And I thought I was sad before losing her.
(Tacoma, WA, USA)
I thought I'd be able to handle the eventual day that my mom would pass. There was no long build up to the day; mom had a stroke and two and a half weeks later she died. I thought I was prepared to handle it. That wasn't to be. It's been six years now and it hurts worse every year; it hasn't gotten easier for me yet.
My childhood was bad. Dad left. Mom had to raise all seven kids at home by herself. Since dad was retired military, mom wouldn't divorce him, this was to ensure we'd still have all the freebies it offered. Even though mom and dad bought our house when we were transferred out west, we were dirt poor. Dad was an abusive drunk who tried to kill us all on several occasions. After he left, mom took on the role of abuser. She beat me and one brother habitually even though there were two of us girls and five boys still living at home then. I tell myself it was the burden of carrying on all the responsibilities by herself that rendered her us un-tolerable. This is when I began feeling hated and disregarded. I was made fun of at school for being unclean and for wearing raggedy clothes. Because of this, I had no friends at school or in the neighborhood.
In the 1970's I was a teenager. I rebelled. Mom softened towards me and I really don't think she wanted to put forth the energy to notice what I was up to. I taught myself hygiene, how to dress 'cool', and I hung out with bad/cool kids. Well, I became pregnant by 16, and was a mama by 17. I moved out, supported myself with odd jobs and low pay and a bit of help from my baby's father. Mom finally showed some concern. What? I had to get a baby so to speak to finally receive respect from mom? Even back then those thoughts hurt.
Fast forward, I've raised four daughters. Holidays, birthdays, all occasions I included my mom. My girls loved her dearly, and mom loved them. I've always told my girls I love them, and vice-a-verse. They never have to question it. But looking back at my siblings and mom, the word was never said. Between my daughters and I we made her respond with an 'I love you', so often it would have made the former version of 'mom' cringe. She soon would say it every time we ended a conversation on the phone. Which by the way, I think is the hardest part of letting her go. Mom would call me daily, sometimes several times. Inevitably, almost everyday when I was about to sit at the dinner table with my family, mom would call me. Sadly, I once told her not to call so often because when she'd pass away one day I'd miss her calls. It makes me cry when I think of how I'd get upset with her for the bad timing. But the funny thing is that she kept on calling anyhow. God only knows how much I want those calls from mom now.
I forgot to mention how mom had apologized for the anger, harm and grief that she brought me as a child. She said if she could do it my childhood over, she would do so much more for me, and that she'd be a better mother. I believe she sincerely meant it.