On February 28, 2015, we lost my mother after years of declining health. She never really recovered from the death of my brother in 2003 and her manageable chronic health conditions began to progress much faster than the doctors anticipated. By 2009, we had to place her in a nursing home because she just needed more care than we could give her at home. Fortunately, we were able to get her into one of the best nursing homes in the state and honestly, they gave her exceptional care.
Despite her physical ailments, she was still mentally sharp as could be until 2013 when she started having some recurrent infections. As those started, she declined mentally a little with each hospital admission and by late 2014, she knew who we were and that was about it. The last six months were hard, so her passing was a blessing. So a few months after she died, we took a family vacation to the coast of North Carolina and scattered her ashes into the Atlantic. She loved the beach and as she was freed from her ailing body, she was able to be laid to rest in her favorite place.
My relationship with my mother was a difficult one. I love her still, and I accepted her for the person she was long before her death. It wasn’t like she was a horrible person or anything. I don’t know how to describe it. I will just say my mother had a history of prescription drug and alcohol abuse when I was a child…and many of the character flaws that lead to her substance abuse remained with her when she became clean and sober. If you have a loved one who has a history of substance abuse, you will know what I am referring to.
Despite her flaws though, my mother did do a lot of things right. Education was incredibly important in our family. She and my step-father made an incredible number of sacrifices so I could attend an excellent boarding school and college. Even with the financial aid, work study and scholarships, sending me to school to get me away for a horrible school system was still difficult. But they did it. They helped to make it happen so I could have the best education possible.
My mother also taught me tolerance of others. My mother was one of those people who truly didn’t care about you skin color, gender, religion, who you were sexually attracted to or anything else so long as you had a good soul. Even during the beginning of the AIDS crisis in the 1980’s, my mother would say she didn’t understand why the world was so afraid of homosexuals…they were just trying to love who they loved.
Knowing that, I wish my mother had been able to know the real me. She never got to meet me as the person you all know me as. I don’t think she even had a clue that this was ever a possibility when she and the rest of the family were so worried about me and my depression. I wish I had found the strength to accept myself and show her the real me before she had passed. I guess you could say that is one of the few regrets I have had in life…not finding my strength sooner to show her and a few other family members who I really was and that I could be happy.
Occasionally, I will sit down and write letters to Mom. Maybe she sees me writing them. Maybe she doesn’t. I guess that all depends on what your faith is and the real facts of the world and afterlife…which we will never know until we die. What I do know is it helps me to work through the difficult past Mom and I had. Not too long ago though, I wrote a very emotional letter to her about my transition. It was one of those gut wrenching letters where I just spilled so much raw emotion onto the paper. You could say it was all words I wish I could say to her in person right now.
While I don’t normally keep the letters I write to her, this letter and a couple since…I have saved. My plan is the next to I make it to the beach, I want to leave the letters for her. All of them have to do directly with my transition so I guess you could say I really want to “hand deliver” them to her.
My plan once I get to the beach?
To stand there in the sand and read each letter to her so that the breeze carries my words to her ears. Then I plan to place the letters in the ocean and let the waters of the Atlantic deliver the letters directly to her. Maybe its silly, but its the closest I can get to mailing them or hand delivering them to her.
And this way, I know she will receive them…and know more about me as the daughter she never knew she had.
See it on Flickr.
Foxcity – Cold Outside – 4 9L Arm adjustment with Animare)