BEE BAXTER MEYER’S WRITINGS
Throughout her life, my mother remained deeply attached to her parents and our extended family. As a child, I remember her sitting at her ancient Royal portable typewriter pounding out and forever polishing stories for us, her children, her newspaper column readers, her radio and television listeners and viewers, and finally, back to us, her children. Mother wrote our family history in a way few parents memorialize the passing times and events and their family’s place in time. Mom wrote widely about politics, community affairs, the public radio and television business, mental health, farm worker housing, the United Nations, and other contemporary topics, recording her observations in her very legible script in seven huge Meyer history family volumes.
She started our family book when my twin sister, Noel, and I were born, and continued her writings way into the adolescence and early adulthood of my younger sister Deborah. Once each volume of writings, letters, photographs, newspaper clippings got to “critical mass” — four to eight inches thick — she would take them to a book binder to have each volume saddle stitched and bound in leather, with a gold embossed spine title and volume number. My twin sister is the archivist for six of the seven volumes; my younger sister, the last volume. The paper on which Mom recorded our family’s history, in journal and commentary fashion was not acid free and has started to deteriorate over the years. I have begun a project to permanently recover as much of the material as time allows.
In terms of whose life was being chronicled, Deborah definitely got the short end of the stick. By the time Mom started Debby’s volume, the seventh, she and Dad had moved to Florida to take care of her aging parents. There is a noticeable diminution in Mom’s output regarding my younger sister after Dad and Mom and Debby made that move.
What she did, though, was change her focus. As soon as Mom settled in Florida, she wrote a sequence of literarary quality stories about her upbringing, her parents’ extended families, and the last years of her parents’ lives. She continued to polish these stories up to a month or so before her death in El Paso at the age of 71. As a writer, Mom was ahead of her time. She tackled the topic of adult children caring for their fading parents, parent and child attachment and enmeshment, her own struggles with Bi-Polar disease, alcoholism, bulimia, promiscuity, profound self-doubt and depression, and living with my Asperger Syndrome (undiagnosed) father, a man thirteen years older than herself who she married as a storm anchor on seas she largely roiled and boiled herself.
One of the stories, I Think You’re Just Wonderfu,l Toodles, seems oddly out of place unless the reader knows that Mom fought weight all of her life. She was an obese , 4′-10″ fireplug of a woman who always had her clothes tailored for her otherwise impossible to fit body. No matter how old she grew she was ever mindful of the professional figure she cut. This story is Mom’s likely reconstruction of her personal equivalent of a “beauty parlor story.” Mom wasn’t into “woman gossip.” She remained a keen observer of people, and eschued small talk. While she used hair dressers, her primary focus was on her body, and in this story, age and the human condition. Hence this story.
These are intimate, heart warming, heart wrenching stories. After reading some of them, I hope you can have some sense of the kind of woman she was: complex, more than occasionally Hell to live with, a passionate lover and liver of life, always blazing her own path, leaving others in her wake with raised eyebrows, a sense of admiration and wonder at her accomplishments, and not as much saddened or surprised by the news of her death, a suicide, at the age of 71 as they would be of just another old person ending her life in this way.
Mom’s story Mama Mama encompasses her profound adult child’s agonized thoughts about her mother, whose undiagnosed Alzheimers Disease began exacting its toll on my grandfather and his daughter beginning in her mid fifties. This story was published as the centerpiece of an edition of the Miami Herald Tropic Sunday magazine supplement published six months after mother’s death.
Remembrances of those who knew her in Norway, Maine, her last “permanent home” and Miami, her home for seventeen years before, plus Mom’s last letter on the day of her death are found here.
Although I have not placed an individual copyright in her writings, each and every one of Mom’s stories is, in fact, copyright. The same copyright rulesapply to her writings as to all contents of this web site.
Each of the titles listed below is a link to one of Mom’s stories or remembrances of her.
- Aunt Ettie
- Cousin George and the Cutter
- Farm Woman
- I Think you are just Wonderful Toddles
- Let Birdies in their Nest Agree
- Light, Enough!
- Mama and Papa I Love You!
- Mama Mama
- One Connecticut Summer
- One Night Stand
- The Last Living Aunt
- The Two of Them
- The Way it is – Grandparenting
- The Way it is (1981)
- Why do you do for others?