Tuesday, May 09, 2006
I cry and celebrate normal events in my kid's lives:
My 15 year old daughter, Heather, got her temporary license for driving yesterday. A normal event to any mom except to me. I am a motherless daughter since 1980. We left the DMV and as we got to the car I put my arm around her and handed her the keys. I couldn't stop "holding" her and of course the tears started to flow uncontrollably. Heather understood though, just as she understood why I cried in the dressing room when it was time to shop for school clothes every August. And when it was time for her violin concert, her swim meet or any other event that a mother is usually present at. And here was another event, a milestone that took me back to the day in 1985 when I turned 16 and headed for the DMV. Coming home to an empty apartment and feeling the pain that I could not share this with my mom. I have a husband and a son too. But with my daughter, it has always been EXTRA special. I have thanked God daily for letting me witness what other mom's take for granted. Why did I cry at all those events? Because my mother never got to be there for most of those events. She isn't even there now to share a phone call with regarding her grandchildren's life.That is the frustrating part. The injustice, the "it's just not fair!" part of my life. The part that makes me want to throw myself to the floor and have a temper tantrum until I get my way with God. It's crazy because when I cook, I still use her utensils. A spatula, spoon and pizza cutter. What an inheritance, eh? But when my adult hand grips the exact place where her adult hand gripped I feel close to her. I see her standing in the kitchen making dinner and I pretend I am there again. I study the items in the kitchen, what she is wearing and the smell of her peanut butter cookies baking. I used to envision her being lost and coming back. She would not know me now. I am a different parent than she ever was. She was permissive. I am more strict with my children. But still I allow my mind to go to that place sometimes where I see her standing at my house one state away from my childhood home in Ohio, knocking at the front door. Who is that old woman I wonder? But as I get closer I notice those tiny eyes and that contagious laugh. I study her frame and usher her in. She wants to catch up. She can't stop staring at me. I don't need to confirm anything I just want to update her fast so we can start having an additional grandma for these grandchildren. But soon the "fantasy" just doesn't fit and I cancel it out in my mind. Too much time has gone by. It's been too long since I was a child. The fantasy doesn't work. The kids are too old and probably wouldn't be able to bond with this frail old woman of what would now be her age of 80. Still, I cannot relate this to anyone I know because they have parents in tact or their mother died at a ripe old age. They think I am stuck in the past (yeah, sometimes I am) and some are gentle about it, some are pointed about it. Get over it...right? My mother died on January 5, 1980. It's my 9/11/2001, my Nov. 22, 1963 day. It's the day my childhood ended.
My dad, mom and I were on our way to the bank and as we crossed an intersection a garbage truck hit her side. My dad and I survived. At least physically. She was 53 and I was 10 (six days from my 11th birthday). Their only child. Unequivocally, it was the rug ripped out from under me. The accident was big news and the next morning, there was the demolished car and a fireman carrying me to the ambulance on the front page. I still have the front page picture and article. A few days after the funeral the neighbors threw me a subdued eleventh birthday party. My dad could not attend as he was still in the intensive care unit. He also could not pick out her casket or attend the funeral. The family was in shock so I did it. I think to myself now, as an adult, HOW COULD ANYONE LET A CHILD PICK OUT A CASKET?!" But they did. I was wracked with guilt for years because I didn't go to the second "showing" at the funeral home. I just couldn't take it. Couldn't take seeing her laying there with silly glasses on and bruised up. Her real glasses were kept by my aunt who was paranoid they would get buried with her. So, just before the showing she went and bought these silly looking frames. I stayed home and watched TV with a neighbor trying to pretend things were still the same. They never were again. One time a therapist asked me about my childhood and I kept talking about life before the age of ten. She finally said to me "Do you realize you’re relating to your adulthood as age eleven to the present time? That is not adulthood. Eighteen and over is traditionally". No, I told her. Adulthood started for me on 1/6/1980!