Mothers Day

Mother's Day

I wrote this tribute to my mom in May 2008.It’s all still true 8 years later

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.

12 comments on Mothers Day

  1. This is so touching. My mother, and her mother before, both suffered from depression; however, like your mom, there wasn’t much in the way of treatment. Also, being mentally ill was almost looked upon as a sin. When I was diagnosed as bipolar, I know my parents were embarrassed by it; however, it gave me a better insight into Mom and her battles. Thank you for this tribute.

  2. This is a very beautiful tribute to your mom. My mom would also lock herself in her bedroom for weeks at a time but blamed it on a bad back. Now that I understand, I’m thankful the world of psychology has improved, and continues to improve.

    1. Yes. No matter how bad it gets we still need to be grateful (easier said than done, of course)

  3. My mom, too, used to lock herself in her bedroom as a result of severe depression.

    She didn’t then–and still doesn’t now–believe in what she calls “magic pills.” I wish she didn’t look down on my use of antidepressants, but I’m paving a new road for my daughter at least, one where she’ll be unashamed, if she needs to, to get help.

    1. I’m glad your mother’s attitude hasn’t swayed you from getting the treatment you need. Chemistry has saved my life.

  4. A very moving read!

    I second April in calling it beautiful – you provided a vivid glimpse into what it was like growing up with your Mom so concisely – that’s the sign of a great writer. Reading it reminded me to try a little harder to appreciate my (extremely) mentally ill mom who is still alive at 80. Thank you for sharing this…

  5. oh what a beautiful story. i wish i had that with my mother. and i wish my daughter would have it with me now too. your touching story has made me cry. you have made your mother proud.

    1. The fact I made you cry means I did good. I think of her every day and most of the times it’s good thoughts. We were best friends when we weren’t trying to kill each other lol

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