It has been a hard few months since my mother’s passing on June 16th. We had not spoken since around Valentine’s Day of this year. She would come in and out of our lives on a regular basis since the time my sister and I were 13 and 16 years old. She had stated later in life that she felt we were raised at that point and didn’t need her any longer. What she didn’t know or possibly couldn’t comprehend is that a person always needs their mother. They always have the urge to call, to talk, to discuss an important life event, challenge, or decision. The pain she put me through in life causes such guilt for me, when it comes to missing and grieving for her now. I feel utterly ridiculous for being sad, sad to the point that it interferes with my day to day routines at times. No one seems to notice, or I bury and hide it well. She really didn’t add much to my life other than an instilling determination to never depend on others and to make my own way in the world, and being the best mother and wife that I possibly can be. I pray for this daily, as it remains a fear that I will not continue to improve and become what each of my children need at the time and be the partner and perfect mate to my husband. I know we are not the people that make us, we are our own individual forms of DNA with our own choices and paths that lead us to completely different places if we so choose. But, when you have a mother with a strong history of hurtful behaviors it can always seem to weigh in on your thoughts.
My mother left us when we were kids. I was 16 and stayed with my boyfriend and his family at the time, he is now my husband. My sister, she dropped off at my grandparents house with a note in the mailbox signing over full custody to my father. She then took off with her boyfriend at the time. Her motivations always surrounded the man she was currently with. We went several years before even a call from her. This was about the time of the internet starting to become popular, and we had gotten our first computer in the home. I would check the obits frequently, and search her name for any news articles mentioning it. Every time a body was found on the news with an unknown identity, I thought it might be her. She reappeared in my life about the time of our wedding in 1998. She came to the ceremony like nothing had happened, and she acted in the role of the ‘mother of the bride’. Judy Chad’s mom had fulfilled this role for me since she’d vanished. She helped me through those painful years, through my high school graduation, the proms, the dances, the wedding planning, the making of the bridesmaids dresses, the many rights of passage that a girl goes through in high school. All my mother missed, Judy was there.
My mother was in our lives for a bit after this. She lived in Indianapolis, working at the airport for a parking lot company. She lived alone and with random people frequently. At one point after several supervised visits we felt she could watch our son overnight after he turned one. She loved him. Her eyes lit up when she was with him. On this night she actually lost him, he had gotten out into a field near her home and she had to find him in the dark. This ended the visits for a bit. I wasn’t sure what was going on with her at this point, but knew something wasn’t right. Just a few years later after the birth of our daughter almost 3 months early, we found out she was doing heroin and many other scary substances. She would come to the hospital and see me while I laid there trying not to give birth and I would order her a tray of food to share a meal with me and she would eat like she hadn’t eaten in quite some time. The drug habit continued for several years, until she called me one day and wanted to move back home and get clean, be a mother and a grandmother. I had used my connections within the healthcare industry and got her help, doctors, and a safe place to live. She moved back, stating that she detoxed in the back seat of her car, as she was not allowed to come into our home for fear of bringing in substances that could hurt our children. I have never validated this as she would lie frequently lie and manipulate others to get what she needed at the time. She continued to live in Terre Haute for some time, but got back into the drug quite soon after returning. About that time we relocated to the Fishers area for a better life for our children. We lost contact after she sent a mean manipulative letter stating she was dead to us and to tell our children that. Several years later I received a call from my grandmother stating that she’d been in contact with my mother and that she was ill and had had a stroke. I called her and we got back in touch. She seemed to be medically stable with multiple co-morbidities. She was a brittle diabetic, obese, and had suffered the negative lingering affects of a stroke. She wasn’t able to walk without assistance, and her cognition was not what it once was. She came to visit and seemed to be her old self. My sister and I spent time with her and we all kept in touch for a few years to come.
In 2014 she was diagnosed stage 4 cancer. I was with her for all of those initial appointments, for all of the tests, missed work, rearranged schedules, and spent as much time with her as I could. For I knew what this meant, although she didn’t realize it at the time. Once she understood what her odds where, 38% chance with treatment to live 6 months, I asked her to come live in Westfield with us. We toured an assisted living facility, we looked into doctors in the area, I had all these dreams that we’d repair the relationship that I’d yearned for for all these years. She would watch her grandchildren play ball, she’d be around for the holidays. We could make up for lost time. I’d often be jealous of my friend’s relationships with their mothers, as that was something that was always missing in my heart.
This never came to be. She chose to stay by her friends. She wrote counterfeit and fraudulent checks and started to lie to me again. I pulled away with the advice from her case manager to keep a safe distance to protect my heart. She would be very manipulative and hateful at times, all while saying very hurtful things. I wanted to show my children that no matter what someone has done, you forgive them. I would want to be forgiven. Everyone deserves a second chance. Although, I had given her multiple second chances, she was my mom. I hate using past tense verbiage when it comes to my mother. Saying, she was, sounds foreign. She is, always has been… After the many times I’d looked online to see if she was gone, now it is real. She is gone. She didn’t use the last few months/years to gain a lost relationship, to repair and mend fences. She once again chose drugs. She used these last few months to continue to party.
On the last day I saw my mother, she was in one of my nursing facilities. She was concerned as she was losing her home. At this time she was given 6 months to live, and was almost 3 months in. She wanted to make sure she could get her favorite things out of her home before she lost it, the following Friday. I offered to take her up to her home and pack some of her favorite items to bring to the nursing home. This was the first time in a long time that I had even convinced my sister to come see her, and had allowed my daughter to see her. I’ve learned to listen to my ‘gut’ after this experience. My gut told me no, and my heart insisted we take her to her home…one last time. I’d never been there. She moved frequently and with all the lies, I’d never wanted to. The home was dark, dreary, there were mattresses on the floor and boarded up windows. I knew something wasn’t right, and then just as my nerves were getting the best of me, she pulls out a bag from a back room. There is tubes, baggies, draino, and some other unknown chemicals present. She pulls these items out one by one, almost in the slow motion that happens in an emergency situation, one that you feel with a car crash. She shook the draino in my face and said, ‘you can’t even buy draino like this anymore, can you?’ Just then my sister utters the word ‘meth’ under her breath. It hit us like a bolt of lightening! She was cooking meth! How dare I be the mother that subjected my child to an environment such as this?! I knew better! I got my daughter out of the house and told my mother to get in the car, as I was taking her back to the nursing home. She acted like, ‘why’. She had normalized her life so much so, that anything else was abnormal. That’s why she couldn’t come live by us, she couldn’t lead a normal life. It was abnormal to her. The only life she knew was the life with drugs and addicts.
After arriving back at the nursing home, I wheeled her back to her room, and I gave her a hug, telling her that I loved her, one, last, time. I meant it. I always meant it. I did love her, I do love her. I feel that it was and is undeserving at times, but I love her anyway. I walked away as she cried. That’s my last image of my mother. She said to my sister, ‘now I have to go through this alone, don’t I, just like everything else?’ My sister got into my car that day asking me if that is how I wanted to leave it, would I be ok if that was it. I was so upset, my mouth was so dry, my feet were numb. And I said yes, that she’d only lie if I asked her ‘why’. And we drove off.
I called the police later that day to report what we thought was a possible meth lab and her address. That was one of the hardest phone calls I’ve made to date. Calling the police on your dying mother tops the list. I couldn’t let anyone get hurt. The police investigated the home and notified me later that my suspicions were correct, there was evidence of a meth lab at the house. I’m not sure where this went from there, as I removed myself completely from the situation. I did not want to be her POA, her daughter, her anything. I was so mad, so hurt. Not only had she drug me into a mess one more time, this time it affected my child. I again was stupid enough to think she was ok. She wasn’t ok, she was never ok. She’d learned to hide it for many years, almost to the point it was professional behavior.
I will always listen to my inner voice. There are take-aways from every situation. This was mine. Stop and listen.
Her nurse from the Hope center had contacted me in May wanting me to know that she was going on hospice services and all treatment would be stopped and that it wouldn’t be much longer. She urged me to go see my mother or to even call. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t do it for my baby, more than anything. She hurt my baby. She didn’t have to hold my child after she had cried for the next few nights from what she saw. I did, I had to live with the fact that she brought my child into harms way. I couldn’t go, I couldn’t call. I had nothing left to say or to hear. No more of her fake, rehearsed conversations. I was done.
The day my mother had passed I received a text. A text.
I don’t know what I’d expected. I don’t know how I thought it would happen. I guess I thought there would be more time. More time to get over the hurt, more time to make the final decision to see her…one more time. I thought that when she was actively dying, someone would call. There was no call, nothing.
She wanted a celebration of life not a funeral. She wanted to be remembered for her ability to make people laugh. She was always joking and teasing someone. My grandmother told me that when my sister and I were little she was a great mother. She taught us to never depend on anyone, to make our own way. She wanted us to go to college. She never wanted us to be like her. She had to work hard, cleaning houses, on her hands and knees. She told me every time I spoke to her how proud she was of me. She told me how much she loved me. We talked on my long drives frequently. Now I have a strong void when I travel for work. We would talk at night when I’d stay in a hotel. She’d always tell me about these hospital blankets that she would get with each of her hospital stays, and how she wanted to sew a few of them together for me to have the kiddos sleep with, so that when I would travel I could take it and not be so homesick. She helped me through that homesickness at times. We’d talk for hours. I could tell as she got weaker and weaker with her cancer. I could hear the sound of her voice change and the breaths becoming harder to chase.
She was my mother. Even through the addiction I loved her. I prayed for her often, and worried constantly. I no longer worry, for I know she no longer has a need to eat, I no longer fear her overdosing and leaving me. She is no more. I miss her each day, and pray that it eases with time. I pray that I can forgive myself for not being there and her for the torture and pain she put me through.
There was no funeral. There was no goodbye. There was simply a text…