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The beginning of June

June 8, 2017

The end of May, beginning of June is a hard time. I blame it on my mother for leaving so many open wounds.  Hell, from as far back as I can remember we weren’t close.  I don’t remember getting a hug from her.  Ever.  I don’t remember hearing my mother tell me she loved me.  I thought maybe I blocked it out due to years of fighting.  She fought with alcohol, and I fought to get away.  My older sister confirmed it. It was no dream. We were unloved.

I remember school programs and events she didn’t attend.  Other kids so happy as their beaming mom wrapped her arms securely around them after a choir concert.  I busied myself with finding a ride home or hoofing it almost three miles through the darkness at that time of night. It would be loud when I got home if she was awake. This was long before cell phones.  I couldn’t text my sister to see if it was safe to walk in the front door, or to get warning that she was drunk, and sneaking in the basement would allow me to go right to bed.

I learned to appreciate the long evening walks and quiet streets. I played a game with myself; how many sleeping dogs could I creep past without walking them.  I called every dog “mom” on these journeys.  The barking and snarling signified the hell that would unleash if mother woke up when I got home.

The beginning of June meant no place to escape for hours.  School was out.  So I learned her drinking patterns and used any door or window available to escape the house. I’m sure the neighbors had plenty to say about her wandering brood.  The back yard was a haven to escape as well.  I’d hear her call me from the window, and I ignored her.  I blamed it on the dogs, geese and ducks, or the neighbors’ donkey being too loud.

It was a day in early June, not many years after, that I left home with no plans to ever go back. They moved to Florida, while my sister and I stayed in Washington. I then moved to Michigan. So many years of silence between myself and my mother.  I eventually moved to Florida while ending a bad marriage.  I had hoped the years had mellowed her, especially her cutting words.  I was wrong. I had no door to sneak in so I faced her. She had a beer in her hand.  No hug. No small talk. Not even a smile  She simply looked at me and stated “You finally came crawling back.”  It was early June.

I got back on my feet. Mom and I spent the next 18 years in a twilight zone.  We could talk on the phone for hours but were not able to stand in the same room.  I lived, usually, about 30 minutes away, but got on with my life like it was 3,000 miles.  When I had kids, I told them I loved them. I hugged them. I played with them.  Mom and I didn’t share that special little joy most moms and daughters enjoy when grand kids show up.  She did softened a little towards the grand kids.  I tried to talk to her about our odd relationship, keeping the distance emotionally.  I didn’t want my kids thinking we were a normal mother and daughter. She wouldn’t have it.

In early June of 2000, I moved to Mississippi for my job. She found out she had cancer a week later.  I offered to move back to help her out.  She asked if I needed to come crawling back.  That door slammed hard.  It was a three hour drive between our houses, but it could have been 300.  I stayed away. I hugged my kids more. I told them I loved them every day.

The last six months of her life, I came over to help my dad as much as possible.  He needed a break, even if it was just running to Winn Dixie to get away.  We talked more, empty subjects about nothing important, and certainly not about relationships.  We could never talk about past.  I didn’t bring it up, I didn’t want to rile her.

The last months and weeks of her life was difficult. She got weaker in body, but still the stubborn mind.  The time came for all of us to gather for the last days.  She passed away at home, with her children and husband caring for her until her last breath.  She died 16 years ago on the first of June.

~R~

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From → Family, Growing Up

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