The Lost Mother
"Supposedly the bad times came from New York City when the stock
market crashed. But it seemed to Thomas that everything really
started a few years later on the wintry morning his mother left them
at her sister's house in town. Irene was awfully dressed up just to
run a few errands, Aunt Lena sputtered that night to his father,
Henry--as if she hadn't known, when she'd been the one who'd called
the taxicab to take her sister down to the bus depot."
Authors like Steinbeck are becoming sadly more relevant in
twenty-first century America. Just like then, good people and
families are struggling to cope with social and economic forces way
beyond their control. Think homeless families with at least one full
time worker residing in shelters or cars. Mary McGarry Morris' The
Lost Mother is unfortunately as germane to today's America as it is to
the era in which it was set.
When we first meet young Thomas he, his little sister, Margaret,
their father, Henry, and all their worldly goods are contained in a
tent. They've lost their farm. Mother Irene has taken a bus to
Massachusetts, supposedly to work in a factory to earn money to help
buy the farm back. Henry is an itinerant butcher, driving in a barely
held together truck to farms where his skills are needed for
slaughtering farm food animals. Fewer and fewer people can afford to
raise the animals that he relies on to earn a living. He must travel
further and further away, just to try to make ends meet, leaving his
children alone a lot of the time. The tent that holds up during the
summer will be no match for a Vermont winter.
If you think things can't get worse, you'll be very wrong.
The Lost Mother is one of the most poignant coming of age
stories I have ever read. It's a riveting piece of literature and a
sad commentary on a nation in which the most precarious citizens are
too often written off by their wealthier fellow citizens. Even now in
the twenty-first century one can meet children mandated to be
responsible for self and siblings in harsh and unforgiving millieus.
On a personal note, even as I write this my Eugene is up on the
trailer roof replacing all the shingles. We are truly lucky that he
has the necessary skills and was able to save up the money to buy the
needed materials. Lots of people today wouldn't be as fortunate.
A great big shout out goes out to innocent kids who have to grow up
much too fast.
Sent from my iPod