Friday, September 4, 2009

LEARNING TO FORGIVE YOUR MOTHER

It'll Take Dyin' to Get It Done - The Story of a 40 Year Forgiveness

Sideways, in the back, running away, standing still and about any other way one could get it, I did. Don't be confused here. We're talking mental abuse-not physical, so relax. Messing with the mind is not such a biggee. No one can see it. So who cares?

My grandma always believed that God would never give her more of a burden than she could bear.

"Strong people," she said, "Have heavier burdens because God knows they can handle more." In that case, I must be some stunning combo of Brangelina, Barack Obama, the U2 lead singer guy- all smushed into a special package. WARNING: Do not open! It could be volatile.

I might be some kind of drama queen, but I doubt it. Who else can remember a little toddler brother struggling to lift himself up from the floor with blood dripping from his nose as he tries to avoid another kick from a pointy cowboy boot? Ouch! That's physical pain. I only saw it. I only watched his sad life in 3D. I only imagined he had no sense of trust, lacked bonding and ended up a prime product of Dysfunctional Families 101, thus repeating the cycle and so on and so on and Scooby Dooby doo-by . . . (Sly & the Family Stone)-get it? If not, just substitute with yadda, yadda, yadda (Seinfeld).

If you don't get that one, quit reading.
Okay, so anyway, I guess I was lucky cuz my mom was so far ahead of her time and decided to be sexually active in high school in the 1950's, thus producing me. Out of wedlock, a bastard, sneaky fetus, any terminology equaling big mistake, she could not-would not- did not want in any way, as in admission or claim. After a short stint to another state in a 'home' for females in my mother's condition, my grandmother (at the tired age of 43) magically appeared to the general public with a new-born daughter.

A good friend and neighbor who shared the telephone party line worried, "Oh, my, Lois. I thought you had a hysterectomy last year after Betsy was born!"
"No, no Martha. The doctor said I should, but Ray and I thought Betsy needed a little brother or sister for a playmate. Besides, I'm feeling lots better," she forced a smile as she tried to convince herself.

Martha took in her words, but the message got blurred by Lois' body language shouting, "my god I have two babies, I'm too old, I'm trying to hold some dignity. . . And, I have this daughter who whores around, she's out of control, and I don't know what to do . . ." Poor good-hearted enabling grandma. If only Jerry Springer TV existed in 1953. Imagine me, his first guest, with mother, grandmother and several sleazy men, all in search of the baby daddy. TV or not, most likely that was the beginning of my then respectable upper middle-class grandparent's downfall into social, emotional and financial bankruptcy (pretty much single-handedly) due to the antics of one person.

My dear mother. Biological.
In my own estimation-skewed as it was/is, I never stayed exclusively in the darkness due to some luck- or maybe endurance, of Grandma Lois and Grandpa Ray. Those early impressionable years took place in a somewhat nurturing environment with infrequent visits to my 'aunt's' house where those other kids huddled together sweating it out in one tiny bedroom in the stinky smoke-filled trailer where the oldest little sad boy did bad things and got in trouble. A lot.

Ah... Childhood. Betsy and I romped in the pasture and picked tiny purplish crocuses. Helped grandma bake. Rode the tractor with grandpa. Took turns with under pushes on the tire swing. Opened our new dollies at Christmas. Rode bareback on our Shetland pony, Bud. Carved our names on the big oak tree by the crick. We giggled. We played. We were kids. For seven years. Until the day after Thanksgiving in second grade.

When Mother Diana marched into our room followed by a weeping Grandma. "Get packed. You are going home with me." (you're mean. I'm not going with you.)

"I'm your real mom." (you're a liar! I hate you!)

"You are going to live with me now." ( what? Grandma help me!)

"Hurry up, Patty. We don't want slowpokes!" (what if that bad man hits me? can I stay, Grandma?)

I remember being torn away from a death grip on Grandpa Ray's ankle. (what about my puppy? please help!)

"For Christ sake mother, she'll get over it! She's just a kid," Diana hissed to Sobbing Grandma as she yanked me to the station wagon. As she shoved me in, I crawled fast forward over the backseat, scrunched down in an old stale pee blanket, shut my eyes real tight and pretended I was invisible.

I should have stayed there.

Fast forward 40 years holding my mother's clammy limp hand in her hospital room as she struggled to breathe, I gave away my pain and let her go in peace.

When privacy finally happened, I tried to take a real look at the woman sitting in that stiff chair. Her tormented body twitched when she gasped to get air. Those dark eyes flashed a desperate fear, knowing time tortured her as she choked for airevery few minutes. Those dark, sad, scared eyes haunted me. They will haunt me always.

After I allowed that one moment of honest emotion to wash over me, I told her my
short story. It was kinda like our routine in some ways; I felt like I was the mom trying to let the child know she was being good. She needed to know. She needed to know that I knew.

Selfish thoughts mulled around in my head.

No, mom this isn't the price of your lies. I'll carry that crucible. Of course, you loved to smoke tobacco more than you loved your kids and grandkids. The bitterness tried to take control.

Then I grabbed reality again and remembered my mission. Forgiveness. Forgive and find peace. Not sure if that's to me or to my dying mother. "It's okay, mom. I know the truth and it's okay." Even more panic shadowed those desperate sleepless eyes." No, mom. Just listen to me. I love you and it's all okay." The tortured eyes seemed to question me, so I just came out with it.

"Mom, I know that you lied about my real dad. I know you were just trying to protect me. You should have told me the truth, but I didn't ask. It's okay. I love you." With a soft whisper I pleaded, "Just let go and find some peace." I think she tried to squeeze my hand a little, or maybe I just wanted her to. I choked back a sob as I gathered myself. I wondered what she was thinking and if she wondered what I was thinking. Knowing the shallow nature of our past, I went on to assure her nobody else knew that I knew. I told her I would never say anything to anyone (I guess to hell with truth, after all). Then my hand went to her chin as I studied her eyes and lowered my stubborn defense.

"Mom, I love you anyway. It's okay. I forgive you. You need to forgive yourself." Against her cheek I managed, " We're good. Just let go. I love you. We all love you." I placed a quick dry kiss on her wet forehead and whispered again, "I love you, Mom. It'll be okay."

An hour or so later, that tiny room oozed with pain. And maybe some peace. I felt like I was looking in on a snapshot, a still scene. But, the main event was death. Dad held her when she passed. The children sobbed. For ourselves, for her, for everything. As I gazed at her through weeping eyes one final time, I think some peace settled in. I hope she found peace. I hope I forgave her.


A lifetime later, or another ten years, I wonder if guilt turns forgiveness to pain.
. . . so following some happily ever after parts in my life consumed with self pity, (which included discovering more deception in biology, two failed marriages, several psychiatric sessions and prescriptions for psycho-tropic drugs.

And, creating a co-dependent child, on-going moderate depression, too much gambling and a diverse list of other self-destructive behaviors) deep breath, I've made a conscientious decision to try to grow up. Hence, I write. It's an attempt to rut under the sarcastic exterior. Try to see myself. But, I am afraid of the darkness.
My next mission is to become a game show contestant (successful, of course) and/or win the lottery. Then, my financial goals will be attained thus causing peace, harmony and ultra-happiness in my life and in any person's life who avails himself to the pleasure of my company.

But, now I must think ahead. When I take my turn. When I must face my own motherly failures.

Still, I search and seek that one simple word. Forgiveness.

Forgive myself. Ask my children to forgive me. Find some peace.

Forgive . . .

Author's Bio

EJ Young Bio
Through the years as a single parent-preceded by the usual dysfunction of childhood (unless you're Beaver Cleaver), an infrequent writing burst appeared in my journal. Hampered slightly by depression, combined with creative excuses (some 'borrowed' from students), getting focused didn't/doesn't always happen for me. The past few months have tested my ambition, or lack thereof, as I find myself instantly jobless after 24 years invested in education as a high school English teacher.

Fast forward 25 years and maybe I'd like to be a writer when I grow up. I guess the fantasy of getting rich on a TV game show just ain't happenin'. With the support of my fam-including my biggest fan, two-year-old granddaughter Anna, I stare at the keyboard and wonder how to write again. Getting through to the other side of cheesy cliches about Anna's innocence and cuteness is way more difficult than even the cynical EJ anticipated. (And, there's a pet peeve. Please don't refer to yourself in third person. It appears so self-absorbing or self centered or selfish. Okay, it's just stupid. Don't do it!). Tiny spurts of competence come through during sleep deprived nights aided by RLS, arthritic pain and psychological stress.

My goal is to ease away from self-destructive habits, read more, complain less and attend workshops and conferences hoping to catch that 'flair' I once mastered as a writer.

Official Data: Married. Three children. My philosophy: 1. Don't judge. 2. Don't hate. 3. Don't allow your life to be influenced by judgmental haters. That's about it. Plus, I love popcorn, spending time with the fam, watching Baby Anna, MN Twins baseball, living in Polk County Iowa and, of course, writing rambling fragments.

2 comments:

mamasita said...

Forgiveness..an ingredient in life which always appears at the end of the journey..and then there is nothing to forgive anymore..

masterwordsmith said...

Very wise words, dear Datin Mamasita.

May you be blessed as you forgive others who trespass against you during this holy month..

Salam, my dear friend.