Grpucho Marx glasses

I often write about my mom because she’s my mixed-up muse as I work out my dumpster fire of feelings about her.  Yes…her epic antics, hysterics, mental health, and addiction issues were the connective tissue of my childhood…navigating her moods and madness was a chore.

Life with Sue was akin to traveling blindfolded; no matter how much I wanted predictability, there was none of that.  Inspired, brilliant and broken, Sue’s trademark impulsivity charmed the world, despite her flaws.  Who doesn’t want to slow down to take a gander at what’s she up to NOW?  Not channeling Shakespeare exactly, but still…Sue behaved accordingly, “All the world’s a stage…” No matter the adventure du jour, Sue found accomplices, compadres, and willing sidekicks. She was the funny as hell reckless woman.  What WILL she do next?

The older I get, the easier it is for me to summon the comedy – those laugh out loud moments previously eclipsed by the hurt she caused.  I’m reminded they’re there.  Like Halloween…and my recent perusal of photos long forgotten…resulting in welcome ‘crack myself up’ moments. Let me introduce you to Halloween…Sue Style.  See below…

Mom and dad together in their cheer outfits.  Handmade pompons and all. 

Sue’s custom cheerleader outfits for dad and his best buddies (my papa’s on the left). 

And finally…Halloween Flintstone style  My folks are on the right and the apprehensive neighbors on the left?  They knew to abandon the circus of Sue not long after Halloween that year. 

“Holiday Season” for many folks in the U.S. begins with Thanksgiving but not for Sue.  Nope. The high holidays began in earnest with Halloween.  For the woman prone to excesses of food, drink and drama, Halloween was the perfect foil and jumpstart.  Think about it.  Halloween represents an opportunity for grown-up-dress-up and theatrics. 

Sewing costumes and party planning were creative outlets for my tormented mom who had a painter’s heart but no confidence in her craft.  Devising themes and rounding up the troupe of friends and neighbors to join in, Sue leapt headlong into Halloween planning in August of every year.  I see it now as the creative distraction that it was.  A way to avoid her own issues and feel a sense of purpose.

Sue’s devotion to the details kept her occupied (happily) for weeks as she made costumes by hand, as well as décor.  We moved ten times in twelve years during my childhood and Halloween, no matter where we lived, was also Sue’s showcase to introduce our messy family to a new neighborhood.  Wowza…what an intro. Some people just wave helloooo to new neighbors from the mailbox but not ‘fun Sue’.  

Gregarious, gracious, and generous, new friends got swept up in Sue, but it was a tough act to sustain.  People would come and go – drawn in, initially, by the spectacle of Sue – but they’d disappear, one by one, as they got closer to the flame and bite.  Sue was lonely in these in-between times and that’s where addiction sat waiting for her.

But she rebounded – she always did.  Just like an artist who adds tiny brushstrokes to a painting in progress, Sue would embellish the story of her life with half-truths every time we moved.  Her life = her creation. Eventually the burden of hard-to-track lies, and alternate realities added to her dementia diagnosis.  I just know it.  What’s real and what’s distortion?  It became harder and harder for Sue to distinguish as aging took hold.

For today, I’m enjoying the chuckles.  The reminders that the family circus wasn’t all bad.  Especially at Halloween.

-Vicki 😉

Photo by Gratisography on

25 thoughts on “When You Crack Yourself Up: Halloween Edition

    1. I agree! In a way, a faulty memory might be a blessing: imagine the burden of remembering every bad thing that happened to us, with all its painful details as freshly as the day it happened, essentially re-living it every time something conjures up the memory? Maybe that’s why we’re nostalgic, because we remember the “Flintstones” memories and forget the distressing (half)truths?

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          1. Oh…EW…for some reason when comments pop from you they remind me of comments from friend Kendra – you’re both so insightful and I didn’t catch myself before I hit reply. Entirely my fault – so sorry! 😘

            Liked by 2 people

              1. I’m Kendra, EW, and you can always go viral about me, but make it something nice? Or at least something interesting. 😆

                As to the post, Vicki, I love the way you highlight the fun memories without glossing over the currents running underneath. There’s so much in this post. As Wynne so succinctly said, “A deep and fun post.” Exactly and perfectly stated. 🤍

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                  1. Of course – it’s no biggie at all! Besides, I’m the world’s worst at things like that. 🤦🏼‍♀️ Maybe I’ll write a post about some of my blunders. Just gave me an idea👏😃

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                    1. Sounds terrific — I will be able to relate. Most of my ‘goofs’ come from moving too fast — and occasionally, responding to comments as I’m reading from my phone…not me at my best. I’d love to see a post about blunders — we could kick off a whole series, LOL. Have a great day, dear one. 😉

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      1. You made me think with your response. I think the body has a natural method of amnesia for pain. Pain hurts awfully but when it’s done, the memory deadens until it’s just something that happened, like sunset.

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        1. That’s a great analogy! Imagine if we remembered, with PAINFUL (caps because I mean it literally) accuracy the pain we suffered with every injury. Would be paralyzed from taking risks? Maybe remember the sweet and rewarding part of the past, and “deadening” the painful part helps us move forward and live the future more happily?

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  1. Wow, “The older I get, the easier it is for me to summon the comedy” – that is a remarkable accomplishment and at least for me, a sign that I’m healing. Love how well you paint a picture of your mom and her antics (and I love the Halloween costume pictures too). Seems so perfect that Halloween can make what is sad and scary fun.

    A deep and fun post, Vicki!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. A wise English teacher once told me that, “Humor is our best friend.” Most comedians have lead painful lives. (Read Molly Shannon’s new memoir, Hello Molly!). Your mother’s characters comes leaps off the page here. Great writing, Victoria.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Evelyn — for reading and for your kind comment! And yes…thank you, too, for the recommendation about Molly Shannon’s book — I’d forgotten about it! I will pick it up…good reading fodder as I finish my own longer piece about my mom (hoping for publication next year). Your sweet encouragement means a lot. 😉

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