Six years ago today I lost my mother to non-hodgkins lymphoma. While time has numbed the way I feel, it hasn't healed the wound. I was 36 when she passed away. While losing a parent is something we all deal with, I took it hard. I grew up in an abusive house where my father physically and mentally abused mom and us kids. Through it all she did what she could to protect us and to try and instill in us the values necessary to go on to productive lives. The night dad held the knife to her throat, I went at him and he turned the knife on me. Neither of us were cut that night.
My three brothers and I have lead productive lives. We carry the ugliness of our childhoods, but to the best of my knowledge none of us have repeated the behavior of our father. I was the first person in my family to get a bachelor's degree. Three years before she died I received a doctorate. I accomplished what she told me I could. And so if anyone thinks I was too close to my mom, I probably was. And I don't care that I still carry the pain of her death six years later.
So anyway, to bring it back in line with this creation, mom was a crafter from way back. When we moved to Thailand for a couple of years, we had nothing for Christmas decorations. No problem. She found the old clothespins. You know, the ones without the metal. The ones that were a single piece of wood with a cutout. We used scraps of material and beads to decorate them like people and nutcrackers and then clipped them on the branches. The tree was beautiful. When Easter rolled around, we weren't supposed to eat the eggs, so she carefully broke the ends off the eggshell, cleaned them out, and dyed them. We then put little trinkets inside and glued doilies over the ends. One of the best Easters ever.
Over the years she quilted as an escape from her life. As the cancer was taking its toll, she began sewing cloth bags in varying shapes and sizes for each of us boys. Mom hated Christmas wrap as she saw it as wasteful and bad for the environment. So she sewed holiday bags as her last project.
I have a few things to remember her by. A quilt. The bags. And a home made rag doll her grandmother had made from scraps for me, the first great-grandchild.
Through all of the moves, the times mom had to abandon what possessions she had acquired, she always kept that doll for me. I never understood it because I played football, rode bikes, and camped. I never touched that doll after I was about two years old. But when she passed away, the doll was in a box to be given to me. Today, there are kits and supplies to create items that are, in all honesty, beautiful. That rag doll, made from scraps by a woman that lived through the Great Depression, and protected by a woman that never knew where she might be based upon what happened when my dad came home, is as good as it gets.
As my parting thought, I leave the poem I wrote sitting in her hospital room five days before she died. There is no magic to it. I know I didn't write in iambic pentameter or whatever. I am no poet, just a kid that was losing his mom.
I've seen things no son should see;
My mother in pain, no help from me.
She lies there all tired and spent;
Wondering where her spirit went.
As she wastes and writhes in pain;
I struggle daily to stay sane.
Over her life I've caused her grief;
Now her time is oh so brief.
It seems unfair, it seems unjust;
That she'll die in such a rush.
I've caused her to cry, for fear and anger;
I don't see how god put her in danger.
She looks to god and asks why;
I see it as hopeless, and start to cry.
I love her dearly, and her memories I keep;
For now she dies and I weep.