Wednesday, August 22, 2007

My Mom

Tomorrow (August, 23) would have been my Mom's 66th birthday, so this post is dedicated to her.

My Mom passed away on January 1, 1987 when I was 11 years old (she was 45). She went into the hospital early in the morning on Christmas Day 1986 and never came back out. She was only one week in the hospital, and I had no idea at the time how bad it was.

To this day, I am still shocked that it happened. I only went to visit her a couple of times, and asked my Dad if I had to keep going as I hated it there. I do remember her saying while she was there that she was planning on taking an extended leave of absence from work for her health, so clearly no one knew that she had such a short time to live. I think the final analysis was congestive heart failure, but I'm honestly not sure of the exact details.

I was always Daddy's little girl, and viewed my Mom as the "bad cop". She had emotional difficulties, and was not consistent in her moods. I do know that I was a cherished and wanted little girl baby though, and she spoiled me rotten.

There are 12 years between me and my brother, and I certainly wasn't an accident. I know that they were trying for me for a long time.

My Mom dressed me better than anyone I knew. I went to private school for my first 5 years of schooling, and when I finally managed to go to public school I immediately saw a difference between me and the other kids. I wore blouses and slacks vs jeans and sweatshirts. I had little diamond rings and earrings vs jelly bracelets. My family certainly wasn't rich, but my Mom just liked buying me things and making me look pretty.

I remember her sitting at the kitchen table with me going over tests that I brought home. She would go through all the answers that I got wrong with me until I understood. I could talk to her for hours about people at school, and teachers etc etc and should would have completely adult conversations with me about it and never look bored with what must have been childish prattle.

Every year on my birthday she would ask me if I wanted a store bought cake, or her chocolate marshmallow layer cake. Every year I wanted the chocolate marshmallow. It wasn't until my step-mom and K & my person made me the same cake for my birthday on other years that I found out what torture it is to make that cake. Everyone has refused to ever do that for me again, but my Mom would not only do it, but
offer to do it year after year.

My Mom would take me on little mini-holidays with her to a hotel in our city. It was just a nice fun little adventure where we could order room service and dress up for dinner.

She was a really creative woman who could cook anything under the sun. One night we would have chili for dinner, and the next night we would all be eating cornish game hens. It was a very eclectic menu.

She also liked throwing parties for me. In grade 5 she invited all my friends over on Valentine's Day for lunch and we had pink heart cookies and sloppy joes and all sorts of goodies. And in Grade 6 she let me throw my first boy-girl party on Halloween. Everyone was dressed up and she bought a zillion decorations and helped me with my witch costume. she lent me one of her black dresses and bought me a cape and pointy hat.

A friend in University told me once that I wear the fact that I lost my Mom clearly on my sleeve. Everyone would know it - I'm the girl who lost her Mom. I don't know how I could have lived my life any differently. I feel the loss of her everyday. I had to become a little grown up so early.

I can't stand it when I hear about people fighting with their parents, or treating them badly. I agree that there are some really crappy people out there who don't deserve to have kids, but I think that most people are just trying their best, and sometimes their own stuff prevents them from doing as good a job raising their children as they would like. Unfortunately it's my one failing as a friend. I don't do well listening to people criticizing their parents, since I would have given anything to have grown up with 2 of them.

My Dad did a fabulous job dealing with a little pre-adolescent girl. I'm sure he had no idea what to do with me, and frequently wished that my Mom had been there to offer a bit of guidance.

I do remember the day she died though. Not in its entirety, but certain flashes with perfect clarity. We were out in the country at my grandmother's. She always had a big dinner on New Year's Day. My Dad never did come, so I went out with my brother. I probably should have found this more unusual since it was my Dad's mother who was hostessing the dinner, but I just accepted it. Then came the phone call.

My Dad called my brother to come to the hospital right away. He hightailed it out of there with his girlfriend leaving me scared and confused. The thought had never occurred to me until that moment that something might be seriously wrong. I mean so serious that she might not make it. I had no idea. I remember crying, and one of my older cousins talking to me. I don't remember what she said- but I do have these vague comforting memories of it.

Then I was taken home by my Grandmother and found a dark empty house. My brother's girlfriend had left a note saying that she couldn't stand to be there alone anymore, and she went to my brother's friend's place to wait.

Then the phone rang.

It was my Dad telling me that my Mom had died. I remember my response was a stupefied "What?" He wouldn't repeat it- he knew that I had heard him the first time. My memories of that night are like jumps in time. First at my Grandmother's. Then flash to my cold dark house. Then flash to an overly bright fluorescent hospital. I was met there by my Dad and brother. I remember my brother asking me to smile for him, and then it's all just a haze.

And after that it's all just a blurry montage of casseroles and Aunts rolling in.

I kept getting told that it hadn't hit me yet, and that suddenly it would. I don't remember any sudden flash of realization, just a slow journey of days following days. I had to learn to adjust. I didn't grow up to be terribly girly, and I was probably mildly maladjusted being raised by two men. I have grown into myself in that aspect (especially the girly part) but it was a long time coming.

It's been 20 years, and I still love and miss my
Mom everyday.

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