When my first book came out, People Magazine said of my mother, “Annihilating and loving by turns, she makes Sophie Portnoy look like June Cleaver.”

I think I’m safe to say that this is not the kind of review most mothers stick on the refrigerator. By all rights, she should have turned to me at that moment and, with regards to our relationship, said: “And…SCENE.”

I wouldn’t have blamed her. Having your warts exposed for the entertainment of beach readers everywhere is probably not the kind of thing most women dream of. But I truly wasn’t trying to hurt her.

I really wanted readers to see that she was more than just a screaming harridan wearing cold cream and Playtex Living Gloves. I wanted them to know that, for all her moments of raising her fists to the heavens and shrieking, “Why God, WHY is there water in this SINK?!” there were moments of pure, unadulterated love.

Sure, it wasn’t touchy-feely love. (Our family treated physical expressions of affection like candy stripers in a leprosy ward.) But there was love, nonetheless.

“Yes, we’ll buy you a trumpet.”

“Yes, we’ll come to your school play.”

“Yes, you can wear a ruffled pirate shirt and bleach your hair with Sun-In. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

My sister and I have talked about it at length, and I’ve always said, I don’t think she really wanted to be a mom. But that’s what you did in the 60’s. If she’d had her way, she would have been Gloria Steinem – just without all the protesting and ponchos.

But she TRIED to be a good mom, she really did. Yet, most readers’ takeaway was that she was a holy handful.

And that kind of breaks my heart.

I will never forget the book reading I had in St. Louis (where I grew up). Mother and Dad and my sister and cousins all came, and I was more nervous there than I was doing readings in LA for showbiz folk – because the book had been out for about a month. And I knew that many of the people there had already read it and were probably clucking their tongues at her.


But she was as gracious and kind as any mother could possibly be. She smiled and clapped and bore the brunt of my brutal honesty with far more grace than I would have if the situation had been reversed.

I never really told her how much that meant to me. Nor did I acknowledge how hard that must have been for her.

And then, she died.

I can only take solace in the fact that I believe she is watching from above, and cheering me on. And I can only hope that, in this second memoir, readers come to see what a truly extraordinary person she really was.

Because frankly, I don’t want to meet up with her in the afterlife if they don’t.

She’ll probably be tempted to bitch-slap me with those Playtex Living Gloves. And I’ll have it coming.