Tag Archives: relationships

This one’s for you, Mom

6 May

Happy Saturday before Mother’s Day!

I hope all of the Moms out there have a very special Mother’s Day weekend. I will be spending some of this weekend remembering my own mother. She passed away 36 years ago this month. That means I’ve spent more years on Earth without my mother than with her. She was 51 when she died, so that means I have now lived 6 longer than she did.

I don’t write a lot about my mother because I am still a loyal son. My mother was an alcoholic and my childhood was a jumble of the craziness and the sorrow that comes from living in an alcoholic home. Children who live in that sort of environment learn to cover at a young age. “Everything is fine.” “Mom is taking a nap, she’s just tired.”

The time without my mother has taught me some important lessons. Life isn’t easy and people make choices and then have to muddle through the best they can based on the choices they’ve made. My mother was no exception and neither am I.

I know many people have their parents in their lives up until they are a ripe old age. That situation comes with joys, pain and lessons of its own. Since my father died when I was 6, and then my mother passed away when I was 21, I was, as I graduated from college and headed out into the big, bad, world, an orphan. I use that term for dramatic effect–I had other family  members in my life, I was not truly alone in the world. But to get back to my point, I was parent-less at a young age.

Sometimes I think the opportunity to take on adulthood and make your way on your own is a little gift the Universe gives us to help us learn to better understand and ultimately forgive our parents.

Some folks have it all together when they sally forth into the world. Good for those folks. Three cheers for those folks. I hate those folks. Well, not really. I envy those folks because I was not, to say the least, one of them. I screwed up.

No, I didn’t pursue a life of crime or drug abuse and wind up in jail, but I screwed up plenty of times. But I somehow got back up, brushed myself off, and kept on going. And in the screwing up and the false starts and the regrets that come with them, I learned to appreciate the challenges that my parents had to wrestle with.

My mother was a single mother, with a young boy in tow. I can only imagine how difficult and challenging that must have been. There was a certain sense of  “you and me against the world” sometimes, which created a bond that survives to this day. My mother was fiercely protective of me and I learned to be protective of her. I also felt a responsibility to be “a good boy.” Frankly, I wasn’t always as well supervised as a child should be, but I stayed out of trouble, for the most, because of my loyalty to my mother. I didn’t want to cause her any more grief than she was already wrestling with.

I said all that to say this (circling back to my point…) my parents did the best they could with what they had to work with. They made choices and then had to work with the consequences of the choices they made. Sometimes they were just dealt a bad hand through no fault of their own. Sometimes they screwed up 

I can so relate to that.

My parents were human. (This completely destroys my childhood fantasy that I was actually an alien from another planet, but I will have to live with that.) I completely get that being human is an imperfect state of being. Life is funny and difficult and sometimes amazing. My mother was those things too.

I had a funny memory yesterday, which on the surface isn’t funny. My mother died two months after I met my significant other, Ray. My mother met him once, but I never had the opportunity to come out to her. Whatever my other relatives may have thought about my “friendship” with Ray at that point in time, it must have been obvious to them how much he loved me when he attended my mother’s funeral. While my mother’s siblings and nieces and nephews and I  did a pretty good job of holding it together, Ray wept like a baby.  When he came through the receiving line, he couldn’t speak, he was so choked up. Tears were running down his face. He just hugged me close, smearing tears and a bit of snot on the shoulder of my suit coat.

I had forgotten about that until I was thinking about my mother yesterday. I was moved to realize how loving that was–Ray’s sorrow was that awful pain one feels when someone you love is in distress and you can’t “fix things” no matter how much you wish you could. OK, but it was still kind of funny. I think my family was thinking, “what is with this guy, anyway? He hardly knew the woman!”

It was sweet. And funny.  So was my mother, and so is life.

My love to all the moms out there.

Happy Mother’s Day.

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