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Confession: March 24th was going to be the end for me. Months with no car, pain, painful treatments, meds screwed up, isolated, low on cash...

Friday, May 15, 2015

Understanding Alice.

I hadn't seen Alice, my biological mother in more than a year. Readers of my blog may recall the "relationship" she and I have. The last time I saw her was March 2014 when I went to the hospital to bring her the glasses that were found out in the yard at her apartment. She hadn't been seen that day so when a neighbor had gotten curious and looked in her window, he saw her lying on the living room floor unconscious--or dead. By the time I was notified, the next day, she'd had total hip surgery and would be going to a nursing home upon discharge. Later that evening, I took her glasses that had been found in the yard--apparently dropped by the ambulance crew that had gotten her the previous day. I knocked, walked into her room and said, "I brought your glasses."
"You get the hell out of here," she said, drawing her fist back at me, "don't you come back and that goes for that bitch Lily and Tommy, too." (Lily is her sister and Tommy is her son.)
I don't know why this exchange shocked me. Oh sure, the little girl in me always wants that "Lifetime Movie" moment when mean old Mom sees the err of her ways and begs forgiveness for everything she ever did or said--but this still "Alice" and to her, I was the reason she never got the life she wanted or deserved. But I understand.
"Mom" was 18 months old when she was sitting in her mother's lap that day. Dad came in and began stabbing her mother with a butcher knife. Aunt Lilly was four years old but got away, ran to a neighbor and told them her Daddy was killing her mom and baby sister. The police arrived to find their mother dying on the floor and Alice beside her unharmed but crying and soaked in her mother's blood. Unlike "Dexter," Alice grew up unguarded, unguided and unloved...but not a serial killer.
It must've been rough growing up with Lily as her sister. Lily was the first-born, the beauty, the "good one," by contrast--Alice wasn't any of those things. So I understand. Lily got pregnant and got married...Alice got pregnant, got dumped. She had me--then I got dumped.
Over the years, Alice let me know that I had her life. "We were getting married and then you showed up." she'd say. "If abortion were legal back then, you certainly wouldn't be here," she'd say. "She doesn't know what she's saying," I'd say to myself.  But I understood.
I was a cheerleader from fourth grade to my senior year of high school--she never saw me once. She didn't come to any of my graduations but she did come to my wedding--walked right by me, kissed "him" on the cheek and said, "I always wanted a son." She never married and here was my wedding. Her question was always, "Why did you get everything?" But I understand.
Last June, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and have been in treatment after my double mastectomy. I can't help but smile to think what Alice would say if she knew I'd "had my boobs cut off." She was barely a 32A  while I was a 38DD. (My fakes are that size, too!) She'd be very happy. I understand.
I hadn't seen Alice in over a year and there'd be weeks that she wouldn't even enter my mind. Was that okay? Was I hanging onto that sad hope that we'd someday be "Mother and Daughter"? No--but I was missing something. May 10th was Mother's Day and it hit me. I knew what to do.
After church, I went to the nursing home. A woman who looked like her was sitting in a wheelchair draped in a little green blanket. "Alice?" I asked.
"Who are you?" the woman said--it was Alice. So I went to her and said, "I'm just someone you used to know." Then I gave her a box of "honey buns" and a single red rose surrounded in 'baby's breath' tied by a red ribbon with a card that read, "Happy Mother's Day---I Forgive You."
It wasn't done for her, it was for me. Face-to-face, end of an era. She'd be spending the rest of her life in this nursing home, pretending to be senile. She's finally being pampered, waited on hand and foot and at last, rid of me.  That's all she ever wanted...and I understand.



    If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
    If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
    If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
    If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.
    If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy.
    If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.
    If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.
    If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.
    If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.
    If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
    If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
    If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
    If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
    If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.
    If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
    If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
    If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
    If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.
    If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

    by Dorothy Law Nolte

    Once upon a time - years ago - when my first bride was around, when our love was strong, and when the thought of having children together was in our minds, an abbreviated version of this poem hung prominently in our home. At first read, it appears to be simply a nice little reminder/guideline for raising kids. However, when reflecting upon your own childhood the poem's truths are more accurate than one's comfortable to ponder. You see, although we were madly in love, our respective childhoods were messed up just enough that our love and relationship were blown apart. Each of us unknowingly acted out as we had been programmed to do, and it costed us dearly. More than thirty years later, the poem - in its original frame - remains with me. Oddly enough, I still keep it in a prominent place and I read it often.

    A passage in the Buddhist "bible" says that the world is ablaze - with all of us suffering from the fire(s) - and freedom from it will only come when we no longer have physical form.

    God bless you, God bless your mother, and God bless the hands we've all been dealt.

    1. Thank u for your kind words and the blessings from Buddha and Dorothy Law Nolte. I chose to believe the 1st 8 of her verse describes "Alice and me" and the remaining ones represent what I learned from my grandmothers. Bless you for sharing them and THANK U for reading this post. God Bless You.