It wasn’t easy growing up in my household. I don’t remember my dad at home much and moms moods were unpredictable.
I’m not sure what was wrong with Mom mentally, but I know she was frequently depressed. Sometimes she’d lock herself in her bedroom for a week at a time. I remember her not eating correctly. Sometimes she would just pour milk over a slice of bread in a bowl to eat. She and my dad would scream a lot while my brothers and I would lay in bed with our heads under the covers, yet we never talked about it. I remember the housekeeper we had for awhile when Mom “went away.” Again, we never talked about it. She cried a lot.
Through her sadness she was a beautiful woman. We frequently talked and laughed together. I remember sitting and chatting at the table as I helped peel a pile of potatoes for our family of 7 kids. She taught me how to knit and crochet. I never really learned how, but it was fun spending time with her. She taught me cribbage and card games. Sometimes we’d sit together in our dining room, which had one wall entirely of glass, and giggle as we watched the hordes of chipmunks skittering about.
She also was a woman of great conviction. At family reunions she would argue with other family members about Richard Nixon and his dirty tricks. I asked her why she didn’t join the group “Daughters of the American Revolution” as some of our other family members. She wouldn’t because she hadn’t forgiven them for their previous “whites only policy” which they revoked over 20 years earlier in 1952. She rarely talked about her mother but would share how proud of her she was because she would join her friends in black churches and enjoy the services, which was unheard of in her day. Even though sex was an uneasy topic for my mom, we watched the movie Victor/Victoria together and laughed at the situations among the gay characters.
Mom, I remember the day in sadness and tears you begged me not to live a life like yours. You begged me to be happy. I can’t say I’ve always been happy, it’s been a rocky road, but I’m sure you’d be pleased to know advances in mental illness have improved greatly since your day. Me and millions of others are benefiting from these advances.
I’m sorry you’re gone from my life, but you’ll always be in my heart.
I’ll always love you.