My mom was murdered by a used-car salesman

It dawns on me that I don’t know how to tell you about my mom. Should I start with her untimely death or with her sad beginning? Should I tell you about her mistakes or her million miniscule victories? Should I start with the day she wished her father dead when she was five or the one when I stood in the shower at five a.m. and wished her back to life? Tell me what you want to know.

My mom did everything in the wrong order. She was a bad girl and then a good woman. She was a mother and then a girl on her own again, twice. She was a slut before she was a virgin and then she was a slut again at 60. My mom gave up everything she wanted for herself and then fought to get it back only to lose it again and again.

If my mom were telling you her own story, it would be a comedy. Somehow she would twist her heartbreak into dark tendrils of humor until you were on the floor laughing. One day I hope to tell her story like that.

Today I think I will start with the end, because one of you asked me to. My mom died under mysterious circumstances but she was not murdered. In retrospect, her death fell at the end of a long line of clues, as well documented as a stack of stolen credit card receipts shoved in a dresser drawer.

My mom liked creeps and I suspect that she knew a lot of them. Three creeps in particular she knew intimately. She married one at nineteen, my sister’s dad, and she had a run-in with one at 35 that left her with me. She found the worst of her creeps in a phone-sex chat room in early 2002.

Mike was an on-again, off-again used-car salesman. He’d sell you a used car whether you wanted one or not. He’d sell you a used car if you asked him about the weather and he’d sell you a used car on your birthday. He sold used cars so well that he went to jail for it several times, the last time just weeks after he married my mom in 2003.

My mom waited patiently for his return a year later. I won’t tell you about how I paid her rent and her expenses while he was in prison. I won’t tell you how much I worried that Mike the used-car salesman would return, or worse, that he wouldn’t.

Mike the used-car salesman returned shortly before my Bubbie died. He timed his reappearance well, and made off with my Bubbie’s savings. He spent his treasure trove on scummy motel rooms and gifts for younger, hotter finds from the sex chat room.

In 2006, my mom fell on the grass while she was walking their Yorkie. She waited hours on the ground for Mike to return from the used-car lot cum scummy motel room. My mom died a few days later in a crummy hospital ICU, her organs shutting down because of drug complications. My mom was not murdered by a used-car salesman, but she may as well have been.

Mike the used-car salesman died two months later in my mom’s bed of all places. When I got there, I found all of his receipts and bank statements stuffed in a drawer and I had to laugh.