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Tears for my Mother

November 10, 2008

I spent most of my life trying to get away from home. Maybe it was the abuse, the pain, or the hope for something better. Whatever the case, home never nurtured my heart.

I never understood why my mom stayed. Maybe it was for the same reasons I wanted to leave, except she had lost hope for something better. Even still, she never doubted by choices.

“That’s why I homeschooled you” she used to say as I begged her to let me go to school. “You’re my bird and I know someday you’ll fly far away, so I’m keeping you here with me for as long as I can.” I hated that answer, but part of me knew it would be true.


My mom and I have had our moments together. There was the time my dad chased her around the house in a drunken rage. I called the police and they took him away, until he broke in through our basement window early that morning and made us all sit on the couch for three hours so he could explain how it was my mom’s fault that my second brother died. She didn’t get her to the doctor soon enough, he tried to tell us. I told him to go to hell.

And then there was the time my mom had to kick my dying father out of the house because he had just slapped me across the face. I had been defending her. Again. But this time, I told her I wasn’t coming home anymore.

Shortly thereafter, my dad died. I moved home to help her pay for the mortgage and because I wanted to heal my heart and make my house a home. But her own guilt and grief turned into aggression, and she decided that I needed to fly far away from her. And I did.

Since then, I’ve seen four universities, two marriages, and five states. And it was never really okay with us until my son arrived. Maybe it was because she had lost a son, or because she had always wanted another child. But all the years of pain and hurt ended the instant she knew I was having a baby.


I have finally landed, for now. And just like she said, it’s far away from her. And now I have a little bird of my own who sees his “Mimi” only twice a year. But during those glorious visits, that “Mimi” helps him collect rocks from our driveway that my son treats like fine gemstones. Together they pick handfuls of clovers, proudly displaying them in a plastic cup on our mantle. And they dance together, my son’s head on her shoulder, nestled tightly in her arms. And when “Mimi” leaves, my son cries. And for the first time ever, so do I.

I want my baby to grow up near his beloved grandmother. But what I’ve come to realize is that I want to be near my mom just as much. Maybe it’s because I know she tried to do the same with me and I wish we could try again – this time without the alcohol and abuse driving us into our own dysfunction. Or maybe it’s because I regret wasting all those years running away from someone who needed me as much as I needed her.

And as many tears as I have cried trying to get away from her, I now spend the same wishing she was right here with me. Tears cried not just for my son, but for me too.

*My brother died on December 18, 1980 (yes, the day after my birthday) from spinal meningitis. He was on life support and to save me a life of crappy birthdays, they stopped it on December 18. The birthdays are still crappy.

He was 9 months old. I remember him, although the circumstances surrounding it are a bit tougher to recall. He was well, then he was sick, and then he was gone forever. I used to have nightmares about it and it’s still hard for me to swallow. It hit me incredibly hard when my own son was 9 months old and I realized how awful it was for my mom.

And it wasn’t her fault. Granted the specialist sucked, but word is he had an immune deficiency. However, chances are the new HIB vaccine would probably have saved him.

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