Today is May 28th. It is my mother’s birthday, although she passed in 2001. Today, had she lived, she would have been 82 years old. Of course, a child as they age, will always look back to the choices made by a parent, and I was especially close to my mother, just never knew it, or understood her.
Had she given up the cigarettes, and the non-stop black coffee from dawn till dusk, she might have lived longer. Had she tried to eat more vegies, and less processed meats, maybe. White bread, of course, was the only bread. She came from the time of the Great Depression, and I heard many stories about living during that time. I suppose that coming from a place of “doing without,” caused her to continue to live like that throughout her aging years. I have long ago decided that it may well be impossible to understand what she thought, or why she said the things she did. Much less, I have tried and tried to grapple with the increasing likelihood that she had a violent nature that came out against our animals. I cannot begin to tell you how deeply sick and disturbed it makes “me” feel to look at that. But as the images continue to haunt me, there seems to be no other explanation.
How do I forgive that? My whole life has been spent in trying to save them, the animals, every one. They are even present in my dreams, which I call obstacle dreams, where there are things I must face and overcome, and at the same time there are always little animals, just sitting in odd places, waiting for me to save them. It is a very upsetting type of dream to be plagued with. I can only think that it is my way of balancing out the bad that was in my mother.
But this is not a time to complain or delve into the dark side of my mother. A friend recently tried to “push” me into a place of forgiving by pointing out that until I do that, I will never have peace. I am almost dawning upon my sixth decade of this life, and still I find it almost unbearable to think of the bad things, and to forgive them in her, if they are indeed true, seems so contrary to anything that is in me.
Her given name was Janelle. And they called her Missy. She was born with beautiful blonde curls that turned brunette as she became a woman. She came from the most affluent family of her very small east Texas town, and even with that, she had only two pairs of shoes, one for school, and one for church, and she was very blessed indeed. For many of the children of the town, had only one pair for all occasions, sometimes they were hand-me-downs, and did not fit properly. But kids make do. They do not know the stress and the worry adults entertain. But the problems my grandparents faced during the 1930’s and 40’s surely trickled down to their kids, as my mother was a child of the Depression. And it would forever mark her.
My grandmother taught the first grade in my mother’s school. And Missy was very bright indeed. In high school, she was on almost every page of the yearbook, until Senior year, where she virtually dropped off the earth. It is interesting to me, because my father first appears in this Senior yearbook, and is surrounded by girls, every time, as he was very good looking and very charismatic. But no Missy. In my heart of hearts, I truly believe that my mother got pregnant, and she had a baby. And I believe that because she was not married to my father at that time, my grandfather insisted that she give up the child. I can find no other explanation. Somewhere in this United States is very likely a sibling to me, that I have no idea about. It is very sad.
Later when she was nineteen, Missy married my father, Harold. I was born when she was 23. And then three years later, they had my brother Jon. They moved to a “city” named Kilgore where Dad worked in a printing shop. Dad was a good father then, as I remember, every nite he came home to us, and his friends also visited with their children. I still remember so much about that first house, the sunlight, my bedroom, the backyard, our pets. Even my toys, I remember them well. The thing I hated most was the torture that seemed impossible to avoid, the constant fussing and messing with my hair. From permanents which were “super horrible” to the curlers at night and the cutting of the bangs. My dad won a $50 prize for a photography contest when he entered a picture of my mother holding my chin and trying to cut my bangs, and I was giving her the “look from hell.” I have this one even now…
I do not know what happened to people. The food they were buying was not food at all. And the life they were trying to lead was so far from what they knew as children. It must have been very hard. My mother was an introvert, and she did everything she could to avoid close friends, and it was only in her later years that she learned to love people, and accept the good with the bad. And many people loved her as well. I have always been thankful for that.
Today I remember my mother. I feel sort of sad, sort of indifferent. I love her truly. If I could see her again, I would let her know that. When I pray, and I speak to God, sometimes I shift, and speak to her, as if she might be able to hear me. I am so sorry I didn’t understand her when I was younger. I was just trying to go to high school and later be a music student at the University. Those were such difficult times where I had to really hustle and having time to understand my mother who was 4 1/2 hours away, was not in the plan.
Today, on her birthday, I imagine beautiful irises. She always grew them as did my grandmother. In spring at this time, my grandmother would also have Spider Lillies in her front yard. Me and Mom would walk around the yard with her, on our Sunday visits, and they would teach me the names of the flowers and plants. These are some of my best memories. Now my brother owns their home, the old family homestead, and he doesn’t allow me to even go there. I cannot even find him, truth be told, as he doesn’t want to communicate.
How can one person in a family, always the “black sheep” still have so much love and caring inside, when the rest of the clan does not. Missy still has a little sister who is 72 now, living in Houston, and I wrote her a couple of months ago. But no answer back as yet. I will try again, as I am just that way. Momma always told me that being alone was not that bad. I guess she had to learn after she finally divorced with my father. They were just too different, and should have done it years ago, but because they had children, and because of the strict religious understanding of my grandfather, it was not to be. Not until my brother and I were grown.
So now I find myself alone. When the knees are giving out, and the back is all twisted like hers was. She never told me that until that last time I saw her alive. Then I could clearly see it in her back. The good news is that I also inherited her good traits. Like reading for one. I cannot get enough of books and the amazing people who write them. Amazon is my good friend! And I am smart, I have good intelligence. It was said by the preacher at her funeral that Missy was a brilliant woman, and could have been a surgeon if she had chosen that. How they could have known that is beyond me, but it was pretty cool.
My father died the next year. He wouldn’t talk to me either or see me. I wonder if he is sorry for that now. His own brother drove to Tyler from Houston to see my Dad and he was only there to help him, with money or whatever. But my Dad wouldn’t even go to the door. So I don’t take all these things too personally, really. It hurts, no doubt. But there are clearly reasons why that I will never know. All I can do now is try to temper the good with the bad. I can’t make up for their wrongs. But I can live my life as best I can, being true to the things that matter most to me. If other people don’t understand, that’s okay. We are all different. I don’t like being alone, no, not one bit. But it is far better at this age than being with the “wrong” person. Maybe someday, my age and my looks, my limitations physically, won’t matter to somebody. Maybe they will see the beauty I have inside and I will no longer have to be the “sheep.” Today, I can only wish the world Peace! We can have it. We really can. But first we must feed the babies. All of them. No child should ever go hungry in this world. No matter his race or his religion. And having Monsanto and Gates selling their vaccines and their franken-food to Africa and other undeveloped nations is NOT the answer. It is all about love, people. It is all about sharing and caring. And that, I can do. Thank you for reading. And Happy Birthday Momma! I love you!