10 years ago today marks the very last time that I heard my mother’s voice and tomorrow marks the 10th anniversary of her death. August 27, 2005 was the day that my mother left the world of the living. I talked to her at around 11:00pm the night before and she slipped away peacefully early the following morning.
My mother and I never did have the best relationship but when she called me from the hospital that night, I remember she asked about me, all of her grandchildren and her son (my brother, whom I had custody of). I made sure to tell her that everyone was ok. I had no doubts that I would be speaking with her again soon because I thought this was just one of her many stints in the ER due to her lifestyle. Well, I will never forget the phone call that I received early the next morning — I remember the doctor that attended to her being so specific about everything that they tried, telling me how bad her condition was and letting me know that she went peacefully and wasn’t in pain. I dropped the phone and screamed.
I have so many mixed feelings about the passing of my mother and have cried over her death for various reasons. I think I cry more for the “what if’s” than anything else. You see, I can’t recall one time that my mother said “I love you”. I also can’t recall being read to, having her help me pick out clothes, doing my hair, showing up at school to meet my teachers or attend a school performance… none of that! What I do remember is feeling alone, often going hungry and wishing that my mother would love me or pay attention to me.
My mother unfortunately had a drug and alcohol problem and to top it off,
my father the
asshole that she was married to was very abusive towards her. I can look back on it all now (with my adult eyes) and see that she felt stuck and that she was broken. I know that she had a deep-rooted drug and alcohol addiction and I know that neither of those are easy to break but as a child… I just wanted my mommy! Her drug of choice back then (all through the 70’s) was heroin and most of my childhood memories of her include her being high, in a deep sleep or awake with a 40 oz of Colt 45 in her hand.
She was a beautiful woman with a smile that could light up a room and a laugh that would make you laugh if you heard it. She was nice, caring and she could cook like nobody’s business but I can’t help but to ask… “What if?”
- What if she got some drug/alcohol intervention early…
- What if she wasn’t in
that abusive relationship…
Well, the reality is that she didn’t get the intervention early and she stayed in that relationship for 11 years. She did manage to leave my father and take my brother and I with her (when I was about 11) but by then, the drugs had such a hold on her that she was just a shell of the person I know she truly could have been.
At the age of 12, she took my brother and I to Warwick, NY to spend the summer with my grandmother (I had never met my grandmother before this) and when summer ended, my mother never came to take us back with her. She did come and visit from time to time the following year and she called here and there as well but she never came to get us. I ended up graduating from high school in NY and moving to DC with a baby on my hip, and a trunk filled with our stuff at my side. I would go months and months without talking to my mom. I mean, what was there to talk about… I was angry and quite frankly (looking at it with adult eyes) I think she was a bit ashamed.
Years past and my mother ended up moving to NY and into a halfway house. During the course of her life she tried to get help for her addiction but nothing worked or perhaps she didn’t “work it”. She had a son when I was 16 that I eventually took custody of when he turned 8 and I saw my mother very infrequently (perhaps once a year… if that). She went on with her life abusing drugs and drinking and I went on with my life here in DC.
When I would go home to visit my grandmother I would see my mother from time to time but we just made small talk. I never sat down and asked her the million questions that I had about her life, my childhood, our future..etc. I just let it be. If I had to do it all over again, I would have had those talks.
A part of me resented the hell out of my mother, actually still does but again when I put on my adult eyes, I realize that she had a disease and had that not had a hold on her, I am sure things would have been different.
This anniversary of her death has been by far the hardest for me. I don’t know why. I’ve spent a lot of time talking to my boyfriend Anthony about it, crying about it, trying to analyze why it’s so hard this year and I think it boils down to the fact that I really miss the lady that I never knew and won’t get the chance to know and that just sucks!! I never got a chance to have those ‘adult’ conversations with my mother, we never went out to lunch, went shopping, giggled on the phone, none of that!
This isn’t a “mom-bashing” vent. Believe me, I’ve re-read this post a few times and even called my boyfriend and said “Damn, I am making my mother out to sound like a horrible woman” but that isn’t the case at all. What I have learned to do with the negative effects of my childhood and with the memories of being raised by a junkie is to turn that into power to use to fuel my own parenting! My children have never seen me drunk, I talk to them all endlessly about following their passion, letting them know that I am there for them no matter what and I try to make it to all of their “big moments”. I became a huge child/teacher advocate and held some sort of office at each of my children’s school PTA. Now, I am far from the perfect mom (there’s no such thing) but my mother did teach me that it was time to break the cycle! Because of her, I am proud to say that I have raised 2 beautifully, smart and spirited daughters that are so passionate about their parenting that they put me to shame..LOL!! I know that I finally broke a cycle of abuse (drug, alcohol and physical) and never once have I hid my past from them or the boy teen for that matter. I’ve told them all about my childhood, all about how choices in your life can work with or against you and unfortunately that life isn’t fair but you can play the hell out of the cards that life deals to you.
I miss the mother I never truly had but I am playing the hell out of the hand that life delt me!
((May she continue to rest in peace))