A Bad Marriage Is Fattening
Can a bad marriage really be fattening? Yes it can! In my own bad marriage I went from 125 pounds to 275 pounds 20 years later. This is the story of how my unhappy marriage made me fat — and how I divorced my husband and moved on to a happier new life.

Memory Is A Bad Recorder

Last Monday, February 22nd was my weigh-in day.  I weighed 225 pounds.  I lost 4 pounds.

Today March 1st I weighed 221 pounds.  I lost another 4 pounds.  I’ve lost a total of 21 pounds since I first weighed in on January 1st.

I’m thinking today about my mother, and how happy she would be that I was finally keeping my deathbed promise to her and losing my weight.

Mother used to always say, “Memory is a bad recorder.”  At family gatherings when reminiscing about the past, my two brothers and I could always count on Mother to contradict any anecdote we told with her all knowing smile, “You’re mistaken.  Here’s what really happened. . .”  Mother would then put her own spin on things.  On those rare occasions when we would all gang up on Mother and insist that our memory was correct, she would cite her favorite play, Rashomon, a Japanese classic about a rape and a murder.  Spoken from the perspectives of the rapist, the raped woman, and the murdered man as told through a medium — each person had their own version of what had happened.  Proving Mother’s point: Memory is a bad recorder.

Of course there were always exceptions to the rule.  Mother was the exception.  Her memory was the final word.  My brothers and I learned early on that there was simply no bucking Mother.  So we each secretly clung to our own memories.

Two weeks before Mother died she was hospitalized.  Frail, on oxygen, being fed intravenously and hooked up to a monitor Mother said, “Don’t remember me like this.  Remember the happy times.  I’ve lived a long and good life.  I traveled.  I danced.  I had children, grandchildren.  I played the piano, the guitar, I sang.  Don’t cry when I’m gone.”

But already I was crying inside as memories of what had really been her life engulfed me.  She was the unloved child of parents who beat her, the unhappy wife of a husband who preferred to spend his evenings out gambling with the boys, a woman who suffered from alcoholism and depression.  I would have given anything to travel back to a less painful time and be at a family gathering reminiscing and have Mother contradict me with her all knowing smile, “You’re mistaken.  Here’s what really happened. . .

As if Mother could read my thoughts she said, “Remember what I always told you, ‘Memory is a bad recorder.’”

In the last seventeen years of her life, Mother found peace.  She stopped drinking and took better care of herself.  She never divorced Dad, but she made her own independent life.

She once jokingly said, “If I knew I was going to live this long I would have taken better care of myself.”

Mother died September 15, 2001 at the age of eighty-seven, four days after the terrorists’ attacks on America.  I could not book a flight from Southern California to Portland, Oregon to be at the hospital with her.  Our whole family was there except for my father who had dementia, my sixteen-year-old son and me.  Mother was in a deep sleep.  My sister-in-law held the phone to Mother’s ear.  I could hear her labored breathing.

“Mother it’s Joan.  I love you very much.  You are the most important and influential person who has ever been in my life. . .”

I paused, half expecting her to say, “When did you ever listen to me?”  But all I heard was laborious breathing.

My voice was high and strained as I struggled not to breakdown.  “There will never be a day that goes by that I will not think of you.  You will live in my heart forever.  I promise you, I’m going to lose all my weight.”

I didn’t want Mother to go to her grave worried about my weight and diabetes.

Then a loud buzzer went off signaling Mother had died.

I was so upset.  I wanted one thing in Mother’s life to be perfect.  She had known so much pain and suffering.  I wanted her to go peacefully without any noise and this buzzer had to mess everything up.

I knew exactly what Mother would have said if she could talk.  “I was having this incredible dream.  I was traveling through this tunnel with the most beautiful colors I had ever seen, traveling towards this pure white light.  I was ready to let go when this loud buzzer went off!  You know how I hate to be awakened out of a deep sleep.  Your father used to do that to me all the time and it would really irritate me!  I’d just be dozing off and he would say, ‘Alice, are you asleep?’”

My younger brother, David, came on the phone, he was crying.  “She’s gone, Joan.”

Tears silently streamed down my cheeks as I whispered to David, “She’s reached her bliss.”  In the background I heard my older brother Larry’s voice softly say, “This kiss, Mother, is from Joanie and me.”

At Mother’s memorial there was a huge poster board filled with photographs of Mother in her youth.  The year was 1934 and Mother was twenty.  There was Mother doing a full split.  And there she was in Panama doing a backbend on the sand with one leg kicked high in the air.  Before Mother married, she was a dancer who had traveled the world.  As I stood looking at the pictures of Mother once so young, so vibrant, so full of life, I realized that I had almost forgotten about this part of her life, and what a beautiful, talented and bold woman she had been.  She had defied her mother’s wishes that she go to typing school and become a secretary.  Instead Mother chose to be a dancer and follow her dream.

I realized Mother was right all along.  Memory is a bad recorder.

4 Responses to “Memory Is A Bad Recorder”

  1. I’m so glad I found your blog…you speak to me and all the dumb things that I’ve done for the love of a man who is never home. I too have put on weight. Weight he says I should lose to prove I love him. If I knew then what I know now…
    Thank you for your beautiful writing!

    • Lori,
      I’m so glad that my blog found you as a reader! It is especially for readers like yourself that I am writing this blog! A Bad Marriage Is Fattening is a memoir that I have wanted to write for a very long time, because I knew, with every certainty in me, that I was not alone. Other women, besides myself, did dumb things also for the love of a man. I felt that there were many other women who would be able to see themselves in me and identify with all the foolish things I did. It has nothing to do with how intelligent you are. Millions of intelligent women do foolish things when it comes to love. When we know better, then we do things differently — it is all part of living and learning. You, yourself, said, “If I knew then what I know now…” How very true those words are, but just remember, “It is never too late to be the woman that you were born to be!” We all grow and learn from our mistakes. As far as the weight that you have gained goes, you should never lose weight to try and please another person, because if that person disappoints you then you will end up putting all the weight back on and then some. The only person you should ever lose weight for is yourself. Please continue reading my blog. I promise I won’t disappoint you. You’ve read nothing yet! This story is just beginning! All I ask is that you please be patient if I don’t post a new entry for a couple of days. Believe me, I’m working on writing it. Just keep checking back to see if I have posted a new entry. I’m very committed to writing this blog! Lastly, I want to thank you for your comment. I am grateful for the readership I have acquired in the two months that I have been writing this blog, but very few people comment and I understand that. Before I started writing this blog I, too, was one of those people who would never comment when I read something either. Best of luck in everything that you do, Lori.

  2. great writing. needed to reapply my mascara with this one!

  3. I really liked your blog! super

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