…her eyes had not changed. Time had not made her better. The fantasy I was having as I was driving hour after hour to reach her was gone as quick as I saw the ten- thousand words she was not saying to me with the fury of her green eyes.
“Mom, can I have this purse?”It was a gorgeous suede purse that was black with a blue liner. It was three dollars. It was the Spring of 1983. She was in a good mood that day. The sun was shining when she walked into my bedroom that morning. I was playing with my ponies on the floor. I had just finished brushing their manes. All silky pink, white and golden. Wow, they really looked amazing I thought as the sun shined on the golden yellow pony with the golden mane. Cotton Candy was up next. “Which one is your favorite baby girl?” mom asked. I didn’t have a favorite. I had to love them all equally. I couldn’t tell her that. I needed an affirmative answer for her. I looked at Butterscotch. I was holding her. “Butterscotch,”I said. I looked at my other ponies, hoping they didn’t feel betrayed, hoping they knew I loved them.
“Want to go to the thrift shop today?” Mom asked cheerfully. I put Butterscotch in the beige plastic pony circle next to the white plastic water trough and a bale of hay that looked more like a cube of cheddar cheese than a bale of hay to me.
It didn’t matter whether I wanted to go and she knew it. I knew it. “Sure Mom,” I said. I looked at Minty and Blossom. Picked up the small brush belonging to each one of them and accordingly began to brush them again before they joined Butterscotch. I took two more plastic bales of hay and placed them next to each pony and figured they could share the two water troughs. I petted each one of them and fixed a few stray hairs on their manes that were out of place. Perfect. They were perfect.
I made my way down the stairs. The steps creaking in the old house below my feet gave no one the opportunity to escape. I looked outside to see my favorite tree. The sun was hitting it from the east I said. I thought, I hoped I was right because I had a test coming up in school on Monday.
Mom was smiling from what I could see in the side mirror of the car, her long blonde hair blowing out the window in the April breeze. I jumped in the front seat nearly missing the pine tree air-freshner with my left knee. Mom lit her Marlboro Light and put on a Barbara Streisand cassette. Woman In Love played from the car speakers. I watched as the swirl from the cigarette artistically danced towards me.
The sun was shining off of this golden disco like belt that was hanging with a crotched plant hanger that was five cents in the thrift store corner near a neatly folded pile of fitted bedsheets. Spiderman, a sheet with cats and dogs was peeking from under a Rainbow Brite sheet. How do they get the ends to fold neatly like Mom did? The cheap five cent plant hanger shined more beautifully than that disco belt and I felt sad for the plant hanger.
Mom was in front of the jeans. Size 3-4 was my job to look for her. She was getting thinner. I put her size 5-6 jeans on her bed when I found them in my clothes a few weeks ago. Mom was always in amazing shape. She was serious about good eating. Shopping trips to the market were enjoyable for me because Mom had patience to teach me about what was good to put in your body and why certain chemicals in my most wanted Boo-berry cereal was bad. The older I got, the more I realized that she was right about good eating and vitamins. See that was the thing about Mom, she was good too. She was fire and ice. She was sadistic and sweet. She was rage and peace. She was the sacred and the profane. She was a giver of pain recycled. She injected the medicine with the venom. She was the night and the day. She gave the shirt off her back as she made mental reminders for emotional IOU’s. She was everything I wanted to be and nothing I wanted.
“God, let me cash in on the emotional IOU’s,” I demanded in my interior as I stood there looking into her eyes in her cream colored room. I needed a lifeline. I needed something to make her smile. Twenty people were outside the room I said to myself. If she tries to attack me I am safe.
I wanted my Cabbage Patch Kid Doll with the minty green summer suit with forest green delicate flowers that I took so well care of. My babygirl who I never abused. She was on a feeding schedule and I changed her clothes three times a day. She was my everything. I was the mom that I always wanted and I was a good mom. I was good at taking care of people and things. It made me feel alive. It was pure joy as a child to even water a plant. To sustain life, to help a soul who needed something, anything. It was a need, a want, it was air to breathe. There was an invisible tattoo on my head that read… ‘let me help you because I am hurting so much inside that I can’t but not help anything or anyone who has a mustard seed of despair, want, a sad glance, give it to me. Let me harbor it in my ship yard.’
The shipyard was almost abandoned. I was healing from her abuse over years. God was in me and I was in Him. I united my wounds with Jesus Wounds and He bled my mothers venom from my veins with His and He gave me His Life. My True and Real Mother, My Lady. My Queen. My Rosa Mystica. My Salve Regina. My Blessed Mother. She was there with me. I could be weak in front of Her. She took my brokeness, just like she did for Her Son and She held me as a Mother should hold their child. I was no longer motherless. I never was. She was always there. She is always here.
I heard the nurses outside walking back and forth, caring for residents. It was just her and I. Where was her roommate? In fear and old habit, I looked back down to the floor. I wished the floor was not so clean in that moment so I could focus on something. I looked at her. Her hair was just below her ears. Her face was sunken in. My eyes went to her lips. Still pursed. The same kind of look when she was trying to not lose control in the store over a fellow shopper who was in her way. I wanted to yell to the shopper, “She’s a thrower of things. Watch out,” but I reasoned that a can of biscuits is less painful than what she would deal to me so I was quite.
“I haven’t seen you in awhile babygirl,” she said with a lemon lime voice. “Hey Mom, I’m sorry,” I said.
What did I just say? “No,” I cried a little inside, “why Melissa? You promised yourself you wouldn’t say the word ‘sorry’ to her.” Failure. Failed. One for her I said. I was keeping count this time. I had fought so hard to get back up from her grip of emotional and mental games. “Work and life has just been so busy,” I said looking back down at the floor. I was a liar.
I screamed out in my interior as I looked out the window keeping my head tilted back just a little, “Hey Mom, let me tell you why I have been gone for a year and a half. Because, do you remember when you promised me you were going to stop calling my phone, Joeys phone, the kids phones Mom, do you remember? Remember all the non stop calls to all our phones all in one day because I wouldn’t answer because I just couldn’t. I needed a break. Well guess what? We were all right there, watching as one phone rang – then the next phone rang -and then the home phone rang – and it was like this freakish orchestra that I would hear as I was trying to sleep at night and I couldn’t so I had to drown out the mental insanity by sleeping with a fan on as I have had to my entire life Mom because my mind wouldn’t stop! And guess what? Your grandkids think your crazy and Joey does too! I told you I needed some time Mom! I told you life was becoming too heavy for me and I needed some time.What did you say to me Mom?! Do you remember??!!! What did you always say when I couldn’t talk on the phone because I had just walked into the house from a twelve hour day? What did you say Mom?!!
I wanted to scream at her, ANSWER ME! ANSWER ME NOW BECAUSE I HAVE NOTHING LEFT!! You have bled me to death mom. I have nothing left mom. Let me tell you what you said to me Mom. You left messages after messages telling me to not forget the insurance policy that was in my name when you died. Do you remember the last call? “Hey babygirl, I added accidental insurance to the policy. Do you remember that?” I do Mom. Let me tell you what was happening to me as I stood over the answering machine and tears splashed on the black cover as I heard your voice. I felt nothing mom. I felt nothing because I was dead inside. Do you remember all the times you would call Joey to relay to me the messages about how your funeral will be taken care of and paid for when I refused to come to the phone? Do you know what that did to my mind Mom?! TELL ME!!!
I wanted to shake these damn demons that took over her life out of her life! I would have sold my soul to the devil to make her healthy again. I wasn’t living anyways. I was in her numbing world of Maureen. Another suicide attempt on the horizon. The pills didn’t work this time, huh mom? The moving train that you jumped in front of didn’t work and then the cops are at the door. I was seventeen and pregnant with both families first grandchild and you knew it! … this will be your sixth attempt, right? Right?! Yep. I wish you had died Mom! I wish this wasn’t my life! I wish I wasn’t here! I wish I didn’t feel this small again. …. But I didn’t say any of those words to her. I kept them in my fear box, put the bow back on it and stored it away and asked her if she wanted to go for a small stroll to the sitting room.
“ I knew you would come baby girl,” she said. “Yeah, I knew too Mom,” I said. I looked down at the white, clean, shiny floor as we walked to the sitting room.
- This story of my childhood abuse is taking something out of me. I broke down three times while writing this entry and I walked away twice. I wish I could write more in a day but some memories and flashbacks are a little heavy. This is my third attempt at trying to write about my mothers abuse since she has died in 2016. I have never gotten this far.