Raymond Cothern studied writing with Walker Percy and Vance Bourjaily. Winner of the Deep South Writers Conference and the St. Tammany National One-Act Play Festival, his plays have been produced in New York City. Nominated for a Pushcart Prize, his fiction, poetry, and essays have been published in North American Review, Manchac, Intro 8, Two Thirds North, American Antheneum, and in the book Meanwhile Back at the Café Du Monde.
Raymond, in “Motherless Child,” Sarah reflects on her unusual upbringing after her mother Lacey’s suicide. At times, the roles of mother and daughter had seemingly reversed, and Sarah finds herself “admitting again she became a psychiatric social worker with dim hopes of saving her mother, or failing that, saving herself.” Perhaps she failed to save her mother, but, as the narrative slowly reveals more about Sarah’s own personal struggles, it seems to offer hope for her by the end. Although largely focused on Lacey, do you consider “Motherless Child” an indirect route to Sarah’s own story?
Oh, absolutely. It is as much Sarah’s story as it is her mother’s. Some may be left to the reader’s imagination how much Lacey’s actions may have affected her daughter. The thought of a mother sharing intimate details of a sexual nature with a daughter might make the skin crawl, for a daughter as well perhaps for a reader. Having repeated plenty of parental patterns of my own, and especially seeing how much I passed on to my two daughters, I have always been fascinated at how much less desirable attributes—whether genetically or environmentally—get pushed on.