It is hard to believe my Mother has been gone sixteen years today.
I remember when my youngest sister, Delpha, called to tell me she had passed away in her sleep. Apparently the paramedics were still at Mom and Delpha's apartment when Delpha called. I was so shocked by the news that I asked to speak to a paramedic to be sure that what Delpha had told me was true.
After hanging up the phone I went into hysterics, crying and lying on the floor. My Mother wasn't a well woman, she had COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), a result of years of smoking, however, she wasn't in imminent danger of dying, or so I thought.
I had spoken to my Mother just two days before she died. It was Labor Day weekend approaching and I was planning a pool party and barbeque at my friend Mark's house on Saturday. When I talked to Mom I had invited her and Delpha to the party, then she went on to say she wasn't up for coming over. I practically pleaded with her to come, offering to pick her and Delpha up and bring them back home after the gathering. I'll never forget what she said, "Please don't be mad at me if I don't go."
I told her I wouldn't be mad at her but that I thought she would have a good time and she would not have to lift a finger. I think one of the reasons she said "don't be mad at me" was because sometimes I had to be firm with her when she was contemplating making decisions I felt were unwise.
I'm not sure why but I had not been home to Indianapolis for two years but I had decided to come home for Labor Day weekend. As I do not believe in coincidences, I feel in retrospect that she passed away because finally all of he children were in town at the same time. My youngest sister had just turned twenty-one years old on August twelfth and I think Mom felt that her work as a mother was complete.
Another strange thing occurred a few monthes previous to Mom's passing. There was a photograph of my Mother that was taken in 1959 when she was twenty-one years old. She looks beautiful in the photo, dressed in a teal colored dress with her trademark red lipstick and painted nails. She had made copies of that photograph and had given or mailed a copy of it to all of her children.
My Mother did not have an easy life. I think her problems began in her childhood after the loss of her father when she was just thirteen years old.
My parents had a tumultuous relationship, having been married and divorced from each other twice. I feel as if my parents both loved each other and yet could not sustain a life living together. I'm sure my Father's alcoholism added a great strain to their marriages and the loss of a child at one year of age was more than their relationship could bear.
I also believe my Mother had longlasting feelings of guilt about giving custody of her first three children to my father. I now realize what a difficult decision that was for her and I wholeheartedly believe it was a sacrifice she made out of love for her children.
I'm not sure what my Mother's home life was like when she was growing up, but I have a feeling that there was not a lot of physical affection shown toward her from her Mother.
I think this lack of affection was passed down from her Mother to her and then to her children. I think it was difficult for my Mother to show physical affection. Consequently, showing physical affection has been an obstacle I have strived to overcome in my own life, as have my siblings to a greater or lesser degree.
My Mother was not a doting mother, we were not smothered with hugs, kisses and "I love yous" all the time, in fact, rarely was that the case. I don't blame my Mother for this, I think she did the best she knew how to do.
After my parents second divorce, life became much harder for my Mom, physically, emotionally, and financially.
I have a portrait of my Mother that my youngest sister, Delpha, painted just a few monthes before Mom passed away. What I like most about the painting (which Delpha has so graciously given to me) is the despair etched in my Mother's face. She was exhausted by life, you can see it in her face in the painting, a true reflection of what she had endured in her life.
Ceratinly Mom had many happy moments in her life also. One of my favorite memories of being with her was a visit she made to Chicago in the mid-eighties to visit me and Michael. We took her and Delpha to the "Ripley"s Believe It or Not Museum." We were looking at a display case that housed what they described as the world's smallest violin. Mom said "it is so small I can't even see it." Michael said to her "it's not down there it's up here." We roared with laughter because she was looking in the wrong place. When Mom laughed really hard, the laughter would make her eyes water, and this was one of those occasions. She laughed so hard it looked like she was crying. I love that memory, it still makes me smile.
In a way I am glad Mom wasn't around here physically to witness all that I have gone through medically which of course culminated in the loss of both of my legs. I would not have wanted her to add my physical burden to her already heavy load.
As I have stated before, I have a picture of my parents together that hangs in my bedroom. I talk to both of my parents all the time, asking for advice and for strength. I know their spirits are with me always, I take solace in knowing and feeling their spiritual presence.
Know Mom how much I Love and miss you on this sixteenth anniversary of your physical passing. Love, Glenn