A WWII Navy Veteran who was a medic on Iwo Jima, treating Marines on the beaches shared with me the intense life and death decisions he faced when he was “sorting out” who was well enough to go to the ships and who needed morphine. “…and do you know who they call out for when they’re dying?” he asked. “God?” I guessed. “No. Their mothers.”
On this Mother’s Day, I reflect on my mother who raised me. She went to High School in the 1950’s and she was a “good girl.” I’m not kidding. She was involved in Redfeathers, Debate, and many other school-related supportive activities. She grew up with solid, dependable parents in a nuclear family. She had dreams and anticipation about her future that looked much different than the reality she was to live. The financial stress, conflict, alcoholism, mental-health problems, and drug-addicted family members that were to cross her path or become rooted in her life took her into a new and different direction. My mother has stepped up and taken care of some of her grandchildren – 5 at a time for a couple of years. She took care of her mother for over 6 years as she suffered Alzheimer’s Dementia. She endured the tragic decline of her mother losing touch every day just a little more in their home. My mother spends a great deal of time with a young granddaughter and they have a very close relationship. That little girl is being given some of the same invisible gifts that she gave to me…loyalty, forgiveness, honesty, and integrity. For those, I thank you.
I was adopted, so I technically have two mothers, one legal and one genetic. My biological mother elected to live in a home for unwed mothers and give me up for adoption at the age of 16. I came into this world with an unbelievable act of selflessness and sacrifice. I am forever grateful for my life. For that, I thank you.
As a mother myself, I am filled with gratitude as well as heartache with my relationships with my children. The most difficult time in my life was when all 5 of them were at the age of leaving home. I had, what would historically be called a nervous breakdown. I had no idea how much of what is important to me, the well-being of these people would change who I am at the very core.
I am close to most of my children and see them often. I am not geographically close to my youngest, the traveller and I miss her. But the one I think about the most is the daughter who is estranged, or maybe I am estranged. I wonder every day if there is something I should do. I’ve made mistakes and lashed out and I’ve written pleas and apologies. I don’t know if there is an answer, if there will be a reconnection. There are a lot of hurt feelings and resentments on both sides of the fence. I just try to exercise restraint of pen and tongue from lashing out in anger or frustration and I pray for God to do for me what I cannot do for myself. I also pray that this my daughter has peace, joy, love and freedom from fear. I have 5 grown children, but the resentments and conflict with my oldest daughter tie us painfully together. I am happy. I love my mothers and I love my children. Being a mother doesn’t look like “June Cleaver’s” life very often. Motherhood is a lifetime of growing and loving, crying and laughing…with the heart of a warrior. It’s sliding into homeplate…safe and covered with mud.
What I do know is that whether my children are near me or not, we are always connected by a bond that I share with not just one, but two women.