So, the one year anniversary of my mother’s death is coming up in less than a week and I get the overwhelming sensation that I’m expected to write some kind of ode or memorial regarding the woman who gave me life.
Well, this is as good as it’s going to get.
A dear friend of mine who had also lost her mother about a year before I had lost mine, posted this lovely little meme on Facebook a while ago that said something about, “Oh mother, how I miss you, how I wish you were here to hold me in your arms when I’m lost and give me words of wisdom when I am clueless,” and other such sugary sappy sentiments and she tagged me with a very well-meaning, sweet note that said, “You know what it’s like, right Ray?” And that’s when it hit me…
No, I don’t.
And though I know I’m not alone and I know it could’ve been worse, I have absolutely no idea what it’s like to miss my mother’s “loving arms” or hear the sageful teachings of experience to guide me when I was lost. I have no idea what it’s like to have a mother who genuinely loved her children as good people she had raised and nurtured to be successful, happy young women. I have no idea what the hell those Hallmark cards are talking about.
Christina Crawford wrote, “Mommie Dearest” because she got sick and tired of strangers telling her how much they loved and missed her mother, Joan, and hearing what a wonderful woman she was. My mother had also done much for the community, very similar to the way Joan Crawford had done for charity, even at her children’s expense. The public at large, before she resigned her place and consciously allowed herself to fester into her own self-destruction of obesity, depression, and pain, perceived my mother as a pillar of strength. She was remembered by my high school and Hudson Valley peers with such fondness, I didn’t have the heart to correct them. I figured there was no harm in letting their memories remain untainted.
I wouldn’t tell them about how I was named out of revenge because my father named my older sister after a stewardess he had a crush on; Ray is obviously not my real name, I was legally named after the aunt who was willing to pay for a divorce if my mother ever wanted one. I wouldn’t tell them about the times when we went to her for “sagely advice” or help because we were bullied, hurt, or victimized and was answered with denial or turned away. I wouldn’t tell them about the hundreds of times I told her to stop touching me inappropriately and she’d laugh as I cried until after 20 years of it and dozens of warnings, I had to hit her to get her to finally stop. I wouldn’t tell them about the times she scared my boyfriends, potential employers, and friends away, volunteered my services without asking me, or the time when there was an electrical surge in the house and instead of making arrangements for her children’s safety, she said, “If I’m going to die, I want my children to go with me.”
And the lies…the lies, the lies, the lies, everything from what was in her non-existent Will to the way she played one sister against the other for years.
She had told me that when she went into labor with me, I was upside-down and backwards. She said that while she was on her back, all she could hear were the doctors say, “Okay, here’s a hip…there’s an arm…okay, we have a foot,” and thought I was coming out in pieces. So, when it was all over and the doctor presented me to her, he said, “Congratulations, you have a healthy, beautiful baby girl,” her response was, “Great. I’m gonna kill her.”
And that was my welcome to the Earth.
Loving arms? She blamed me for making her sick. Sagely advice? “You’ll never succeed. You’ll always need someone to take care of you.” When I didn’t wear makeup, she said I needed it. If I wore makeup, she said I looked like a clown. I never did anything right — No one in my family could do anything right! She was a money bully with a narcissistic personality disorder hell bent on elevating and destroying herself while living vicariously through her children whom she needed to need her. Everything she gave us, she resented and became jealous of what we had.
She forced her poison placenta through an iron umbilical cord that we just could not cut.
Was she evil? No. My mother was a sick woman, mentally, emotionally, and physically, who did not want to use her plentiful resources or do the work to make herself well, at her family’s expense. Her biggest dream, her highest goal was to die. So, when she finally did, it felt strange. It seemed unreal and though it took a while, I did find the tears to mourn her. However, it wasn’t until months after that that I realized I wasn’t mourning my mother…I was mourning a mother.
I miss a mother who would’ve held me in her arms when I was crying or scared. I miss a mother who could have offered me sagely advice when I was confused. I miss a mother who taught me about the world and how I can find my place in it. I miss a mother who thought I was beautiful, even if she didn’t understand me.
I miss a mother who would have brought me into the world with love.
And though I acknowledge and accept that she was who she was and because of that I became who I am, I still miss someone I never had. My heart aches for that matriarch who made me feel safe and special. I miss that parent who helped me find my strength, not put me in a position to find it on my own. My tears are not for the woman who raised me, but for the woman she could have been. (My sister’s companion piece to this post, “The Jewish Boy Who Came To Help” http://donnaverteramo.wordpress.com/2014/03/06/the-jewish-boy-who-came-to-help/)
And now it’s too late.
It’s also Adrian Smith’s birthday, too. So, what am I planning to do to commemorate the 1 year anniversary of my mother’s death? Listen to Maiden.