of pride, overcame a considerable amount of fear.
We lived on food stamps and welfare, while she trained for a stable career.

She went to work at the hospital - a pension, benefits and a good paying job.
But my mother didnít boast or brag. She never forgot to thank God.
She showed up to work each day smiling - so proud to be a Certified Nurses Aide.
She was an honest and dependable employee, worth every penny she was paid.

I was twelve years old when I joined the Bergs, the toughest gang in town.
But my mother didnít bawl or bellow. She never put me down.
She didnít wonder if it would be good for her. She didnít even hesitate.
She left her job, her church, and her friends and moved us to a farm upstate.

In the ninth grade I was expelled - for bringing a gun to school.
But my mother didnít gripe or groan. She never lost her cool.
She worked extra shifts and extended hours. We ate lots of macaroni and beans.
She managed to come up with the tuition, to a private school for Ďtroubled teens.í 

I barely squeaked through high school Ė had no desire for higher education.
But my mother didnít push or prod. She never showed her frustration.
She helped me find an apartment, co-signed the loan for a car.
She congratulated for me for finding a job Ė washing dishes at the Burger Bar. 

Out on my own, I got addicted to drugs. I was arrested for armed robbery.
But my mother didnít storm and splutter. She never gave up on me.
She scraped together enough cash to hire a lawyer, and borrowed the money to post bail.
I was sentenced to probation and drug rehab, but spared from spending time in jail.

After just one month, craving drugs, I took off; robbed a store, shot a guard or two.
But my mother didnít weep or wail. She never really believed it was true. 
She sat through two days of testimony - including pictures of the guards that were dead. 
She listened calmly as the guilty verdict was announced Ė then went home, and put a bullet through her head.