Thursday, July 20, 2006

Death becomes her!?

The dad of 2 friends died last week. We, me and my roommate Pascal, went to the funeral last night. He supposedly died of a birth defect. What the hell?! He was 57 for crying out loud!? They said they would know more after the autopsy report. They were very close to their father. They would see him every week. Always doing something with him. It was my first social gathering since my panic attacks. Aside from crying, I was fine. No symptoms. Nothing. On the way back I started thinking about my mom. Maybe now is a good time to tell you about her. My mom was young, hip, she would have fitted very well as a stand in for one of Austin Powers' party scenes. I have a picture of her in a short yellow dress with silver thigh high shiny boots. She was hot for the times. Very good in school. She worked in a bank until my birth. She met a guy, got married in 1966 and tried to have a baby. This child, a boy, was stillborn. 11 months later I was born. My mom suffered a hemorrhage when she had me. The one after me had no heart beat after the first 3 months. The last, a little girl, my mom lost her in the toilet. I saw the fetus in the bowl. We named her Angel. I was about 7 years old. So I was to be the only child they would ever have. My mom, which I didn't know at the time, was an alcoholic. She used to send me to the grocery store to buy her small bottles of cider. I remember I was about 5 or 6. I guess she used to drink, but maybe not that much. I remember good times. Great times. We always had something to do. Then when I was about 9, it either got worst or I started noticing. I don't know. I remember finding glasses full of wine in the cookie cupboard and emptying them in the sink. I remember finding bottles here and there. Even in my room. At one point she started selling my books to have money for booze. She even did her sister's laundry for extra cash. A few things happened when I was 14. -I came back from school on special permission from the principal because I was sure I had left the stove on. It wasn't. But I did find something else. My mom was there with a bleeding nose. She was drunk and had fallen somewhere. To this day I still don't know where. -It was the first and only time that I laid a hand on her. I wanted to go ice skating and she was holding on to my arms saying that I was not going. With the outside of my fists, I hit her upper arms until she let go of me. I ran out of the house, fell down in the snow and cried. -Once, I came home and she was writhing on the floor with her hands held up. A neighbor's kid came and told my dad that she had fallen down and was crying. She was to heavy for him to lift. They got her home by pushing her on a sled. She was drunk, she fell and could not get back up on her own. Her hands were frozen. She must have been very humiliated afterwords because I have a vivid image of her with her hands up, in bandages, being fed by my father at his moms New Year's Eve dinner. -Later in the spring I came home after school, hit my nose on a locked front door. See my mom was always home. So unless there was something special, I didn't have a key. I knocked on the door, the windows. Went around back, the door was also locked. I looked through the living room window, from there I could see in my parents room. I saw her feet and part of her legs. She was lying on the floor next to the bed. I opened a metal grid from one of the garage windows to get in. This was the high window in the garage door. I had to go in feet first in a 10 by 14 inch hole. She was in pain, her nose was broken again. -In a moment of clear, non drunken conscience, she told me she was waiting for me to turn 18 to divorce my dad. She also told me that she never loved him. On her wedding day she told her mom, and her mom told her, "you will not disgrace the family". By the time I turned 15, everything changed. She stopped drinking, lost weight, she was at 300lbs by then. She went down to 150lbs. She went back to school and got herself a job in a hospital for kids. She would go to AA meetings. My dad couldn't stand it. She was now getting to be independent. She was making her own money, new friends that he didn't know. He got very jealous. I was happy. She was back. We were closer then ever. Being that the times were so great, I didn't want to tell her about my secret. I didn't want her to fall again. A week before my 18th birthday, she got my dad served with divorce papers. A week later he was out of the house. We were like roommates. We'd hang together, chat, go to movies. My mom was cool. She loved Sci-Fi movies. My friends loved her. She was part of the gang. Maybe that's how she was because she was never really a good mother. So she decided to be one of my best friends. About a year after that, she came home from a vacation and started drinking again. One Sunday morning I was woken up by the door bell. A medic asked me if I knew that woman. It was my mom. She had taken all her pills and drank something. She had fallen on the side walk and broken her nose again. It was her second attempt. She told me later that she once did the same thing, but just woke up the next day. I was giving her money every month to help out, but I noticed the bills were coming in red. She was drinking the money I was giving her. So I told her that from then on I would pay bills instead. She kept drinking. One afternoon, I called the local clinic crying that I couldn't take it anymore. They told me to come in right away. I saw a social worker, and with her started realizing that I had to get out of there. In November of that year, my mom grabbed my arm one night while I was on my way to an exam, and she told me, "I know what you're hiding under your bed". Magazines of naked guys. I told her now was not the time. She was drunk and I had an exam. We never discussed it after. The following summer I moved out. Once she called me over cause she felt sick. I noticed all her pill bottles were empty. She was on her third attempt. Either my being there stopped her or she couldn't go through with it, I don't know. Then in July of that year, her fourth and last attempt worked. She had taken all her pills and drank I don't know how much, but she was gone. She was 44. I was 21. I went back to the social worker the next week, and told her I wasn't crying that much. That's when she told me one of the first thing I told her in our first meeting, "to me my mom is dead. She just visits me from time to time". I had been mourning for a long time already. Am I mad that she left me? Yes Do I understand her actions? It was, to her, the only way out. Do I find her a good mother? Yes and no. She did her best. But no parent should raise a kid when they're an alcoholic. No parent should tell they're kid they will divorce their father in 4 years nor that they don't love him, never have. No kid should live through 4 suicide attempts. Do I love her? I do! She's my mom! And I'm still proud of her!? Love, J Sleep well mom!?

12 Comments:

Blogger Snooze said...

How incredible that you are able to look back and not blame or judge. I can't even imagine what it was like to have to look after your parent when you were so young.

7/20/2006 08:38:00 AM  
Blogger john said...

You are such a strong person, to have lived through all that, to have taken care of your mother and to have become the person you are today.

7/20/2006 08:42:00 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Shit.

7/20/2006 08:44:00 AM  
Blogger Michael Guy said...

wow. I know what you're saying. My BF was an alcoholic. He's been sober the last 4 years. But before then--life was hell here. Broken furniture/lies/messes/infidelity. I've had a lot to deal with...our 'recovery' seems to have healed a lot. But still...to have to deal with that as a child...with a parent. You are a very strong man. Do you know that? I learned that about myself, too.

7/20/2006 08:47:00 AM  
Anonymous The Rommate said...

Though I already knew this story, it's the first time Joe that you've expressed it that way. Reading it was like I was living it through you eyes. I find you incredibly strong and am very proud of your own therapy for the naive. This blog is helping you a lot. A Special thanks to you all for your support and love towards my pal, my best friend Joe. He has come a long way !

7/20/2006 09:58:00 AM  
Blogger Spider said...

Wow - that speaks volumes for who you are today and the man that you are... thank you for sharing - you are a very special man...

7/20/2006 10:40:00 AM  
Blogger Derek said...

thanks for sharing with us that part of you. Sounds like you have worked through much of this, and have been able to forgive.
There is much love in this entry.

7/20/2006 10:46:00 AM  
Blogger Daniel, the Guy in the Desert said...

My mom has had a difficult life, too. She's still with us, though, living in an assisted care facility. It works much better that way.
It's plain to see how much you love your mom. I love that.

7/20/2006 11:15:00 AM  
Blogger sevensoft said...

that was so sad. if i was at home reading this i would have started to cry. with all in consideration, the events have made you into a very special and wonderful person.

7/20/2006 03:26:00 PM  
Blogger JoeL said...

Thanks guys!

But I'm not sure I'm a better person. I might have been able to do more.

And that kid that had to grow up so quickly, well he's coming back big time and now he wants what he lost.

Am I going crazy?!

Sometimes I wish I was.

7/20/2006 03:44:00 PM  
Blogger rodger said...

Joel...it is unlikely you could have done more. It is very easy to think you could have in hindsight but that is not the reality of the situation. You did all you could at that time in your life and you simply wish you could have done more. Don't! Take solice in the fact that you did what you could and you've forgiven her and still love her as I'm sure she did you.

Alcoholism is a terrible disease, you cannot put any blame on yourself...or her. Children of alocoholics groups are great for dealing with these memories and situations. I know...I've been there.

You, my friend, are stronger for this and are showing that you can overcome it all. Sometimes just letting it out, seeing it in print or hearing it is all it takes to begin to heal and truly understand.

Keep it up...you inspire!

7/20/2006 10:56:00 PM  
Blogger Gray said...

Agreeing with Rodger, hindsight is always 20/20. You did a magnificent job as a youngster - dealing with all of that! My God, how can you possibly ask if you could have done more? Only by looking back with a 20/20 perspective could you possibly think of other possibilities! This post was very moving, Joel, and I feel that I know you better for it!

7/21/2006 05:25:00 AM  

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