Sunday, June 19, 2005

Not exactly a Father's day story...

My mom has been on my mind a lot lately. I realize its father's day, but I need to talk about my mom.

She was born in 1935. She was the 2nd child of my grandparents, succeeded in birth by a big brother. (he was premature. hahaha. He got here 7 months after they were married, but seemed awfully big for a premie in the times, 1930's, wink wink) She met and married my father, an 8th grade dropout, in 1953. She was still in high school, and dad would tell me later how ironic it was that when whe was absent during her senior year that he would have to write her excuses to the office for her. They had convinced her parents that she was pregnant, to find out months later that she still wasn't showing. They had told her she couldn't see him anymore, so she told them she was pregnant. Not wanting the baby to be too "premature" they agreed to the marriage. My brother was born in Dec. of 1954, and I came along in July of 1959. My sister followed suit in 1964. I often wondered what they used for birth control since we were evenly spaced, but didn't dare asked.

My mother was my best friend. To me she took special care with me, as I was always the one picked on. Out of us 3, we all felt like we were the favored child, which is what good parents do. Anyway, when I was about 8, my mom got sick. They made her quit her job, and I remember her taking two baths a day. One to get clean, and the other to "soak" I knew she hurt, but I didn't know how or where. She was a great reader, and would have a huge book in the tub with her and not come out till she was all pruney. Then she would lay in bed and read, either to herself, or to me and my sister. I knew she went to the dr. alot, and we started taking her to the local airport to fly out of town for "treatments". I heard the word cancer, but I didn't know what it meant. I remember seeing her in the hospital a few times, when kids under 12 weren't allowed in. Dad told us we had to be very quiet and sneak, so they wouldn't find us. I know now they were concerned that we would disturb the other patients, but I know he had permission or he wouldn't have done it.

Mom got better and came home. She had one of her lungs removed. She had markings all over her body from her out of town trips. The summer when I was 9 her and grandma took me and my brother all over the countryside, sightseeing. We hit all the local places, anywhere within about a 50 mile radius. Of course, not realizing it at the time, she wanted to create memories for us. I had no idea. I just knew we got to do a lot of things and go a lot of places, and it was a great summer.

My mother always tried to protect me, while still letting me grow up strong as much as possible. I was always the fat kid. My dad would get mad at me and yell about how much I ate, all the time. He would sit there, overweight, food falling out of his mouth so he could yell at me telling me to stop eating. She would try to stop him, and I would hear them talk later. I didn't know at the time, but she had such guilt over my dad treating me like that and her ability not to stop him that she was going to therapy. This was in the 60's, when you only went to therapy when you were crazy. I think that was very brave of her. My dad is and was a very formidable man.

In February of 1970, mom was back in the hospital again. I knew it would be ok and she would be home before too long. She always was. She had been in the hospital numerous times. I used to write her poems and limericks and send them with dad to cheer her up. One of the girls stopped me in the hall that day and said "My grandma said your mom only has about 3 weeks left to live." What the hell was she talking about????? You go to the hospital to get better and she was there now and they were getting her fixed up again. I yelled at her and told her that her grandma was a crazy old lady. I didn't believe a word of it.

That night on the busride home, my brother wasn't on the bus. That was normal, as he was a rebel and they often got calls that he was somewhere he had just decided he wanted to go. (he was 15, after all). We got up to our church, where the pastor and family had a trailer behind the church. His kids weren't on the bus, but the pastor and his wife were standing there flagging the bus down, I heard the low rumbling of whispers and the bus driver told me to go with them. I thought it was very odd, but away I went. We went in, ate dinner, and then the pastor took me over to his office at the church. He told me my mom was very very sick, and that my dad was there now. He wanted to know if there was anything I wanted him to tell her, because he would be going over soon. I was in a fog. I don't remember much after that. I remember trying to sleep on the couch that night praying all night long that I could talk to her one more time and tell her how much I loved her. How much I know she loved me. How she was the most important person in my whole entire life. How I wanted to be like her when I grew up. How pretty she was. How I hoped I could be the kind of mother she was. How I would miss her. How I didn't want her to hurt any more. How I would be ok, cos I knew she would worry about that.

The next morning at the pastors house I heard the phone ring. She was gone. My dad came later and we both cried and cried, holding and hugging each other. He loved her so. We all did. I never got to tell her. I never knew until it was too late. There was so much not said.

Family thought they were protecting me by not telling me. What I was to gain from this protection, I have no idea. I know it wasn't the way it should have been handled.

I know my mom has helped me to be a better human being. I know she sees me from where she is, and that has kept me in line. I used to have dreams that her and I would be sitting together, and I was leaning over on her shoulder, just sitting. It was so very comforting. She was my friend, my teacher, my protector. I still miss her horribly. I wonder how different my life would have been if she was still here. Would I have married my ex? Would we have gotten divorced? Would I have different children? I will never know the answers to those questions, and I wish my son could have known her. It doesn't mean much to him at this point in his life, and I know I could never get across how wonderful of a person she was.

I can't get across in here how wonderful it was growing up with her around, the tricks we would play on my dad when he wasn't home, all the daily things we shared. Her love of Elvis has been passed down to me. Dancing to 60's music while cleaning house is still a favorite thing of mine to do. I still miss her.

God Bless, and let your parents know what they mean to you while you can. You never know what tomorrow will bring.

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