Mom furrowed her brows, pointed her finger at me and gave me her last words, “You little shit. I wished I would have never had YOU!” Her finger, pointed directly at my face, withdrew and she sneered at me in anger. My mother was lying on a hospital gurney waiting to be rolled into another room for another test. She was dying of cancer: it had spread all over her body into every major organ including her brain.
Knowing I would never see her again, I had asked her if there was anything she would like to say to me, she looked over at me, at first her expressionless gaze made me wonder if she even heard me. “I am leaving, mom. Is there anything you want to tell me before I go? We will never see each other again,” I repeated a little bit louder.
“Wow, Mom,” was all I could utter. I stood there staring at her, so I added what I was really thinking, “There went my Movie of the Week moment!” The scene I had imagined is that my mother would apologize for abandoning me and tell me she loved me. I cry, mom cries, the audience cries. Scene fades to black. Neither one of us cried, we just stared at one another. As the nurse pushed her down the hall, I stood in the same spot, taking in that last moment with my mother. I was not surprised she chose to attack me. It was her pattern which I rebelled against at a very young age. I was an angry young woman trying to get life right after so many wrongs. I was carrying a lot of excessive emotional baggage from my upbringing or lack of upbringing.
Our family imploded when my parents divorced. I was nine years old. My father had an affair and my mother refused to forgive him. When he left he married his mistress, and my mother started her descent into reclusive darkness. She was emotionally unstable and violent. Her health deteriorated along with her mind due to multiple strokes. Her face, already aging into a permanent frown, was distorted. I was in the sixth grade when my brother died on his sixteenth birthday. My mother lost herself, and she completely stopped caring for me.
One morning before school I went into her bedroom crying. She was in her usual spot: the right side of her bed, lying on her side, covers over her head. I was in the seventh grade and I told her I had nothing to wear. She pointed to her closet and told me to pick something from there. In 1972, a young girl didn’t look normal wearing her mother’s clothes. I found a skirt I hoped would work and then I went to my closet and sat down. I looked up and began sobbing as I looked at all the empty hangers. I literally had no clothes.
Mother did get food stamps so I was able to eat lunch at school for free. It was the most food I would have every day. I learned to do my own laundry; I cleaned the house and mowed the yard. Mom kicked me out of her house at the age of fourteen. I came back for a few months but left in fear she was going to hurt me while I slept. I had caught her about to burn me on a Saturday morning. I left that morning and didn’t see her for 6 years. She left me in San Antonio when she moved to Pennsylvania without a forwarding address. I heard the joke, you know the one where parents move away when their children enter their teen years and fail to tell their kids where they went. No one does that right? Alone in San Antonio, friends opened their homes. I survived. No one ever called an agency to report a young girl living all alone, or with families. I tend to think I was blessed so many families took me in and that “the village” saw me through!
I remember the call from my sister. It was a big surprise as my family was in Germany and one phone call could cost one hundred dollars within minutes. My husband was in the Army, we had two beautiful little girls ages three and four. Gail told me my mother was dying and she had asked to see my daughters. She had only seen my oldest a few times and had never met the youngest. I was perplexed she asked to see the girls as she had held no interest in my family, or me ever.
The Army will fly a family to the United States in certain situations, one being illness of a close relative if life threatening. I had a choice: Go and see her while she was alive. Go for the funeral. Do not go.
I opted to see her while she was alive.
We were flown to the nearest airport, which was in Manassas, Virginia. My father picked us up at the airport, a long drive from Louisville, Kentucky and we made the arduous trip to San Antonio, Texas where Mom had returned after a six-year hiatus up north.
My father walked into her room first. We gave him a moment with her and when we entered he was sobbing, and she just laid there staring at him. My mother had been a beautiful bride, but life ravaged her and left a twisted shell. Her struggles and illnesses destroyed her outer beauty. Her face was distorted from multiple strokes, her teeth were gone and she struggled with her speech. My daughters came up behind their grandfather and my mother sat up to see them. “Oh, h-h-ow n-nice,” she stammered. That was it; grandmother bonding was over. I sat down next to her and my father. His face red from emotion, he looked over at me and said, “She looks like you, Jane. She has your hair.” My mother replied clearly, “Beautiful.”
As if I needed to throw-up I ran out of the room. My tears came from such a deep part of my soul, they almost hurt. My mother and father had NEVER talked about me like that before. After I pulled myself together, I went back in the room. The conversation turned to my mother and what was going to happen within the next few days. She needed a place to die. I was the youngest, but I was the only one that acted on getting her a nursing home, doctor and ambulance to her final destination. Mom knew I was the one who arranged her transport. She had always told us kids that she did NOT want to EVER end up in a nursing home! However, there was no alternative: she needed 24 hour care, and none of us was in the position to create a hospice environment in our homes.
Three weeks after we returned to Germany the Red Cross contacted my husband. He was a busy man and forgot to tell me the news of Mom’s death for two and a half days. While sitting on his chair, eating a bowl of cereal, he remembered, “Kim,” he said talking with his mouth full of Cheerios, “I forgot to tell you, your mother didn’t make it.” He took another big bite of cereal. I said, “Didn’t MAKE it? What are you saying?”
I got up and left for our room. I turned and asked him to watch the girls; I needed some time alone. I had no idea that her passing would hurt so much. There was that cry again. I ached, I mourned, I rolled up in a ball and wished for my mommy. I guess I had wished that all of my life, and with her alive there was hope that one day she would show up. I guess I was mourning my hope. I spent two nights in my room, alone, crying and confused as to why her death had the impact on me that it was having.
The second night of mourning was the same as the first. I was so broken and I kept hearing her last words to me. When asleep that night I was told to wake up. I looked up and there she was. Like the angels in the popular show, Touched by an Angel, she glowed. Her hair was soft and full of light. Her face was beautiful, flawless, and glowing, and from pictures of her youth I would say she was in her late twenties or at the most 30. She was wearing a blue dress. I sat up in bed and touched her face. Her face was so kind, so full of love. “I came to tell you I am sorry and that I love you now the way I should have loved you. I am perfect now; my love is perfect. I will be with you always.” Then she held me. There was that cry again; this time not so painful, healing waters were mixing with my emotional pollution.
I was sitting up in bed. She was gone, and I immediately woke up my husband. “She was here!” I cried, “She was here!” I told him everything. “I think she knew she really hurt me with her last words and God let her come back to tell me she was sorry!” My husband told me I was dreaming, rolled back over and continued to sleep. In the morning I woke up feeling excited and happy. I then began to question the vision. It seemed real. Stinking thinking took over. It didn’t happen I concluded.
My husband came home at noon with the day’s mail. I received a letter from my father’s wife. She had sent a page torn out of The Daily Bread. She highlighted several things on the page. First, she highlighted the date, July 8th, my birthday. Second she placed her yellow marker on the title, which was about relationships. There were a couple of sentences under the yellow glow, “If a person dies in Christ and the relationship was bad, remember, with Christ all things become perfect. The relationship is perfected.”
Almost word for word, the article echoed what my mother told me in my vision. The article continued with a message to forgive and reading between the lines I knew I needed to unpack my emotional baggage. I was given a gift. She has been perfected, and I forgive her earthly mistakes. She is with Christ and as I unpacked my “mother didn’t love me” bags I knew she was with me. She is beautiful, radiant and full of light and love. Now she is mommy- and with me always. As for my baggage, I am down to a small carry-on size that fits in any normal overhead space!