My mother died in my arms 4 mos ago. Feb 26,2012. She died with me rocking her, and repeating to her, in her ear.."I love you" I love you, I love you Mom". 7 children, I was the one who was with her every day since she went into hospice 18 mos earlier. I learned, I was the lucky one. She lived a tortured life, marrying my dad at 17, 7 kids in 10 yrs, losing one twin when she was 18, 47 moves from base to base, and after dad retired from the Air Force, his new position kept them moving .They were both alcoholics. They both beat us. .They punched our faces . At one time, I remember, each of us had our "own" croquet mallet, not for a game, but in the house, leaning in different corners near her work station, the kitchen, to be disciplined with . It seems so weird, but on a military base, in the 60's, it was kept quiet. No questions asked by any neighbors or teachers... no one. It must have been just the way it was. Normal then.....Mom would wrap swelling , cover bruises , and treat our pain and any high fever with screwdrivers, vodka and orange juice. She made us lay on the sofa when ill or injured, she placed a screwdriver in our hand, and she said..sip it up , sip it up!!!! We did, because we had to. We never saw a Dr. until we had moved out, mandatory, at age 18, no questions asked. Boys went to college, girls "Go find a husband"..
As she aged, widowed, and osteo arthritis kept her frozen in a bed for 2 yrs., her heart failing,unable to move.......
I learned to love her.
To forgive her.
Because of that, I am the lucky one.
Now, instead of remembering the chaotic and horrific past, I am focusing on how she made me happy. It makes me feel better. I'm allowed that.
We moved about every 9 mos, so Mom just didn't make friends. She stayed inside. She said she would never plant a tree, because we moved so often, we would never see it grow.. Same with friends
She made me happy when, sometimes, usually in the evenings, she would be outside, in front of our Air Force base housing, So she must have been under 35. In the early 1960's.. and she was happy. So so rare for me, a 10 yr old, to watch,. It was just so different, I couldn't move as I watched. I remember trying to breathe quietly. Just my eyes moved. I stood at a distance. On those rare occasions, she would be engaged in conversation with another Mother or two, laughing, excited at the company of like females, with some same interests...they would laugh and laugh. I would look at her face. She had lipstick on. She looked so pretty, And I saw her smile, a beautiful smile, and I just couldn't couldn't stop staring.
She would be so excited, and glow with glee..... When the mosquitoes started to bite too much, or it was just getting too late to be out in the yard laughing, they would all part, and I remember my Mom running, yes running home, passing the fireflies, through the door,the screen door banging and bouncing, Mom just giddy with happiness . I quietly followed her. During those few moments, she had, a friend, or even two. If even for only those few moments, it was magical to see her so happy . And for days, I stared at her, in the VW bus when she was driving, while she cooked hash for dinner for 9 in that big cast iron skillet, while we waited outside in line at the tiny base commissary for a shopping cart, I couldn't stop staring at her face, remembering that different lady, a happy one . And that made me happy.