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.