Post 3 — The Mother, Jean

They were a rambunctious group, roughhousing like puppies and occasionally really beating the crap out of each other. The level of physicality might have seemed out of place in a house full of girls, but no attempt was made to force them to adhere to feminine stereotypes. The competitiveness was heightened by their perception of parental favoritism, something their mother and father were well aware of and determined not to encourage. Christmas gifts were presented in stacks of exactly the same number of boxes; each girl had an equal amount of socks in her drawer. The canned peas were counted and divided by four, regardless of whether or not anyone planned on eating them. Every child was equal in the Broquet household, and it occasionally drove them mad with fury.

The keeper of this zoo was their mother, Jean. There were a lot of stay-at-home moms in those days so clearly she knew what she was getting into, but she must have occasionally had regrets. After all, it had been twelve years since she had had a moment to herself. “Get out of this house and get the stink blown off of you,” she would yell at her girls, using a quaint old family expression. “I’ll call you when it’s time to eat.”

It was a neighborhood tradition for moms to stick their heads out the front door and shout for the kids when they wanted them home. Since the restricted play borders were all within hearing distance, Jean would stand on the front porch like a modern day farmer and call her piglets to the trough. “Kath-eee! Chriss-ie! Lyn-nie!” would echo off the street, and the girls would perk up their ears and then moan theatrically about having to leave their play. But dinner was always a high point of the day so they would scamper off to eat. Everyone except for Carolyn; she may have been starving but she remained defiant in the face of the dreaded moniker. She never understood that you simply cannot yodel a three syllable name.

Although racial unrest was simmering in the streets of Detroit in the boiling summer of 1964, the siblings spent their days roaming the quiet suburban sidewalks of Harper Woods with the rest of the kids on the block. Their best friends were another set of alliteratives down the street – Debbie, Davey and Dawn – and with the others joining in, they played loud and complicated games of baseball that involved a lot of shouting. Catholic schoolchildren are raised to strictly adhere to the rules, and there was always much discussion if the girls felt other people were not following their interpretation. The days seemed endless, long hot afternoons that faded away into dusk as they all headed home at the first glow of the streetlights.

They must have seemed endless to their mother, too, but for different reasons. On one particularly sweltering July day after she’d spent the afternoon trying to keep the crowds at bay because she’d washed the floors, she finally flipped. “Go outside! I don’t care how hot it is. Drink out of the hose if you’re thirsty.”

Jean was usually pretty easygoing and put up with the continuous chaos that four children can create, but the heat and the noise seemed to push her over the edge. There was a pile of ironing that needed to be attacked, even if the humidity in the house made the clothes go limp as soon as she finished them.

Into this hellhole came Larry, the head of the household and provider of food and shelter, right on time at 5:30pm. Oblivious to the fact that there were screaming children everywhere and his wife had a crazed, wild look in her eyes as she waved the iron at them, he gave her a kiss on her cheek and said “Hi, honey. How’d you like to move to American Samoa?

Her immediate response was, “Great, where the hell is it?’

She thought he meant she could go alone.

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2 Comments to “Post 3 — The Mother, Jean”

  1. Outstanding reading, especialy for an expatriot. Just acquainted Jenifer Lawrence with your epistles-now we need Farida’s email. No longer is it Farvan. Help us if you will, wrong ph # on Zaba.
    The name Broquet just spells talent…..fine work which we’ll continue to take in.

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  2. Thanks, Lawrences! I remember you guys. Jennifer, I think you were the same age as my younger sister Karen. As far as I know, Farida’s e-mail is farvaninc@gmail.com. That’s the last one I have for her. Do you all know about the Coconut Telegraph? It’s a yahoo group of ex-pats who keep in touch and share stories of Samoa. The address is COCONUT_TELEGRAPH@yahoogroups.com.

    Chris

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