It’s 3:42 pm
So my mother passed away last week. She had been sick with a whole slew of health problems for quite some time.
She lived in Bremerton,Mahington for about 30 years or so,in a small house across the street from the ocean. I visited the house once when my brother Peter was killed. I never wanted to go back after that.
My relationship with my mom was always different from most,I learned alot about what NOT to do in life from her example.
I wasn’t raised by my mother,we were taken away from her by child protective services or whatever it was called back then. We were living in a car in an alley when it happened. I never knew that until my sister Christine found that out when we were burying our father about 3 years ago.
By then my mother had already given birth to my half-brother with a different man,had my sister Rose but gave her up for adoption and then had me and Christine. Later on she had another baby boy who died at one day old.
By the time that my mother had put her life somewhat order,all of us kids were scattered up and down California. My mother met her new boyfriend and later husband and had Peter. Then my half-brother came to live with her and then myself and Christine.
By the time Christine moved back with her family,we had moved 5 times ourselves. My brother Phil was born when my mom had her best moments in running her own cleaning business. I saved her husband’s life after he was bit by a black widow. (I know,right?)
Slowly my mom’s business went south and then crumbled together and we were forced to move again. Christine left and so 6 people moved into a tiny 2 bedroom house in Ontario. My half-brother left to join the US Navy and we actually were able to have food in the house the day after we bought it.
I stayed at the house until I was 18,then I moved out. I moved to Santa Clara when I was 20. I saw my mother in person two more times in my life after that,once when I theatened to call the cops on her shady antics unless she moved to Bremerton where my grandma has worked very hard to get a place for her to get a fresh start….but when she brought her husband,the relationship between my grandma and mother slowly fizzled out. The last time I saw her was Peter’s funeral,I never planned it that way but it turned out that way.
I invited and offered to help pay her way to my wedding to Lori but she didn’t want to fly,she said she was scared to fly since 9/11. I said I understood. My brother Phil flew in and was my Best Man. He was the only family member who came to the wedding.
My mother and I talked on the phone some but that also went south when I got angry that she never once called or wrote Lori for the birthday and Christmas gifts that Lori spent hours looking for. The distance grew over the years as both Phil and my dad both made visits and got to know Lori and celebrated that one of us had really found a soulmate.
The last time I talked to my mother was 20 May 18 when I found out that I had a sister I never knew I had PLUS a brother. I just had reached my absolute limit and I was done.
My brother Phil was the one sibling who stayed with her,he and our mom had a more complex relationship when i realized. I feel absolutely sad for him as he is the one left holding bag in taking care of both our mom and his dad. I feel bad that he is doing this by himself because a normal world,one where family was important and would rally around in a parent’s twilight days,he wouldn’t
When I heard she was terminally ill with cancer,I really like to say that changed everything,that she and I talked and made peace but that would be a lie. I never called her,not once. What was the point? To pretend that the wounds inflicted no longer mattered and that all was forgiven? Sure,I could have done that and maybe some of you think that I should have. But that would be dishonest and like I wrote earlier,I learned a lot of what not to do from my mother. So staying true to our relationship was maybe the one thing that really mattered.
But in looking back,there were some moments I do hold fondly….my mother holding me while I cried when Yankees catcher Thurman Munson died in a plane crash,helping me (legitimately) shop for my first girl friend in high school,asking me to coach Phil’s Little League team. That was a funny story….she was watching his team “practice” with two dads who got drafted to coach but had no idea how to do so. My mom jumped into our little Toyota beater and drove to John Galvin park where I was an assistant coach with an American Legion,when I saw her coming across the field,I thought something had happened at home.
She asked me to coach my brother’s team and I agreed….it was a very fun season for the most part and my mom showed up for every game and she actually kept some of the parents off my back by telling them I coached Legion ball.
We took in my Xavier who had a very rough home life and shared our home with him even though we were dirt poor ourselves.
But of all the moments I remember,the one truly magical moment that stayed with me throughout the years happened when I was in 5th grade.
My mom used to make our lunches and she always made them well….one of my favorites was a cheese and lettuce sandwich. I would get a piece of fruit when we could afford it or a box of raisins plus a bag of chips and a homemade goodie,my mom was a very good cook….it was a simple lunch and it varied between cheese or peanut butter sandwiches,no lunch meat,we couldn’t afford it. Well one day,my lunch was ransacked and my sandwich and fruit was taken. I told the teacher and then ate what I had…the next week,it happened again and again,only the sandwich and fruit was taken…the chips and baked item was left alone. It happened again and my mom was getting concerned. So were the teachers because it was only my lunch being targeted. But the person who was taking the lunches had a pattern and the teachers were waiting and they caught the student. It was a young boy named Ron Simmons and they caught him red handed. Well I told my mom and that they had suspended him and were going to have teacher-parent conference to discuss what to do.
Well my mom drove to the school and asked to talk to the principal. She said she didn’t want Ron suspended or even punished. She said the boy must have been very hungry to risk such a thing and she had a better idea. Well while Ron did get suspended,it was only for a day instead of the five he could have gotten. The principal explained that my mom had spoken on Ron’s behalf.
This happened towards the end of September and for the rest of the year,I took two lunches with me,mine and Ron’s. If I was sick,my mom would drop Ron’s off and if Ron was sick,I would deliver it to his home as he and I became good friends. As poor as we were,Ron was worse and my mom bought him a used jacket and warm clothes.
We moved after the school year and I lost touch with Ron but I think of how generous my mom could be. She did have a soft heart when she was younger but I think maybe that heart became harder over the years. I think she and I were so polar opposite because I walked in the same lifestyle.
But in my way,I did and do love for those moments when she flashed that kindness and I mourn because there were so few of them. Do I forgive her? Looking at where I have been and what damage there was done,I would say check back with me in a couple of years and we’ll see where I am at.
But I am glad she is no longer in pain and is resting in peace.