For Mom, On My 1st Mother’s Day Without You

 

You were sweet most of the time
and you were, most definitely, beautiful, even in your old age.
You were a shitty mother, though, for much of it anyway,
worried more about your eye shadow and the man in your life
more than about me, or who was raping me,
you simply couldn’t
deal with all of that.
You were funny and could never remember
the punchlines to jokes. Always had to call into the next room
to ask your husband, that same man
who you thought might hurt me in my sleep
so you put me to bed with hammers, riding crops and sharpened screw drivers,
just in case.
You loved my children, your grandchildren, though you couldn’t often remember their names. We still laugh about that.
Every one of them was called by the name of the first born.
I plan on working that into my routine as I age
and forget important things, like names. They loved you, too.
You let them know what life was with a grandparent who wasn’t after their souls, just a game of Rummy on Thanksgiving and several comments about how nice you looked on any given day.
I was 47 before I forgave you for being human.
We had 5 years or more-or-less good relationship once I learned that lesson, the one about how mothers are just people, who are more or less gifted at mothering, who love their children and fuck them up anyway.
Then you agreed to move into the house next door.
I so looked forward to having coffee with you every morning
to sitting on your porch and not talking, just listening to the birds
and, probably, the neighbors mowing and running weed whackers
but it would still have been nice, that just sitting together, smelling the waft of gasoline fumes and cut grass in warm weather.
You lived in that house for 13 days before the strokes
were noticeable enough that we took you to the hospital
and they paid you no mind. It seems that age 80 is some sort of unspoken
cutoff for caring. I’m still angry at some of those people
for the way they treated you.
We never really got into a routine with that morning coffee
but I’m grateful for the few days we did have as neighbors,
for the peace that came into our lives as mother and daughter.
The last words you said were these, “Always remember,
always remember, always remember…I love you, I love you,
I love you.”
Bettina Colonna Essert, May 8, 2016

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