Monday, November 15, 2004

Remembering My Mother

Today is my mother's birthday. Well, birthDATE.

My mom died in the early 90s from bone cancer and a slew of other factors that she was pretty much in denial about. Something about drinking and liver disease. I don't usually have a strong, nasty tone when I talk of my mother but something hit me early Saturday morning when I woke from a dream about my mom and the house I called home.

When I've discussed my childhood, I've always mentioned the alcholism, the fact that I was an adult child of the disease, that I was a caregiver to my mother, that I grew up fast and was a good kid in spite of the conditions that surrounded me. I've always loved my mother deeply and still do if loving the dead is something the living can actually do.

Before her death, we talked about days past, feelings felt and impressions left. I felt settled when she died. I'd come to terms with my upbringing, with her parenting, with her, the woman she became and the woman I was still becoming. I'd let go of grudges, anger, and the shitload of old emotional baggage. When my mom took her last breath with me on the phone, I'd felt that it was the final release of her pain and that was a relief to me.

When I woke up crying Saturday morning, I felt a weight on me again, a weight I'd not felt for many years. I felt angry, I was pissed, I was picturing the images in my dream, images from the house I grew up in and was always ashamed of. The house that my mom used to harbor junk, dirt, disease, was the same place I was supposed to see as a safe-haven from the world around me. I knew no one else who lived in a house like mine and I always wanted better. I woke up remembering:
  • The dog chained to the tree at the very back of the yard. What kind of protection could he POSSIBLY have provided?
  • The non-working, rusting car behind the house. Why did I always have to mow around that piece of junk?
  • The house that smelled like dog piss for YEARS! The furniture and carpets were stained and stiff from the constant urination of in-house dogs.
  • The countless cardboard boxes and paper bags that stored valueless items. The depression ended YEARS ago, really, it did.
  • The bedroom I shared with my mother while my brother was living with us. How could she DARE bring men into that room while I was asleep?
  • The stench of rotting and molding items from a basement that flooded several times a year. The one valuable item she owned was a stereo she brought back from Germany and she left it to bathe in flood water. I never understood that.
  • The noise when she and my older siblings would gather for partying. My bedroom never offered the sanctuary I sought. I still yearn for silence as an adult.

I don't know why those painful memories haunted me in my sleep the other night. Is it because I'm feeling the sense of dissatisfaction as I embark on a life-changing event? Is it telling me that I have come a long way and I should be satisfied with the achievement and progress I've made so far? Is it because I've never shared those remembered details with anyone and I just needed to release them? I don't know. I do know that I awoke with an urge to write and that is not an urge that strikes me very often. I suppose I am thankful to have had that be a catalyst for action because I am feeling the freeing sensation as I type now.


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