TRIGGER WARNING BEFORE READING:
This post might have a lot of trigger effects in it. So, if you suffer from depression, abuse, or are an extreme emotional state – this post will emotional triggers in it for you.
As you would expect from me, I’m going to keep this real and raw. I’m not one to ever sugar coat anything, so why expect anything less of me now? I’m wanting to give you a full insight of my mom and my family.
I’m not exactly sure what to start with everything. I’m not even sure exactly what I want to say, so this is going to be a rough start to a journey and connecting dots, and hopefully I will wind up making sense somehow.
On July 1st, 2018 at 4:20pm, my mother drew her last breath on this planet.
Go figure that my mom WOULD take her last breath at that specific time. She lived her life enjoying the free hippie love life. She loved smoking pot, as a hippie should. She was never shy about the fact of her 420 smoking habit. My mom just didn’t know that she was going to be encouraged to continue smoking it on her death bed to try to increase her appetite and ease and type of pain that she was in. It only worked a tiny bit for her constant pain that she was in. The liquid morphine helped take care of the rest.
This would be the last photo that my mom and I would ever have together. This was on her phone. She accidentally took a screen shot of us talking about her onset of coming home to finish out the last of her days in this world.
I was talking with her and the hospice nurses of what to expect. If you look in my eyes, you can see me holding back tears because I wanted to be strong in front of my mom and not break down.
This was the last coherent conversation I had with my mom.
I had to suck those tears in and be the optimistic son that was expected of me. It was my job. To shit sunshine out of my ass. It’s not say that I didn’t believe what I was saying, because I meant every word of encouragement that I said. However, it’s hard saying, “Mom…stop eating that food. I know it’s making you sick. Try eating peanut butter. It’s easier on your stomach and it’ll help put weight on you.”
“Look mom…I found more food you can eat!” And she would get excited about trying to eat that food, but she never got around to eating it.
Nothing stayed in her stomach. She constantly threw up.
Before I get too caught in talking about my mom’s battle with Mesothelioma, let’s take it back to the beginning, shall we?
This is my mom’s school year photo from 1966. It looks like they couldn’t decide if it was from ’65 or ’66, so they stuck with ’66. Which is just par for the course with my family. We’re never really sure when things have happened, so we take a year we think it happened and go with it.
This is totally that one photo that you can tell that she is my mother, as well as my two sisters. We all look exactly like this around this age.
She had the bluest of eyes. It’s no wonder the men lined up for.
In school, just like me and my siblings, she was a bit awkward and never really fit in. However, when she hit high school, she did start to grow more into her personage.
And what type of person was that? An animal lover.
Her WHOLE entire life she loved animals. I remember stories that my grandparents would tell me about her wanting to save every single harmed or abandoned animal that she came across.
Here are the photos to prove it.
This was my mom’s pet raccoon, Rags. She found rags as an abandoned little baby, and “rescued” him to be her very own.
Then we have her pet squirrel, Skeeterbug.
My grandparents said she was basically an animal whisperer, and they never knew what type of animal she was going to come home with next.
That would stay true her whole life…until her last breath. She loved saving animals. She loved her cats, the most.
Jim Carey from the Pet Detective had nothing on my mom.
I’ve seen her nurse puppies, kittens, birds, and every other type of animal you can think of. It was her gift…the gift of taking care of animals. Which would make sense later in life when she became a pet groomer and a vet’s assistant.
The Not-so Gleeful Ringing of Wedding Bells
My mom got married at the ripe age of 18, which was shortly after she found out that she was pregnant with me. She married a man that would soon be the creator of nightmares for her, my biological dad.
I remember every single time that my dad slapped my mom, punched her, kicked her, tried to stab her with a knife while she was holding my little sister in her arms, the countless holes he punched in the walls, the times he would beat me, call me a faggot, and drag me by hair from one room to the next for another beating. I remember it all.
I remember the day that my mom left my dad. It was via the fire escape from my bedroom window. Angela didn’t want to eat her scrambled eggs for dinner, and my dad wasn’t having any of that…so he physically punished Angela with his hands.
My mom decided that that was the last straw on the camel’s back. She did the bravest thing that she knew to do: Sneak out of my bedroom window while he was passed out from an alcohol induced coma. She encouraged him to keep drinking. It was part of her plan to escape him.
I remember us being in the back of the cop car the next day so we could return to the house to get a few more items of clothing and such. I remember seeing my dad swinging some kind of metal pipe at the cops. He had already visited his mom that lived in the same apartment complex with his…and beat her with a pipe because she wouldn’t tell him where we were.
Thus…a new chapter in our life was to begin. I was so proud of my mom to have the courage to leave. It takes a lot of strength to leave any type of physically & emotionally violent situation.
She took on this new challenge in life while we lived in a battered women’s shelter and got settled into our very first apartment in Plainfield, NJ.
She took an at home study course to get High School Diploma and become a Vet’s Assistant. She was doing her while taking care of us.
Then came my mom’s second husband. Ironically, both of my “dads” had the same first name. Edward. He wound up great at first, until is alcoholism and physical abused showed through to my mom. It was as if she couldn’t catch a break.
It would also be at this time that my second dad got her addicted to crack. They were making a decent amount of money, and would always give me money to take my sisters out of the house so they could bend their coke cans and smoke their crack.
I had a mental breakdown from it all, and sat in a corner bashing my head from one side of the wall to other side…just crying. I couldn’t take it anymore. I lost it.
My mom had the courage to quit her addiction and leave her second husband. So it was off to Georgia we went to live with my Aunt Stella, and start a brand new life all over again. She had so much courage and breadth to be able to move us all again. To try a fresh start one more time.
My mom was at her happiest that she had ever been when we moved down to Georgia, while we lived with my Aunt Stella. This was photo was of our first Christmas that we celebrated in Collins, Georgia.
From there, we moved to a single wide trailer in Reidsville, GA and then eventually upgraded to a 3 bedroom house. It’s as if we were finally able to start breathing in this new life…for now. Cause you know, things always change and life changes at a rapid pace.
I remember when I got my first job as a bag boy. I never received a big paycheck. Most of it went for groceries and stuff for the house. Back in the day, we were allowed to charge things against our paychecks. My paychecks kept on getting smaller and smaller.
It was at that time that I started to disconnect from my mom. I felt like the was becoming something else…someone else…different than what I had imagined in my perfect little mind.
Example: You could hear my mom coming from a mile away because of her chains she wore on her hip. Now, my mom had some hips…that’s an absolute truth! But you could her keychain rattling away as she got closer and closer. She started dressing more like a biker chic in style. She started wearing a bandana around everywhere. She loved wearing bandanas until she passed away.
Honestly, I was a embarrassed by it. It wasn’t a nice feeling having my mom come to school dressed like that, and then to listen to the comments from the ignorant small town staff at the school.
The one thing that I will say about my mom during that time is that she knew how to make a dollar. During pecan season, she was going to everyone she knew to pick them and cash them in. She was on it.
IF they weren’t in season, you could see her on the side of the ride picking up cans to take to the recycling plant to earn extra cash. IF there was a dollar to be made, she would try to make it.
She wasn’t the best cook, but she made sure there was food on the table and the bills paid in the best way that she can. I take that back, my mom could make a mean Salmon Patty biscuits with cream sauce. That was go to dish, besides making the best date nut bread.
Regardless of Anything, She Always supported Me.
My mom went through a world of emotional hurt. I was taken in by the Eason family, my “adopted” family. My mom’s boyfriend at the time had raped Angela. Fingers were first pointed at me for sexually molesting her, but he was the one that raped her. He had “un-welcomed” sex with her.
Angela told the police it was me, but the whole world knew that wasn’t true. But I was given no choice but to have to move out. This choice was given to me and my mom from DYFS.
A world of emotional hurt for her.
I decided that I still needed to move on with life, and that there was something out there better for me. I didn’t graduate high school, but I certainly went to college…and my mom cheered me on the whole time.
I was in an Open Hearts ministry program at Brewton Parker College. She was there for my plays, me signing for my college choir, came to my handbell performances, and all while she could. She loved my college whole-heartedly. She loved the opportunity that it gave to me to achieve my educational goals that I had wanted in life.
After I graduated college, I felt that the only time my mom called me was when tragedy struck the family or if she needed money.
I Distanced Myself from my Mom.
I didn’t agree with anything about her lifestyle, and I started distancing myself. I couldn’t bear the phone calls of bad news or the needing of money. I felt like an ATM machine, and I was getting sicker to the bone about it.
I know that my mom felt the distance happening. Sometimes, I feel that it’s my fault that she was going down a different path of life. I felt that it was my fault because she knew that I didn’t love her enough.
I loved my mom, but at a point in my life…I didn’t love her. I loved her and didn’t love her at the same time. I didn’t want to hug her, but I did. My skin would crawl when she hugged me…and I would roll my eyes. I didn’t want to let own about how much I had such disdain for her. How horrible would it be to know that your very own child hates you? I never wanted to let on.
But I know she felt it. She felt it in my empty hugs, blank stares, and fake smiles. She felt it in the rushed phone calls. She felt it when I didn’t visit often.
I remember the one time when my mom was married to her 3rd husband, Troy…that she asked what I wanted for Christmas. The only thing I wanted was a black bomber leather jacket. She scrimped and saved, and got me that leather jacket. She was so proud of it, and so proud that she was able to get me that black leather bomber jacket.
Yet…I still distanced myself more and more. My great grandmother died when I graduated college during an internship. I’ve never felt such sorrow and grief. I made a decision to move to New Jersey to be closer to my grandparents and other family members.
I kept that distance, still.
A few years ago, I closed the gap in our relationship. I forgave her for all of the decisions she made in life. I had to fully heal myself so I could help heal whatever strand of relationship that we had…and we healed. And I love my mom.
I would say I loved my mom, but it’s not past tense. I love my mom.
She was not a perfect woman. No one is. But she was, in the end, perfectly my mom. I am wanting to honor my love her in these words that I’m writing in my small little world on the internet. She deserves that much from me.
I love you mom.
My Mom Loved a Good Karaoke Bar
There was no karaoke bar left unvisited along the eastern seaboard that my mom wasn’t in. She loved karaoke more than life itself. Well not really, but still. And you could always find my sister not that far away from her.
She always had a couple of staple songs in her repertoire: White Rabbit, and Summer Nights from Grease. She would be guaranteed to sing those two songs every…single…time. Then a little Eagles, Kansas, and a few others.
But if there is anything in life that she loved more than animals. More than karaoke. More than the plants around the house that she was always so proud of…and I think maybe even more than her children….are her grandchildren.
Her Grandchildren literally gave her breath of life every day. She loved them vehemently. My sisters and I aren’t even upset about how much she loved them, or how much she tried to provide the best she could. I don’t think she ever said no to one child.
She would drive them up and down the roads, and to where they wanted to. If they needed something…if they wanted something…if she had it, it was theirs. If she didn’t have it, she would find a way to get it for them.
She did this up until the very moment came where she had absolutely no energy to do it. Silently, it gave her hope. It gave her love. It gave her another moment to enjoy life in doing something for grand babies.
She would learn all about Pokemon…and then Pokemon became her new collection obsession.
She would learn to love anime, as her grand babies loved anime.
She would fall in love with cheerleading all over again, as two of her grand babies were carrying on the cheerleading tradition for me. She drove them to competitions and anywhere that they were required to be. She. Was. There.
I Am Now Lost in This Turbulent Life.
I’m not literally lost, but my heart is. I’ve spent so many years in distancing myself from her, that I feel that I wasted those years of loving her for just the person that she was…and accepting her for the person she was…is.
I know that everything happens in life for a reason, and everything comes full circle in the end.
So, I’m sorry mom. I’m sorry that I distanced myself from you.
Mom, I’m sorry that I distanced myself from you to give you the full love of me.
I’m sorry that it took me being an adult to understand the true sacrifices that you did for us. I’m sorry for the many times that you put yourself last, and us first…and that I didn’t truly appreciate it at the time. I’m sorry that I took my damaged goods and put them onto you.
I love you mom. Please forgive me. Please know that upon your last breath, I want you to know that I love you. Your death has crushed my soul, and I plan on honoring your life. We didn’t always have the best life, but it was the best that you could provide.
I love you mom. Rest in peace in knowing that I love you. I’m sorry that I wasn’t there for you while you gave your last breath, but do know that I breathe for you now because you can’t.
I love you mom. Your memories of life will cherished by many.
I love you mom. I will keep your memory alive by sharing constant stories with your grand babies. I will pass to them your recipe for your date nut bread, and promise that I will teach someone in the family to crochet and knit, as generations have before us have taught you.
I love you mom. I have an angel on my tree in memory of you.
I love you mom. I don’t want to stop writing. I feel if I stop writing at this very moment, that you will go unnoticed. That time is moving forward without you in it.
I love you mom. You’ll not have to worry about Angela and Jeni being taken care of, nor your grand babies. I will do my best to be there for them.
I love you mom. I’m going to stop writing for now. I am wishing for that one more phone call. I am wishing that I didn’t delete so many of your voicemails. I saved two of your voicemails. One of which would be the last time you sang happy birthday to me. I will continue to save it to share with everyone.
I love you mom. Infinity.