(I originally posted this on LiveJournal. Unless you’re me, there is no part three. I’m editing the series because I don’t want to share everything with the world.)
For a long time, I’ve been thinking of journaling about my relationship with my mother. The problem is, it’s really hard to do so without writing about events that I just don’t want to share. So, it looks like I’m going to write around those.
Mom also wasn’t terribly supportive of doing anything challenging. This is hard to explain without being longwinded. Basically, if I wanted to do something big – audition for a show, travel to a college, try for a scholarship – I had to do it by myself. I couldn’t count on her to help. She wasn’t terribly encouraging. Once I got into a show, or started doing something, then she would be helpful and supportive. But I had to take the first leap – the hardest one – by myself, all of the time. She was like George McFly in Back to the Future, before Marty went back to the 1950s.
I also resented the hell out of the fact that there was never enough money to get acting or music lessons, but always enough to feed her cigarette habit. I have respiratory problems to this day that I blame on her smoking.
My sister spoke at the memorial service. She said that Mom always put other people before herself, and that was very true. I guess that most of the time, that’s a good quality. On the other hand, Mom could be a pushover and a martyr. I suppose a lot of people can.
Mom loved attention, positive or negative.
Mom also never wanted help, or rather, maybe she wanted help but didn’t know how to ask for it and got mad because people didn’t offer her the help she wanted. She hated flying, for example. Once she got on the oxygen, she used it as an excuse to stop traveling. My sister lives in Florida, and we all wanted Mom to visit her. Mom argued that she couldn’t take the tank on the plane, and that the airlines charge to use their approved oxygen. I did some research and found some very portable tanks that are airplane-safe. But Mom would balk, “I have to get tested” she’d say. She never wanted to deal with any sort of hassle, real or imagined.
I think that’s the biggest reason she didn’t even learn about the gastric bypass. My mom, 4 feet, 11 inches, was, by her own admission, 250 pounds when she died. When I first moved to California again, her doctors wanted her to consider the gastric bypass. She wouldn’t think of it. By the time we convinced her to at least learn more, her doctors said she was too ill to have it. Problem solved. Sort of.
Please understand, that my Mom really was a lovable person. She had a bizarre sense of humor, but she could be truly funny. She always tried to be upbeat. She liked to make the little things fun. My sister told a story that I’d forgotten. At one of Ann’s birthday parties, we had to go to the grocery store, but we were all in pajamas. Mom drove us all down to Safeway and we marched around the store in a “follow-the-leader” line. I remember that now. It really was a blast.
Mom would often go out of her way to get you exactly what you wanted. Then again, there were times that she’d buy lots of little things instead of the one big thing. Mom was all about stuff, which is why she called on the aunts to help get it all out of her house.
I guess Mom and I never really understood each other. She wanted me to call her for advice, and talk to her every day, the way she talked to her step mom. I don’t talk to anyone everyday, unless they live in my house. Mom was great for advice on what to do when you were sick. Even in New Hampshire, when I was sick I’d call up my mom. The problem is, I’ve always thought that I was smarter than my mom. Mom never went to college. She never came off as particularly educated. I started beating her at Trivial Pursuit when I was 8 or 9. Mom tended to be gullible. I perceived that as weak. I was always independent, and that bothered her. She liked people to depend on her.
Oh, and Mom was really bad at saying “no”. She was wildly inconsistent. It was easy to take advantage of her when we were younger. We never had curfews. I had more freedom than any of my friends.
My Uncle Jon spoke at Mom’s rosary, about how Mom always treated kids with respect. She listened to what they had to say. She made them feel important. That’s certainly true. I do think that’s influenced how I am with Jack, and how I hope to be.
My mother and father had the world’s most inexplicable relationship. They just didn’t seem to like each other all that much, ever. My dad had meningitis when I was 5, and it changed him completely. For years, they simply didn’t talk to one another. My dad called me in Pennsylvania one day to tell me to call my mother in California at work to tell her something. I refused. A lot of people at the service and rosary called my dad mom’s “best friend”. If I treated my best friend that way…
So yes, it seems that it all boils down to the fact that I never really “got” Mom. I love her because she’s my mom. She worked very hard. She helped put me through college. She often did what I asked her to do, and I would do many things for her. I wanted to give her so much more than I could, and I bet she felt the same way. She was funny, and dedicated, and sweet. She was a kick. She had many, many friends. I’m not sure that she knew how many lives she touched.
I miss my mom. I wish I could sort it all out, and be at peace with myself over all of the feelings I have. Perhaps I will, someday. I just know that she shouldn’t be dead just yet. She should be alive, and complaining about how I never call, how my grandmother monopolizes Jack, how my Dad mumbles and leaves stuff all over the house. She should be telling the same three stories about my nephews, and cracking jokes, and observing. I just wanted a little more time.