This is a line I wrote down several years ago when she did die.
After receiving the call from my brother, I walked outside and sat in the yard for several hours watching the night clouds wash the sky and wondered: “What should I be feeling?”
Last night, bored by the television and playing guitar, I sat out on the porch and watched the light filtered through the dancing leaves. It made me think of that night and the woman I called “Mom”.
It wasn’t anything I expected. This was the woman who bore me. This was the woman who took care of me and talked to me and filled in when all seemed lost. She made sure I was fed and clothed and tried to teach me the proper things to make a better citizen of my self (not so sure I learned all that).
She was 33 when I was conceived in February. I always thought I was a mistake since there were 5 ½ years between my brother and myself. I knew who my dad was because I looked just like him.
Anyway, there I was being taken care of by a woman who named me after her brother who went missing in the war only three years over.
Since my father and I had little in common, other than looks, my mother was the communicator. She would take me to the hospital after being bitten by a dog, but only after talking to the census taker. She would put the trashcan next to the bed when I came home drunk, but never discussed her own drinking problems.
My mother had come from a small town and had been swept up in the fame and glitter of the big band era. She had modeled in Chicago and sang in the bright lights of the ballrooms.
I wondered if I might have another brother (or sister?) by her first marriage she never talked about. I reviewed her life after my brother and I created a 50’s family for these two rock stars of the time who wanted to stay close to the limelight but was only hire help at that point.
She tried to make something out of me by introducing me to daughters of politicians and corporate giants at club dances and fancy gatherings. She treated me to camps where the wealthy sent their kids for summer relief to learn the skills of sailing, archery, shooting rifles and short sheeting beds. She bought me the closest trendy fashions so I would fit in with the upper crust.
I read somewhere the youngest child is rebellious; so all her hard work did not fit my path, particularly when I found sex, drugs, and rock and roll.
She never tried to persuade me to follow a dream I did not believe in. She listened to the most awful noise made by four boys in the living room and said, “Some of that didn’t sound too bad.”
I found out much later she tried to guide girls I would bring over to the house for long hours of pressing lips under a 3 watt blue light to stay away from me.
She always provided, even when she had to dip into her secret money stash she was keeping from my father.
But when my father died, it all changed.
I was the only family around to take care of her. Long hours of craziness, watching the person called “Mom” fall apart. Late night phone calls, endless house cleanings, family’s conferences with everyone turning away from the problems, and the realization I could not fix it.
After several hospital stays and arrest records, a permanent solution was decided and “Mom” was placed in a facility providing meals, room and medical treatment if necessary. She called it "being put in jail".
That’s when my mother died.
She actually gave up several years later, but it had already been over.
All the years of raising me and taking care of me had been paid back.
On my ride this morning, I was thinking about "Mother's Day" and still wondering what I felt about this woman.
Then I saw a couple cross the street. Talking at a fast pace I could not hear the conversation, but I heard her look at him and laugh. A joyful laugh as a child in wonder or a girl appreciating the attention and responding in a pleasant manner.
"That's where it starts." I thought to myself. Further along on the ride I spied a couple slowly walking down the street hand-in-hand. "Won't be long now," I thought "before they are parents."
Someone asked me why I didn’t have children.
Without a pause I answered, “Because I’ve never found the right mother.”