Remembering My Mother
This was my mother when she was a teenager in the late 1950s or early 1960s. She passed away at the age of 67 in 2015. I honestly can't believe it's been almost seven years since she left us. Many days I wish I had a time machine and could go back and change things. I would if I could. I'm sure we all have those thoughts - If only...
Mom had a hard life. You could see it when you looked at her. In this picture, she looks happy. It was probably one of the happiest times of her life. Nothing much had scarred her yet. She was young and innocent. Jovial perhaps?
Why is it that we analyze a person's life after they're gone? Perhaps analyze isn't the correct word to use. Maybe it should be we wonder about how they became the person they were. What's even worse, you have questions and you know you'll never get answers for them. Then you think, even if you could ask them would they even tell you the answers?
I know my story is different from my mother's but we both experienced a lot of the same things in life. My experiences changed me from the sweet, jovial girl I once was. I'm sure her experiences did the same to her. I've tried my entire young adult life not to be like her but looking back, I'm exactly like her.
Growing up I always heard negative things about my mother from family members (not her immediate family) and now I know that those things weren't always true. Growing up and hearing those things made me see my mother in a different light than I should have. I realize that now and if I could apologize to her for it, I would. Don't get me wrong, I love my mother. I always have. She was always there for me even when I didn't realize it.
She was treated badly by a lot of people in her life. She didn't deserve the treatment she received. She was like the black sheep, kind of like me. Life is hard when you have no one. You have to learn to live with no support system, which is almost impossible. Now that one of my biggest supporters is gone, it's almost impossible for me. There are things I wish I could say. Things I wish I could ask. Things I need advice on. She was the person that always had the answer, even if it was an answer I didn't like.
I knew my mother better than anyone else. I knew her longer than almost everyone else in her life. I was around her more than anyone else. I know her story or what she would tell me of it, which I know was difficult for her to do. I know how she felt about others. Those that just abandoned her. She loved deeply but had issues showing it, probably because she didn't grow up with it shown to or toward her.
My mom was cremated. My brother has her ashes. I never got closure from her death. In March, I bought a headstone for her and put it in the family cemetery between her mother and grandmother. Before I bought the headstone, I made her a temporary one. I always wanted to have a memorial for her but my brother keeps telling me no. I want to celebrate her life. The parts that made her happy. Her children made her happy and she loved all of them even though she had a strained, almost non-existent relationship with most of them. I used to blame her for my older siblings not being around just because of what a few others had to say about it but I know it wasn't all on her.
After she lost her first six children, not by choice as some believe, she was alone. Some time between leaving and before getting pregnant with me, she tried to kill herself. Not many know that about her. She was at a vulnerable time in her life. She was alone, probably the most alone she has ever been. She was afraid. Afraid to even be near her family. Someone had threatened to kill her if they saw her again. That's why she stayed away. That's why she was afraid. That's why she was alone. I believe she thought there was no reason for her to go on. She overdosed on pills. Ended up in the hospital. They saved her.
As far as I know, she was never diagnosed with any form of mental illness even though I'm pretty confident she had some form. For me, I can remember how she acted at times when someone's hand (who I won't mention) came up close to her face in anger. Being a survivor of domestic abuse and knowing the signs, I can confidently say she suffered from either PTSD or battered women's syndrome. I suffer from it. I can't stand anyone putting their hands on my throat after my ex-husband choked me and almost killed me. When my primary care physician and my endocrinologist tried to feel my throat to check my thyroid it was difficult to sit there and let them. My anxiety shot up. Even when my current husband puts his hand near my throat or face I flinch and become guarded. I'll put my arm and hand up to block.
I miss my mother every day. Today, like every day, I remember her. I remember her sacrifices, which were many. I remember her love for me and others. I remember her voice, which was loud and booming at times. I remember her crying the day her great-granddaughter was born. I remember her crying when she was in the hospital and the cardiac surgeon told her she would have to go to a long-term care facility. Then I remember her strength when the long-term care facility tried everything in their power to end her life so they wouldn't have to care for her. Her strength is what kept me going during that time. I remember her laugh and her slightly crooked smile. How her eyes would light up when she saw me, my brother, and the grandkids. I remember her dancing the Charleston. I remember when she would get excited over the smallest thing.
I miss her cooking. Her soup (which mine doesn't taste like) would always warm the body. Her roast (again mine doesn't turn out like hers). The chocolate - oatmeal no-bake cookies she would make at Christmas. The many pictures of her kids and grandkids were plastered in picture frames all over her walls. The crazy hillbilly words like cattywampus that she would use when a picture wasn't hung straight on a wall and how she'd say wrasher instead of washer. LOL! I'm smiling now just thinking of all the silly things she would say and do.
When I was little all of us kids were locked outside. It was dark. This figure in a white sheet came out from the side of the house. Scared the bejeezus out of us. It was mom. Of course, we didn't know that at the time, and when the door was unlocked and opened after our incessant pounding and yelling we all almost fell in the door. Oh, the good times! I'm sure the adults laughed their arses off that time.
That's just some of the things I miss. I miss the woman, my mother. I miss everything about her. I wish she was here.