Chattahoochee Child

Reflections On July 6th of Every Year…


Dearest Readers:

Today is a day of remembrance for me. On July 6, 1999, while walking into the nursing home to visit with my dad, he was slipping away. The story below is a remembrance written about him last year, on the anniversary of his homecoming. July 6, 2015, is the 16th anniversary of losing him.

After losing my dad, what did I learn about the dying process, you might ask. Simple. I learned that when we lose a significant person in our lives, we must walk through the grief, embrace it, and move on with our lives. Believe me, it isn’t as easy as some people think. And so, today – I will share my thoughts and memories of someone who influenced my life, helping me to move on without him. Today is a day of much melancholy and gratitude to my dad. Words cannot express how much I miss him. Later, I will go outside and pray for God to give me guidance as I reminisce about my dad.

Last night I sang “Dance With My Father Again,” at karaoke. in remembrance of him. After I sat down, two people came over to thank me. “That was so powerful,” both of them said, wiping tears from their eyes. I suppose I failed to recognize how powerful a performance can be to a singer, entertainer.

On July 6 of each year, I remember:

July 6 is always a day to remember for me. Why? Allow me to explain. During the stressful days of my dad’s terminal illness with esophageal cancer during December 1997 until his death on July 6, 1999, I have felt such a loss.

I’ve had people tell me I need to move on. “Get over it. Life goes on…” Etc. ETC! It isn’t easy! Tomorrow is July 6, 2014 – exactly 15 years since the death of my dad. I remember the day as if it was yesterday. After a demanding day at work, I rushed to visit him like I did every day. I spoke to the nursing home earlier in the day. “Dad was doing fine,” they replied. “Fine!?!” If he’s in a nursing home he isn’t fine. Yes, he was as well as could be expected; nevertheless, over the last six months of his life, I watched his body slowly shutting down. First it was the weakness from esophageal cancer. His inability to retain his food. His legs grew weaker and he fell – LOTS. Each time the nursing home reported the falls to me like they are required. And each time, I prayed a sigh of relief. Just one more day. Please God, give us one more day.

In March, his heart grew weaker, and I realized the end was near. I stopped praying for a miracle. In my nightly prayers, I prayed for God to find a special place for my dad, to use his talents, his voice, and yes – even his temper. Dad could be a tenacious man when he wanted to be!

During my daily visits after March, I noticed Dad no longer walked me to the door, to kiss me goodbye. He simply waved his hand as he closed his Holy Bible. No longer were the visits welcoming or fun. He appeared to be angry at me, always waving me away after about 10 minutes of our time together. His roommate told me Dad was mean to me. “You deserve better,” Dudley said. “He is so mean. He should appreciate you.”

I smiled at Dudley. “Don’t you understand,” I cried. “Dad is dying. He’s angry at life.”

Dad and Dudley were the odd couple of Sandpiper Convalescent Center. They teased and complained, always trying to compete with each other. For a while, Dad had the upper hand since Dudley’s body no longer moved and he remained in the bed, or a special wheelchair. Dudley had difficulty with speech too, but after visiting Dad so often, Dudley and I were able to communicate without a problem. After March, Dudley had the upper hand as we watched Dad sit on his bed, or remain in his bed most of the time. Gone were his daily strolls with his walker.

I suppose I was counting the days down, knowing my dad and I would not share another holiday together. No more birthday parties. No more Christmas trees, Thanksgiving and holiday dinners together. Tick. Tock…How I wish I could make this clock stop and save my dad.

On the moment of his death, I was walking in the corridor of Sandpiper Convalescent Center. A nurse I recognized approached, pushing an oxygen tank. I remember speaking with her, saying Uh, oh. That isn’t a welcoming sign for someone. She nodded, never saying a word to me.

I placed my hand on the door of Dudley and Dad’s room and so did the nurse. Quickly, she nodded, telling me not to come inside.

I screamed.

“Oh, Dear God, No. Please…please….Please God, NO!” I cried.

Someone grabbed me, walking me to a chair and I sat down. I knew. The clock was stopping. My dad way dying.
I heard a voice say, Barbie. We can bring him back.

“No,” I cried. “He’s a DNR. I must honor his wishes.”

Moments seemed like hours. At 6:15 a nurse approached me. “I’m so sorry. Do you want to say goodbye?”
Yes, I nodded.

I waited a few minutes for my husband to arrive and together, we walked into Dad’s room. Dudley was eating dinner. I could not speak to him. I touched my Dad – his body as cold as ice. His skin clammy. His eyes closed. I kissed him. Told him I loved him and I would never forget him. “You’re still here, inside my heart,” I cried.

I have no idea what happened next. I was numb. Dumbfounded. How would I live without my Dad?

After his funeral, I joined a grief therapy session and learned to move forward. Still, as the day of July 6 of each year approaches, I feel an incredible emptiness. Grief. Heartache. I ask myself, will this pain ever leave?

I think not. July 6, 2015, is only hours away. I must keep myself busy, remembering my Dad, Walter W. Perkins, and the goodness inside of him. Yes, he had moments of temperamental ups and downs, but he was my dad. As a child, I always looked up to him. I held his hand. We sang. He taught me how to harmonize and he always reminded me to “Make this a good day.”

I ask you how? How do I make each day a good day without my dad?

When do we stop grieving over those we’ve loved and lost? When does the heartache end?

After my dad died, I felt like an orphan. I have learned to move on and to recognize that each day is a gift. I plan to have a serious heart-to-heart discussion with my dad in the morning while drinking my morning coffee. I will lift my head high, looking into the Heavens and speak softly to my Dad. Yes, I will probably cry, but now, the tears are good, cleansing tears because I have learned to move forward. To make the most of every day. Today, July 6, 2015, is another day without my dad, but I am so thankful that I was there for him daily while he battled cancer. Yes, I miss you, Dad. I was blessed to share one more day. Thank you, God, for giving us one more day!

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Excerpt from “CHATTAHOOCHEE CHILD”


Dearest Readers:

Today, while finally gluing my butt to the chair, I am writing again. Today, I would like to share the latest Excerpt from “Chattahoochee Child.”

I hope you will enjoy!

A FAMILY MATTER…

Domestic Violence…Domestic Abuse… Regardless what it is called, it is truly a vicious monster. A wild, destructive monster that roars with such anger and turbulence I vowed never to allow it to knock at my door as a grown up. There were times I felt domestic violence knocking at my door, especially whenever Garrett felt threatened by his green-eyed monster of jealousy. At times I was horrified of my husband, especially on one occasion when we were fighting most of the day. He was in one of his PTSD rages, shouting at me, raising his fist, threatening, and when his anger got the best of him, he thrust his fist through the doorway of the hall. I jumped back.

“Was that directed at me?” I asked him.

He smirked. “No. I’d never hit you.”

I raised a manicured finger at him. “If you ever hit me, our marriage will end. IMMEDIATELY. Domestic violence is something I will never forgive.”

Garrett rubbed his fist. “Whatever,” he said, walking away.

In my marriage I was blind sighted to domestic violence. I made excuses. Always forgiving Garrett’s jealous rages, I tolerated his verbal abuse. Excusing his quick, hot temper as another rage from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, I apologized for making him angry. Whenever men looked my way, I quickly glanced away. I did not want Garrett to lose his temper, or to shout at me. I closed myself inside my home, afraid that if he called and I wasn’t home, he would retaliate with another shouting match.
Domestic violence I knew much about as a child, although at the time it did not have the title of domestic abuse or violence. It was labeled a “family matter…” Shunned…Never mentioned. Ignored! As a married woman, never did I consider that my husband might become violent, and on the day that he thrust his fist through the door, I felt the fear that a victim of domestic violence fears and I promised myself that I would not become the next victim.

At the age of five-years-old, I saw domestic violence for the first time. My mother was outside, gossiping with neighborhood women at Joel Chandler Harris Homes in Atlanta, Georgia. I was inside our apartment playing with my doll babies when I heard my daddy shouting, calling in a harsh voice for my mother. I screamed at him, “Daddy, she’s outside talking to the neighbors.”

“Go get her.” My daddy demanded.

I rushed outside. “Mommy. Daddy wants you inside.”

My mother laughed. “He can come get me,” she said. One of the five women she was gossiping with snickered. “Guess you better get inside. Gotta keep the ruler of the house happy!” All of the women roared in unison.

Living in a housing project, the women were not exactly the Donna Reed style of women, dressed in fine clothing and high heels. My mother wore bed room slippers and a dirty house coat. No makeup or lipstick. Two of the women were dressed in raggedy jeans and T-shirts. Their hair was messy and they smelled like a dirty ashtray. I decided on that date that I would always do my best to look my best – to groom myself like a woman and wear makeup and have my hair styled. Never did I want to be ‘frumpy’ or a plain Jane.

“Mommy,” I said, my voice rising a bit. “Daddy’s gonna get angry.”

The back door closed. My daddy rushed outside, waving his fist, shouting.

“Sa-rah!” He roared. “You get in here now.”

My mother did not move. Daddy rushed to her, grabbing her arm. She pushed away from him and he shoved her, knocking her to the ground where she hit her forehead on the concrete curb. The metal trash cans by her fell over. I saw blood on my mother’s forehead. Daddy grabbed her arm. “You get up…Now.” He barked.

My mother struggled to get up. I reached to help her. I touched her forehead. “Are you, Ok, Mommy?”
I stood between my parents, my arms crossed tightly in front of me, daring my daddy to reach for her again. “Daddy, don’t you ever do that again!”

My mother glared at me. “Hush, child.”

Daddy stomped back inside. Never did he show any concern for my mother. Mommy followed. The women standing nearby snickered amongst themselves and I realized I was the only one who came to my mother’s rescue. No one cared. Domestic violence was a family matter at that time. Everyone looked away, with exception of me.

One of the women turned to move away, whispering something about a family matter while blowing smoke from her mouth. I didn’t understand her words, but I did know I didn’t like any of these shabbily dressed women, and I hoped that woman would choke on her cigarette smoke. I wanted to shout at them, asking why they didn’t help my mama. After all, I was a small child. Too young to help, too young to have any rights or say-so. I decided these women were nothing but trouble! ‘Poor white trash,’ I thought to myself…’Nothing but white trash!’ I followed the blood trail from my mother’s forehead back to our apartment.

After Mommy got inside, I got her a cold washcloth, placing it on her forehead.

She rested on the tattered sofa of our apartment, blood still pouring from her forehead. I brought her another washcloth.

“Get me a butter knife,” my mama screamed. I rushed to the kitchen. She placed the blade of the butter knife on her forehead.

“Don’t cut yourself, Mama. Please. You’re still bleeding.”

“The butter knife will make the swelling go away.”

That night when I said my nightly prayers, I prayed that my mama would be all right, and I ask God to make my dad stop hitting and knocking my mother around. After my prayers, I made a promise to myself that I would never allow any man to ever hit me, or knock me down, like my daddy knocked my mother down. At the age of five-years-old, I became the referee to my parents.

Ten years later, I served as the referee for the final time… Arriving home from Russell High School in Atlanta, I rushed inside; anxious to tell my parents I had the lead in a play at school. I knocked on my parent’s door. No answer. I rushed to my room, but something inside my head encouraged me to go back to my parent’s door. I knocked again. I heard the shuffling of feet, and a slap. I opened the door. My mother was standing hunched over, blue in the face, gasping for breath. A hand print was on the side of her face.

“What’s going on in here?” I asked. My mother was getting weaker. I rushed to her side. My dad stood by the bed, cursing and throwing mail at me.

“She’s made all these damned bills. They’re garnishing my wages. I can’t afford this. To Hell with her.”

Moving my mother to a chair, I sat her down and moved closer to my dad. “Don’t you ever hit her again? Do you hear me, Dad? I’ve watched you over and over again hitting my mother, and I’ve watched her hitting you, but this has got to stop! One of you needs to leave this house and marriage. One of you needs to leave before someone gets killed.”

The next day, my dad moved out. My mother told me that from this day forward, I did not have a daddy and I was never to speak about him again. I ignored her. She said my dad was divorcing her and it was my fault. I caused the break-up of my parent’s marriage.

Years later, I became an advocate for domestic violence. I was thankful when laws against domestic violence became a crime and I was thankful that I did not have to be the referee between my parents anymore. In their later years, I became their caregiver, serving as a parent to my abusive, cruel parents.

After their divorce, my dad became a new man. Kinder. Happier. Religious and gentle. I received birthday gifts on birthdays and Dad and I bonded as a father and daughter. Never did we discuss domestic abuse. We focused on happy times. The birth of my child. The home Garrett and I bought in South Carolina. Our strong, happy relationship as father and daughter. Before his death in 1999, we were closer than ever. Dad was fun to be around. Never did he show any anger or hostility at my mother. Reborn inside the body and mind of my father was a man easy to love. So different. So kind. So caring.

My mother? Slowly, she became outraged. Violent. Bi-polar. She died a questionable death after suffering a stroke. The one concern from my youngest sister on the day after her death was, and I quote, “Do you think they’ll do an autopsy?”

My youngest sister spent the night at the hospital with our mother on the night of her death. Suppose I’ll let this story decide if an autopsy was necessary, although I suspect an autopsy should’ve been completed – to discover the true reason our mother happened to die on the one and only night my youngest sister chose to spend the night at the hospital. Interesting?

And so – now I am developing the poignant story of “Chattahoochee Child.”

Chattahoochee Child, Free Writing

“Chattahoochee Child…” Just Opening A Vein…To Write!


Dearest Readers:

If you are reading this, and either you know me, or follow my blog, you will know the struggles I have just writing “Chattahoochee Child.” Years ago, at a writers meeting, I shared the premise of this story, receiving much encouragement. At the time, I had no idea where the story would go, but now, after a few life events, I recognize I must get this story down. There have been many times I have written, only to hit the delete key, erasing everything. Now, today, I recognize the time is now. Years ago, I submitted a small portion of “Chattahoochee Child” to a writer’s competition, winning first place. Below is a comment I received from one of the judges:

“Chattahoochee Child was on another emotional level. There was an emotional honesty and vulnerability there, mixed in with some really beautiful writing that just stood out…It affected me emotionally…” Another quote from this successful writer and judge shared: “I have judged stories that were superficial, clever, or lecturing, but yours just went deep to the bone. You had some beautiful passages in there. I read one aloud to my wife and it stopped her in her tracks… You have a genuine gift…”

Today, I will share a bit of freewriting I worked on during the holidays. Today, I awoke with thoughts dancing a graceful ballet in my mind, telling myself I cannot write. I’ve fought this doubt for much too long, only to discover and re-read these quotes this special writer and judge shared. Yes, I keep his comments near my desk — for inspiration. Another discovery today for me is how important music is for me while writing. Music is my therapy!

Today, I share a letter written to the character of Rebecca:

Dearest Rebecca:
Sometimes in life we must write a letter to ourselves, for us to heal. Writing the letter gets the words down…opening the mind to what happened, how we coped, and most of all, how we learned to love again. For years, I lived without love. Why? Simple. I thought I was unworthy of love. After all, no one in this world would ever love someone so outspoken, independent and threatening as I was, at least those were the words I grew up hearing over…and over…and over again! I believed I was a monster. And so today, Dear Rebecca, I address this letter to you, after all – no one knows you better than you know yourself. You are Rebecca!

Sitting here in the early morning light, I reminisce about my childhood and I am thankful. So thankful I had a strong-willed grandmother teaching me faith. Thankful I found guidance woven within the fingertips of her hands. I watched her with a critical, curious eye when she folded her hands in prayer. When she whispered ever so softly for God to guide her and give her strength. I learned so much, just by watching her actions — the beliefs and values she taught me are priceless.

I am thankful that I got to know and improve my relationship with my father. As a child, I overlooked his indiscretions. When my mother criticized him for his quick temper, I looked to see a different person. In my innocent eyes, I saw a caring man who adored singing with me. He taught me how to harmonize, and to sing from the pit of my stomach. He taught me to believe in the power of God’s words, and when he rarely spoke about his identical twin brother who died too young, I saw the pain on my father’s face. I wanted him to love me, like he loved his twin brother. I wanted to learn more about their dreams of harmonizing and preaching the gospel to others. During the times when my father lost his temper, beating my mother, I was the one to run between them, pushing my hands on their steaming bodies to move them apart. I was the one who strove to see the good, and not the bad in relationships. I am grateful that I overlooked the sadness of a volatile man who only showed his anger behind the closed doors of our home. Singing and preaching in church, no one knew the secrets of our family. When Dad was diagnosed with esophageal cancer, I am grateful that I was the daughter to step up and care for him. I am grateful we had a small amount of time to heal the wounds of childhood while we developed a close relationship before we said goodbye.

Now, as a woman, I am thankful I found the courage to believe in myself and the goals and dreams I established at such an early time of my life. I am thankful – when the storms of life threaten me, I have an inner strength that helps me find the courage to survive. My grandmother influenced my life by guiding me as she practiced the values, philosophies and standards she shared in her actions and her prayers. Without her guidance, I would not be the woman I am today. Reflecting about my childhood, now I recognize how painful it was. Yes, as I look back into my life as a child, I could dwell on the heartache and pain, the many episodes of family abuse, and the hatred that appeared to always dance inside our moments as a family; however, I chose to move forward, as my father said to me during his torrential battle with esophageal cancer. I do want to move forward, to wash all of the hurt and anger away. While it still dances inside my mind at times, I wish to bid the anger and abuse goodbye permanently.

As a young child, I lived in fear. Fear of my parents. Fear of their habitual demeanor of shouting angry, hateful words to each other. Never did I hear my mother or father say “I love you,” to each other or the children of their marriage. Most households awaken to children laughing with excitement for the events of the day. Morning hugs are shared. I hungered to have just one morning where my mother would hug me before I left the house. Monsters appeared to live inside our household, inside the cantankerous voice of my mother and the boisterous shouting of my father. I haven’t addressed our household as a home because it wasn’t a home. A home is where a family goes to receive love, attention and a feeling of belonging. Home is a place to share life’s events and life’s tragedies, a place where children come for comfort and guidance. As a child, I was a stranger trapped within four walls. We moved like drifters, never establishing roots or cherished memories. Never did I feel a sense of belonging. Deep inside my heart, I struggled to find positive, happy thoughts, finding them only in the energy, happiness and pride I found whenever I sang, or wrote. For years, I kept a diary, hiding it underneath my mattress and that is where I slowly learned to feed positive energy to myself. “A home is where the heart is,” only my heart never felt comfortable within my birth family, with exception of the wisdom and knowledge I received from my maternal grandmother and my father – on his good days.

Once I heard the quote, “Turn a negative into a positive,” I asked my teacher how someone could do that. She smiled at me saying, “By applying positive feedback and believing in yourself. Don’t allow others to discourage your dreams.”

My teacher’s encouragement remained with me. I recognized my home situation was venomous. The vicious words I heard so often felt as poisonous as the stings from a yellow jacket or a snake, burning inside my brain and body. Hurting. Destroying. I realized to survive, I had to build myself up by feeding my brain positive thoughts. Although I was a child, I could not permit negative thoughts to destroy what I desired in my life. My life was up to me. Slowly, ever so slowly, I applied the newfound knowledge of turning a negative into a positive. Whenever I heard my mother tell me I was a stupid child, I visualized being smart. I read books. I studied. I did everything within my power not to be a stupid child, and before the age of thirteen, I realized I was not stupid. In school I made all A’s. I sang in the choir and whenever a project was assigned, I worked hard to make the best grade in the class. Teachers complimented me on my writing and researching talents. The choir director told me I had a nice voice, and when the words of destruction from my mother’s voice echoed in my head, I fed myself positive thoughts. After all, I wasn’t stupid.

Although I was young, the struggles of my life taught me courage. I was on a journey to find the young girl who would become the woman I am today. Many people have told me that as adults, we are a reflection of our parents. I was determined to break the toxic, backbiting habits of my mother. Yes, I watched her actions, making mental notes to make my life different. Observing her manipulations, I chose to do things in a different style.
Life is so precious and we must cherish every breath we take, every moment we live. The only regret I have now is the reality that my mother and I never made peace. Repeatedly, I tried. My mother allowed negativity to feed anger within her. Now, she was in the twilight years of her life, struggling to become stronger after a stroke. Prior to this, she allowed the many storms of her life to destroy her. Filled with anger and resentment she rarely shared compliments or encouragement. Instead, she spat back with a venomous attitude, telling me I would never amount to nothing but a hill of beans. I grew to hate her attitude towards me. Perhaps her resentment was a reflection of her innermost desires. Maybe she considered herself a failure, and now, in the twilight years, she realized her days were numbered. Mortality was knocking at her door and there was nothing she could do to fight it.

Or – maybe – my mother was jealous of me and the relationship I developed with my father. As a child, I overlooked his temper, and when he sang, “You Are My Sunshine” to me, I melted. Just maybe…just maybe I was lovable, after all!

During her struggle to survive, I challenged myself to look at my mother’s life. Although she never shared her childhood stories, or the romance and marriage, I realized there had to be pain intertwined within the core of her persona. The only time I recall her showing any emotion was on the day she and Dad separated. Arriving at home, I found her in tears. When I ask her what was wrong, she replied, “Your damned daddy has left me. It’s all your fault. You’re the one who told him to leave yesterday. I hope you are happy now, you stupid bitch.” Her hand slammed hard on my face, leaving a burning redness I felt for hours. Rubbing my face, I tugged at her apron strings. “But you said you wanted him to die. Over and over you said you hoped Daddy would die soon. Don’t you remember saying that to me when I was little?”

“You shut up. Death is different…You have time to mourn. Divorce…Why Divorce is something shameful, especially for a Southern woman.”

Regardless of how cruel she was, I learned to accept her as a lost woman. A woman who never achieved her own goals. A woman angry that the man she married chose to divorce her, instead of stand by her. Angry. So enraged. Infuriated that her children grew up, refusing to remain by her side. Angry that no one else wanted to be her friend or companion. The red-eyed monster of anger captivated her. She could not see the deceptions she created, blaming him for the thunderstorms in her life, nor could she accept responsibility for her actions.

Still, to this day, I regret how my mother would not allow me to be close, but now that I am older and wiser, I recognize that she behaved in the same hateful, malicious demeanor to others, especially to my dad.

After my mother’s death, I have recognized our relationship is now a closed matter. We cannot sit down together to attempt an open discussion of why we were so estranged. She is gone. Nothing I can do or say can bring her back. I have to find peace. I have to come to terms with what happened on the night of her death. Although she was an embittered woman, with a poisonous tongue, I loved her. She gave me life. Watching her actions, I learned that I was the one responsible for my character, my values and my beliefs. My life was up to me to build, and I was determined that others would not destroy me. I have come to the reality that I am the woman I am today, thanks to all that I endured. I found strength and purpose inside an unhappy home that should’ve taught me destruction. Instead of walking in the shadows of my mother, I chose to walk alone. I suppose I have finally found my way home.

Sincerely,
Rebecca

Baby!, Free Writing, Motherhood

Happy Mother’s Day


Today, I awaken to the sounds of motherhood. My children are in the bed with me, rolling over, wanting attention and a bit of motherly love. Hank groans. Sandy Bear jumps off the bed with a solid thump as his four legs hit the carpeting. Shakespeare lies next to me on his pillow, rolling over, kicking his four legs in unison. I moan realizing morning has begun in this household filled with four-legged children demanding my attention.

Years ago, I was the mother to my son, and I am still the mother to him, although he is married now, with a precious child of his own. I am proud of my son and miss him in my life. He is busy with work, a career that demands his attention and his wife and family. Rarely do I see him, but that doesn’t stop the fact that I am his mother.

Motherhood is more than ‘birthing a child.’ It is a special time to care for the child and to teach the child the values, love and nourishment that all children need to grow up to be responsible, respected adults. I was an extremely young mother, giving birth to my child when I was only twenty-years-old. While I learned the ropes of successful motherhood, I recognized I wasn’t trained or ready to become a mother, and so my precious son taught me by his actions. Together we learned the definition of family and I am proud to be his mother.

To all of the mothers reading this, I would like to say, motherhood doesn’t come with a training manual. While we teach our children to speak, walk and to flutter their wings as we watch them growing up, we are constantly learning from them. When a child has its first ‘boo-boo’ we wipe their tears, while perhaps wiping a tear from our face. I recall a tear slipping down my face when my son went to kindergarten. In first grade, I became a volunteer at his school, only to be told that he wished I would not be at school so much. Perhaps I had raised him to be a bit too independent, so I backed away, recognizing that my son was growing up. While he still needed a mother, he also needed his independence. I did not wish to be a helicopter mom.

Every year at Mother’s Day, I think of my mother, wishing we could’ve become the mother daughter I always wanted. Let’s just say, my mother had issues. She never wanted her children to grow up, so she smothered us with control and manipulations. I broke away at an early age, fighting with every breath to have an independent life. Later in her life, when she was ill, I lived eight hours away from her. When she was moved from my youngest sister’s apartment to a care facility, I kept in touch daily with the nurses. I sent care packages to her, and when she could speak I spoke with her.

I lost my mother on September 11, 2002, and still I do not know the reasons for her death. She was recuperating from a stroke. According to the nurses ‘she was improving.’ I requested them to keep me informed. After her death, no one let me know of her passing until sixteen hours later. My youngest sister’s son phoned me to share the news. The last question he shared with me while on the phone was, “Aunt Barbie, do you think they’ll do an autopsy?”

Strange. I didn’t comprehend all that he was saying at the time.

I was on Prednisone and my brain simply was not processing these words. I was home at the time battling an acute attack of severe bronchitis. Her funeral was set for the next morning. I was too sick to drive and my husband was in Italy at the time, so I missed her funeral. Nevertheless, I am at peace with her passing, knowing that I did all that I could to let her know that I had buried our torrential past and was there for her.

Today, on Mother’s Day, I think of her, wishing her well. I hope she found peace before her death and I do hope she knew that I did love her. Regardless of our history together, I fully believe that not all women should become mothers. My mother was one of them who shouldn’t have, but I cannot look back wishing to change things that were out of my control. All I can do is to thank my mother for giving me life. I hope and pray that deep inside her heart she found a small way to be proud of me. Happy Mother’s Day, and may your Mother’s Day be enriched with the love of your family.