Miss You/Hate You, Mom

My mom passed away in January, 1997, of breast cancer, metastasized to the bones, brain and liver.  I miss her, and I wish I had her back.

But…

It’s funny (not funny ha-ha) how much you learn about someone when they’re gone.

My mother like to watch people fail.

My mother poisoned me against my own father.

My mother was borderline bi-polar, and drove away anyone who ever got close to her.

I used to fight with my mother monthly, like clockwork.

My mother kept me from ever really knowing my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins — the entire maternal side of my family, really — because of her hatred for them.

My mother held grudges.  Like, really held grudges.  Sears and Roebuck pulled a bait and switch once in 1967, and she never shopped there again.  She and my father divorced in 1983, and when I started planning my wedding in 1996, she told us that if my father were there…she wouldn’t be.  And had she not passed away before the ceremony…she wouldn’t have.  AND, she would have held it against me for the rest of her life.

I have a pair of aunts — one of them really is my aunt — who have been a couple for as long as I’ve been alive…and my mother never accepted it…hence, I found out on my own, after she’d passed away, when staying at my aunts’ bed and breakfast.  No, get your mind out of the gutter…we walked by their room and saw there was only one bed.

Nothing I ever did was good enough for my mother.  If I got all A’s and one B on my report card, she said “why wasn’t it all A’s?”  When I finally did get all A’s, she said “what’s the big deal, I knew you could do that, what took you so long?”  If it was cold, I heard “why didn’t you cut any firewood?”  If I cut firewood, it was “we need more than that.”  If I cut more than that, it was “why didn’t you drag it in on the sled and stack it in the house?”  If I did that, it was something else.

So now I’m in my 40’s.  I don’t have a relationship with anyone on my mother’s side of my family…a fact pointed out by my wife tonight when she said she was puzzled that I never, ever talk about any of my cousins on my mom’s side.  I realized…I’ve never met most of them.  I’ve met one, that I can think of.  My mom hated her older sister, so we didn’t visit.  My mom’s oldest sister left home when she was young, and was a grandma by 30 or so…and I met one of HER kids once, I think.  Only one of mom’s younger brothers has had kids, and I think I’ve met them once, as well, but mom didn’t like him either, so we didn’t visit.  Her family even has a huge reunion every year, but every year she’d fill me with guilt about wanting to go, so we wouldn’t.  Eventually I quit wanting to.  Nothing seems harder than answering the question “why’d you wait so long to come?” 230 times.

Christmas?  At home, we didn’t visit anyone.  Thanksgiving?  Same.  Easter?  Same.  I thought it was normal until I met my wife, and we went over to her family’s house for every holiday for huge gatherings.

And the love of failure?  She knew I have a phobia of needles…and a love of flight.  So when I said I wanted to be a pilot, she told me, “you know pilots have to have yearly physicals?  Tough ones.  With lots of needles.  And you have glasses, so you can’t be one anyway.”  She didn’t tell me this once…she told me this every time I brought it up…for over ten years.  Want to play football?  “Okay, but you’ll need a physical, and they’ll give you a shot, and I won’t drive you to practice, and you’ll break your arm.”  And on and on.

And throughout the 27 years I had my mom, I loved her, and I trusted her, and I always thought she told me the truth.

But she didn’t.  And I hate her for it.

Yet, I still love her, because she was my mother, and little boys love their mother even as they commit real atrocities on them — much worse than the poisoning and manipulating that my mother did to me.

So what do you do when your relationship with your mother has fucked up your relationship with your father, your cousins, your entire family and colored your entire outlook on relatives and relationships?  I don’t know, that’s what.

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