Wet and Aggressive Corella challenges Magpie

Wet and Aggressive Corella challenges Magpie

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

WEP June Challenge - Unravelled Yarn

The WEP (Write, Edit, Publish) Challenge so generously hosted by Denise Covey and Yolanda Renee is back.  Olga Godim and Nilanjana Bose have joined the team, providing welcome support to the doughty duo and adding to the wealth of ideas and talent.  Yolanda is not well and is taking time out.  She will be sorely missed and we all wish her a speedy and complete recovery.

This June the WEP challenge is to create around the very broad theme of Unraveled Yarn.  We are asked to create something from the prompt - and can do so through fiction, non-fiction, photography...   



 

If you visit here and click on any names with a DL next to them you will be taken to some wonderful pieces.   As always I expect to marvel at the other participant's creations yet again.


This theme has been haunting me for a while.  My piece is an exorcism, a catharsis, or something between the two.


Unravelled.



Joan was a scientist. A mathematician. A statistician.


She was an innovative cook, a gifted gardener and an embroiderer (of fabric and words). 

She was a woman of determination and courage.  Widowed in a new country with three small children (one of them very ill) she ensured that they had everything they needed and much of what they wanted.  Poverty demanded that clothes were made not bought, a necessity she turned into an art form.


She ran an unofficial women's refuge from home.  Families in crisis came to lunch and stayed for weeks.  She taught migrants English in her lunch hour.


Bobbin lace intrigued her.  So she taught herself.  Taught herself so well that she was invited to make the lace collars and cuffs for the Parliamentary Speaker when the new Parliament House in her adopted home opened.

This bobbin lace phoenix was one she designed and made for me over thirty years ago.


She was a heavy smoker who loved coffee, wine and conversation.  She had a nose like a parrot and a mop of curly hair she described as a flying doormat.  The neighbour's small son called her Mrs Bosoms.  She laughed.


She was complicated, inspirational and the woman I aspired to become.  I was the only child of her second marriage.  A marriage she refused to contract until she was certain it was right for my brothers.  At a time when it 'wasn't done' I was born out of wedlock and attended my parent's wedding celebration.  I am told I had hiccups for days.


When my father died, that inspirational woman died too.  In the weeks after his death she numbed her pain with alcohol.  Those weeks blurrily slipped into months and years.  Her medicinal doses of wine started earlier each day.  She was often very drunk before nine, and rarely completely sober.


Always an independent woman she still claimed the title.  And rang me dozens of times each day with demands for assistance and stories of persecution and woe.  There was a grain of truth to her tales, but that grain was often small, inconsequential and well hidden.


Her world shrank to exclude any source of happiness or joy.  She no longer read, cooked, gardened, or sewed.  She shunned friends and alienated those who refused to take the hint.  She also did her excellent best to set family members against each other. 

She spent her days sitting on the lounge room floor with a coffee cup, overflowing ash trays and a cask of wine beside her.


In a rare co-operative moment she agreed that she probably shouldn't drive.  I quickly sold her car, which didn't cramp her style.  The local grocer delivered her wine, her cigarettes and miniscule amounts of food.  She was characteristically resourceful in finding ways to avoid leaving home.  Did you know that you could send dentures to the dentist for repair by taxi?  Neither did I.


There were hospital stays.  Lots of hospital stays.  Alcoholic poisoning, malnutrition,  falls...  Professional input and support.  Nothing changed.


She was sad, lonely and despairing.

I was sad, angry and despairing.


Then she had a massive stroke.  She spent over nine months in hospital.  Forgive me, but I was glad.  She was safe.  She wasn't drinking.  She was eating. 


In hospital she continued her skilled manipulation of people.  One day I told her that I was very, very tired and wouldn't be in the next day.  Shortly after nine the next morning the phone rang.  It was the hospital. 'Your mother is in tears because you said you were never coming back.  You need to come in.'  I went, and was greeted with 'I thought you weren't coming in today'.


She was adamant that she wanted to go home, and although she needed 24 hour a day care, the hospital administrators helped her achieve that goal.  Significant household modifications had to be made and nursing care organised .  I was responsible for arranging both.


She had been home for nearly two hours when she had her first fall.  The next day the carer rang me again.  Mama had rung up her local supermarket and ordered delivery of both wine and cigarettes, despite being without either for nearly ten months.  The pattern continued.  The carers would ring me several times each day.  My presence at her home (two buses away) was often essential.

Ten days after she returned home the carer rang me to say that she was very far from well and refusing medical treatment.  When I got there it was obvious that she was desperately ill so I called the ambulance.  Furious she told the paramedics that I was being selfish and just wanted her out of her own home.  The hospital rang me in the small hours to say she was dying.  She died shortly after I got there without gaining consciousness.  And in our last speaking interaction we were both angry.  Which I mourn. 


When my  mother took the plunge into alcoholism she became a stranger to the truth.  A while after her death I discovered that this trait wasn't alcohol related.


For example we had always been told that her brother, a doctor, had died of an untreated melanoma.  It was implied  that he died relatively young, unmarried and childless.  Years after my mother's death a brother's exploration of the family tree revealed that our uncle had died, of a heart attack, a few years after my mother.  He had four children.  He had been a doctor.


My father was the warp to my mother's weft.  Without him her life fell into disarray.  I could not fill the gaps. 


Learning that my family history was built on a tissue of lies caused my world to lurch.  I will never know why she felt the need to fabricate a different past.  I do not and cannot know what her reasons are.  I cannot alter them. 


A shift in focus is finally helping me dispel the grief, the guilt, the anger and the confusion.  The ugly years were there, but I am now also remembering and celebrating the woman she was rather than the tragedy she became. 

Word Count 999 words.
Comment rather than critique.

 



132 comments:

  1. family life can be complicated Love from Poland

    ReplyDelete
  2. Your words held me tight glued to every thought, I welcomed the bits and pieces as if you were really reaching out to just me sitting there listening. Yes some of it was as if I were reading from a diary of my own family. This sad journey is exactly how my first husband at 52 left us. I too, long before his final days refused to allow anger or resentment to take over my being. Your ending, as well as the entire story was well put. This was one of my favorite lines, it helped hold back tears. Did you know that you could send dentures to the dentist for repair by taxi? Neither did I.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Karen S.: I wish I had been able to put the anger away earlier. A lot earlier. Thank you so much for this heartfelt comment.

      Delete
  3. Perhaps more families than we realise hide similar unhappiness.
    I think there is a universal force that drives us to create our own private "family." Words, paint, thread, song, drug...anything to ease the pain of the reality.In this case, alcohol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. dinahmow: Thank you. And yes, I think there are a lot of ducks out there - appearing serene as they float through life with their little legs going hell for leather out of sight.

      Delete
  4. “My father was the warp to my mother’s weft.” How the two were intertwined, she unraveled without him. He helped her express her best self. If we all could but find someone who would encourage us to be our best selves.

    Acceptance of the whole person who was your mother must have been difficult. You expressed it so well here EC. It is powerfully written.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Marie Smith: Thank you. It was and is difficult. My mother made her choices, and I have choices open to me. Focussing on the dark doesn't help me.

      Delete
  5. Powerful story. When I started my classes I learned that alcoholism is a disease, one that there is no cure for, but one can go into remission. But, the person has to WANT to stop. My dad was an alcoholic. He never stopped even when he had his heart attack. I didn't see him in his latter years. Traumatic events had driven us apart, but I understand he did eventually quit drinking. If only he had done it sooner.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. mxtodis123: Most definitely a disease. I am so sorry that the pain my mother felt led her to refuse to give up alcohol.

      Delete
  6. such an amazing read,, thank you for sharing this,,beautifully written,

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. laurie: Thank you. It feels better to get it into the open, but it is still raw. And tender.

      Delete
  7. Powerful and sad. I love the phoenix design. Sorry for all the family sadness and how self-destructive your mom was.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Natalie Aguirre: Thank you so much. If only my mother could have risen like the phoenix.

      Delete
    2. What a lovely & powerful thought. If only we could all rise like the phoenix!!

      Delete
  8. In her earlier years she sounds like an amazing woman. Someone who gave and gave and gave and ended up empty, so sad she used alcohol to fill that void. I'm glad you've found solace in the good memories.
    Thank you for your kind words. I am on the mend and looking forward to making the rounds.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yolanda Renee: How lovely to see you in the blogosphere. I hope you continue the journey towards complete health. And thank you for your kind words.

      Delete
  9. It's so sad, i am sorry she had such despair and hurt you so much.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. messymimi: I am sorry too. And so very sorry that nothing I could do could life my mother's pain. Not one iota.

      Delete
  10. I find that family can be the ghosts that haunt you for a lifetime, no matter what else you achieve in life. Beautifully written and wrenching. I know many will share the mixed emotions right alongside you.
    Thank you for sharing this innermost core - a most sensitive spot.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. River Fairchild: Thank you, as always, for all your support. It is sensitive still, but I have learned that honesty serves me better than concealment. And yes, our family was certainly full of uncharted minefields which I suspect is true of many.

      Delete
  11. Warm hugs, EC. Your mother did lovely handwork. Sometimes it is a mystery why or how a person gets so far onto the wrong path. I think you have inherited her very best traits -- a gift eclipsed by her later slide, but still there under the debris.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. jenny_o: Thank you. I am not a fraction of the woman she was - in either direction. Something to continue to aspire to, and something to be very thankful for.

      Delete
  12. Sometimes life hands us mess of yarn that should not be unwoven.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. desk49: Indeed it does. And sometimes we DO need to keep working at it.

      Delete
  13. This is definitely a life unravelled. Thanks for sharing, Sue. Certainly a lot in there to ponder, which is the case with all your stories. Thank you sincerely.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Denise Covey: Several lives unravelled, and some new designs laid down...

      Delete
  14. A poignant portrait of the "unraveling" and similar in some ways to my own experiences with my mother. My heart goes out to you...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. e: Thank you. It was a truly dreadful ride wasn't it?

      Delete
    2. Yes. You show your own mettle in writing this. Perhaps some of the best of her lives on beyond the hurt, frustration and anger.

      Delete
    3. e: Thank you. Kind words indeed. The best of my mother was very, very good. And the worst appalling.

      Delete
  15. Dear me, your mother lost the love of her life and then onto the road of destruction and you were there to pick up the pieces so to speak...you were a good daughter to care about your mother under the circumstances :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Margaret-whiteangel: I wish I was. I did a lot for my mother, but I didn't do it with a good grace. I was frequently very, very angry at her, despite knowing just how much she hurt.

      Delete
  16. Such a happy beginning, and as you say, a tragic ending. It is heartbreaking when a person rely's so much on the existence of another they lose themselves when one dies. I can see that life is full of heartaches and uncertainties for you. It is good that you are learning healthy ways to cope, and move on with your own life. And to remember so good times too. Your mother had such beautiful creativity.

    Thanks for sharing your story with us Sue.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. dolorah: We were surprised (and horrified). It never occurred to any of us that she leant on my father so hard. It has been a very slow journey to a healthier attitude for me, with more than one regression.

      Delete
  17. Dear EC
    What a powerful and moving piece of writing. Celebrating the good but trying to come to terms with the bad. I am full of admiration and respect for you.
    Best wishes
    Ellie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ellie Foster: Thank you so much. I am more than a little ashamed of just how long it has taken me.

      Delete
  18. So beautifully articulated! and so heart-wrenching!

    Thank you for sharing this powerful story of a life unravelled, only it's never just one life but all the threads that are connected to it too. My respect for both your courage and writing skills.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nilanjana Bose: Thank you so much for your generous comment. Several lives were indeed unravelled. Painfully so.

      Delete
  19. What a sad, sad story of a life turned upside down by the death of your mother's touchstone. It is good that you were close enough to help out, but your words about her skilled manipulation of others made my heart sore when I realized what she had done to you. Well written and I'm glad I know about it, but I sure wish she had gotten help. Thank you for this piece.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. DJan: Thank you. I wish she had been ready to accept help too. So much.

      Delete
  20. Sue, you wrote about your mom with such honesty, both the good and the bad. Your mom’s dissent into despair and alcoholism is such a sad story but I do believe that we become the person we are because of and/or in spite of our parents. You show that you are such a loving and compassionate person in your writings so you took the better road.

    My dad has been gone 18 years now but for many years he was a quiet alcoholic. We had some resentment and shame but since he passed 18 years ago we have learned more about him and his childhood and the secrets and lies that families tell. He was a good man who suffered from depression due to abandonment and probably abuse. He sought solace and peace from his past through alcohol. He loved his family, was always good to us, but he had a very sad past that brought out his demons. I loved him very much despite them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe: Thank you so much for sharing some of your own difficulties. I suspect that my mother's past held some of the reasons, but we have no answers. And will never find them.

      Delete


  21. Catharsis is a wonderful word. It means opening a vein and purging one's soul.

    Wonderful piece. My father's alcoholism was under control by the time I was in high school, but it still defines my youth. I never forgave him of the times he spent in a barn and not in my life.

    Love, Mac

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Author R. Mac Wheeler: My mother always enjoyed a drink but after my father's death she dived headlong into the bottle (any bottle) and never emerged.
      I am so glad that your father conquered his demons - and fully understand your ongoing anger.

      Delete
  22. Replies
    1. Author R. Mac Wheeler: I am glad to see someone else with dyslexic fingers.

      Delete
  23. Wow. I felt like I was right there with you; you described the two sides of the coin so articulately. Parts brought me back to some of the struggles I had with my own parents. Your mother may not have been able to rise from the ashes, but you certainly are the Phoenix and are able to soar I. Your own right. Perhaps she knew that.

    Sending love and gentle hugs.
    Marty K

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Marty K; Thank you. So much. I am sad to learn that yet another of the people I have found here in the blogosphere knows the pain firsthand.

      Delete
  24. You are a strong(though it may not always feel like it to you), caring, sensitive woman. I'm proud to call you friend.
    Big Hug

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sandra Cox: Thank you so much. Family mythology says that I am weak and stupid. I was in my thirties before I realised they were wrong.

      Delete
    2. Very wrong indeed. You have so many wonderful qualities, not least among them being a bird whisperer:)

      Delete
  25. This was a very touching story! You've revealed a lot about the complex nature of life and death and love and how relationships are truly so complex that often they're only understood after they've ended. Well done!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. cleemckenzie: Thank you so much. Relationships are indeed a complicated (and convoluted) beast.

      Delete
  26. Hi EC - a heartfelt post ... we as receivers of these manipulations suffer so much - and understanding can be so so difficult. Brilliantly told post - and as Lee says you've told us so much and probably made many of us understand things we too have gone through, are going through. Thank you ... cheers Hilary

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hilary Melton-Butcher: We are not alone, and sometimes there is a lot of reassurance and comfort in realising that. And thank you too.

      Delete
    2. I was brought up to not talk about these sorts of things ... especially as it made it difficult for the other party ... or one just simply wouldn't or couldn't ... as things weren't discussed. But life teaches us much ... and I now talk and discuss all the time if I can. Parents aren't easy ... and that post-war period was difficult - certainly for my just out of teenage parents.

      As you say - we are not alone ... I'm glad you've written this up - with thoughts - Hilary

      Delete
    3. Hilary Melton-Butcher: Snap. It came under the heading of 'airing dirty laundry' and it wasn't done. At all. At home or abroad. Which may be part of the reason I found it so hard to put this post up. And felt exposed.
      I am a firm believer that things kept in the dark fester and grow and like you I talk about these things when I can.
      Hugs.

      Delete
    4. Hi EC - it's interesting reading this again ... as obviously it's your life ... but I'm in a similar position here - and it is so so difficult ...


      'The person is characteristically resourceful in finding ways to' manipulate the family here and those around her ... so unnecessary and unkind. Always wanting the last word and 'always right -not'.

      I as a cousin, with the family, will never know why she feels the need to fabricate a different way of living - she has everything going for her - yet the 'smallness' remains for her to inflict on others. It's good I've come back to re-read this ... it highlights aspects here ... that I am still putting together 8 months on ...

      Cheers Hilary

      Delete
    5. Hilary Melton-Butcher: You are right. It is and was very difficult. It has taken me a lot longer than 8 months to pull it together, and some parts I can only deal with by saying her choice. Not my choice.
      Heartfelt hugs.

      Delete
  27. I'm feeling heavy hearted, ultimately uplifted, and grateful for this read. Thank you for sharing, bringing us all home to you.
    It's wonderfully told.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rawknrobyn: I am so humbled and grateful for the generosity of the real writers I have found here.

      Delete
  28. This is a moving and poignant portrait of your mum. It fits the prompt perfectly. You paint the picture of a beautifully imperfect human being, but with such grace and love - where would we all be without those two essentials in our lives? Thank you, Elephant's Child. I enjoyed reading every word.

    ReplyDelete
  29. So much pain in this story. So much love too, and they intertwine seamlessly. I guess, that's family for you. A powerful and poignant story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Olga Godim: There was indeed pain. And love. And loss. And grief and anger. A complicated cauldron full. And yes, that is family. Or it was ours anyway.

      Delete
  30. I've grown to realize that much of our strength stems from our suffering. I've sensed that you are a very strong woman. This story is testimony of your strength, your perseverance and your love.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Myrna R.: Thank you so much. As I said to Sandra Cox I was renowned in the family as weak. I was in my thirties before I learned differently.

      Delete
  31. An addiction possesses it's victim and robs them and their loved ones. I've never drank because of witnessing alcoholics as a child . I'm sorry that you had to live so closely to the disease. And it is a disease.

    My grandfather was an alcoholic. As he lay dying, he begged for a drink.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ann Bennett: It is indeed a disease. A plague. I am sorry that you too saw it first hand.

      Delete
  32. Sure sounds like she did what needed to be done, and then found a way to do what needed to be done to feed her disease when she shut off. What we have to do is try to remember the good times, even if there are very few in the case of some family members. I've been down the manipulative road, they are great at fooling everyone, no matter what family says. A very heartfelt post indeed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pat Hatt: Thank you. Yes, this post did come from my heart - and left me feeling very vulnerable. I am so grateful for the kindness I have received.

      Delete
  33. A gripping tale of self destruction caused by a deep loss, a condition which can change a person's viewpoint on life. She must have felt betrayed or just lost without the person who was her rock, her source of stability and inspiration. She despaired until it became her normal. An excellent story showing how we can unravel. If this is based on truth, it shows how deeply our emotions affect our self-esteem and our behaviour.
    Well written, and topical. Liked this because it makes us feel one person's pain.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. D.G Hudson: This is non fiction. I am very glad to hear that I could convery some of the pain.

      Delete
  34. Addiction touches everyone in a family and the ones left behind usually suffer a lifetime of guilt and self-loathing. Unfortunately, we can't make anyone whole or healthy unless they participate in their own recovery.

    My father was an alcoholic and he fathered 4 children with my mother. Three of those four children have substance abuse issues. I always wondered growing up why my family was so different than other people's families. I wanted to know what normal was like, but remained clueless...I still feel clueless at times now.

    The shame and trauma that molds a child's view of the world and their young mind is maddening and so unfair. I always wondered why my father ever got married and had a family because he definitely should have stayed single and childless. Knowing the family tree from which he grew explains so much. He and his father were cut from the exact same cloth and I'm sure that type of thing goes back many generations. Dysfunction tends to breed dysfunction.

    My father died when he was 58...booze and cigarettes I imagine were the culprit for his relatively short life. I'm sure his years as a firefighter didn't help either. Long ago, I devised a little "game" I play with my mother. Whenever she goes off on a rant about what a s.o.b. my father was, I listen to what she has to say and then I make her say something nice about him because after all at some point they loved each other or at least that's what I allow myself to believe.

    I'm sorry for this lengthy response, but your heartfelt post has invoked so many emotions and memories for me. I wish I could gather all of them up and scatter them to the wind like they were crematorial remains. With that said, I really do feel your pain and appreciate your honesty and candor. Revealing such ugliness is never easy and more often than not it rips the scab off a never fully healed wound and we bleed all over again. The only comfort I find in such revelations comes from camaraderie we all share and the knowledge that we really aren't alone.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mildred Ratched: Your lengthy response is very, very welcome. Addiction not only touches it scars everyone in the family. And some days those scars fester and break open again as you know.
      Thank you so very much for responding from your heart.

      Delete
  35. my comment got lost when my computer suddenly died. I typed one on the other laptop, so I hope you got it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. River: Sorry no. This comment is the only one which landed.

      Delete
  36. Thank you for sharing such a personal tale. People are complicated, and we can love them while acknowledging the ugly parts of them. I could relate to a lot of this. My own mother was an alcoholic, and now that she's been gone for several years, I can look at and accept the good and the bad that goes along with who she was. Reading this was kind of cathartic for me, and I appreciate the bravery it took to post this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. L.G Keltner: Thank you. People are indeed complicated. I am a tad ashamed of just how long it has taken me to shift my focus off the ugliness.

      Delete
  37. Thanks for sharing your thoughts in the post. Lucky to have such a wonderful lady as your mom. When there is no one for us to support they go down. So bad to know that she goes with the alcohol.
    Beautiful lace work...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Weekend-Windup: Thank you. Mama was a very mixed bag. Simultaneously wonderful and appalling. And yes, her lace work was incredible.

      Delete
  38. Replies
    1. Bob Bushell: She did lovely work didn't she?

      Delete
  39. You took my breath and heart away as I read. Very similar journeys and paths but in the end, daughters can be warriors. Very well written!!

    Elsie

    ReplyDelete
  40. An honest and tragic tale of a women falling a victim of even more tragic circumstances. Well written.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Christopher Scott: Thank you. It was indeed a tragedy.

      Delete
  41. This really couldn't have been easy to write - but I'm glad that you did. I thought it was such an amazing read.

    My thanks and good thoughts to you.
    You are a special person.

    All the best Jan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lowcarb team member ~Jan: Thank you. You are right, it wasn't easy to live, to write about or post. I am so very grateful for people's kindness.

      Delete
  42. Your mother's needlework is exquisite, and I'm glad you have it as a good memory. Families can hurt us deeper than anyone else on earth, and while being able to forgive them may be the most difficult thing we face at times, it can also be the most healing. Sometimes the best "revenge" for a horrible childhood is to be a happy person in spite of it. It is not what happens to us that should define us, but how we learn and grow from it. I think that you have succeeded quite well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cindi Summerlin: Thank you. Still a work in progress. Always.

      Delete
  43. Oh Boy, or should I say Dear Lady, You certainly let the cat out of the bag. Have read twice . Loved it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Vest: Thank you. I didn't love living it - but have survived. And even thrived.

      Delete
  44. Some famous writer... I think it was Stephen King... said writing is easy. Just open a vein and write in blood. This is what it feels like you did with this piece. It's raw, heartfelt, and very touching. Not to mention beautifully written. Thank you for sharing.

    My father was a mean drunk, and my mother drank with him. Their only hobby. The Jekyll and Hyde changes in their personalities was hard to deal with, but with time, it's become easier to put things into perspective and to appreciate the good times. As have you.

    Well done!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Susan: Thank you. And yes it did feel as if blood was the ink at times. Too many of us are familiar with this scenario. Way too many.

      Delete
  45. Very well written. Such a bittersweet piece.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Carrie Ann Golden: Welcome and thank you. I am glad to have finally rediscovered some of the sweetness.

      Delete
  46. I love the way you use words to express yourself. I can share your sorrow at not being able to cut through the personality to get to the person she was. My father was a sweet man when not drinking. It's hard to look back and see so many chances missed to know him better. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog earlier.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. At Rivercrest Cottage: Welcome and thank you. It was (and is) a sadness for so many families.

      Delete
  47. It was sad to see this woman go from so independent and resourceful to using those abilities in a destructive way. The part of sending your dentures by cab to the dentist was funny. She was abusing alcohol to deal with her emotional problems I would surmise. It is very hard to have to cope with someone who is being self-destructive. You did a good job, the best you could. I have had similar things happen in my family.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Deborah Drucker: Thank you. My mother never did anything by halves, not the good or the bad. I was amazed that she sent her dentures for repair by taxi, and amazed that the dentist accepted them. They were repaired but never fitted properly again. The clicking used to send me bat-shit crazy.
      I am so sorry to learn that yet another person is all too familiar with this.

      Delete
  48. Thank you for sharing this EC, it couldn't have been easy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Denise inVA: It wasn't easy. And I still feel sadness, anger and guilt.

      Delete
  49. Sometimes I read a piece where the words go straight to my heart. Your deeply personal openness seems to have flung open windows and unlocked doors to allow sweet zephyrs to start freshening the air. It takes courage to share in a culture where we hide so much. I admire your honesty and talent.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kim: Inarticulate and very grateful thanks.

      Delete
    2. Inarticulate is not a word that could describe you, ever.

      Delete
    3. Kim: Your very generous and lovely comment DID reduce me to dithering.

      Delete
  50. I was in hospital for nine months too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Terry: I suspect it felt like a very long nine months. I know it did for my mother (and more selfishly for me, visiting her often twice daily).

      Delete
  51. It always amazes me of our potential that we often manage to destroy or crumble from the inside out. It's a battle that I believe most all of us fight in some form or other.
    You have a luscious weekend, my friend.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sandra Cox: Oh yes. I think all of us have been our own worst enenemy from time to time. I hope your weekend is full of wonder and joy.

      Delete
  52. You are a beautiful strong woman and I understand everything and feel for you my friend! When I wrote the post about the person who called me ugly, about my hair cut, that was from my father. Not going into alot of detail, I have went through alot of negativity and manipulation in my life. I feel better than ever now, no blame. So many of us go through so much. Give yourself a hug and know you are loved! You are an amazing person! Big Hugs!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Magic Love Crow: I am so sorry to hear that your father felt entitled to behave that way. And so pleased that you can (and are) standing tall and being your amazing creative self. Hugs gratefully received and returned with interest.

      Delete
  53. That is a hard tale to read of your mother and the plunge into self destruction and manipulation. I'm sorry went through it but you survived her and don't seem to be anything like that. It's sad your mother and Andrew's could not have met. They might gotten along fabulously but yikes, would have been scary!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Strayer: My mother didn't let anyone else share the limelight. It would have been good (in a sick sort of way) to see the confrontation though.

      Delete
  54. Dear EC, the following three sentences from your posting, struck me forcibly. (1) “Her world shrank to exclude any source of happiness or joy." That happened to Dad after he was turned down for the Seabees in World War II. That's when the drinking began and he seemed to forget that Mom loved him. He wanted his mother's love and she withheld it. A "perfect" son would serve his country!

    (2) "When my mother took the plunge into alcoholism she became a stranger to the truth." That happened to Dad also. It's not that he told untruths about his family as your mom did. It's that he could not recognize the truth about himself and about how much he was hurting his wife and his two children.

    (3) "I am now also remembering and celebrating the woman she was rather than the tragedy she became.” This aptly describe what happened for me after my mom died and Dad and I started to talk. I had been bitter and angry not only at him but at God for giving me such a father. But when I began to understand that he was--for many reasons, most of them having to do with his mother--a weak man, I began to realize that I, too, had things for which I needed forgiveness. When I was able to see him as a flawed human being--just as I, the ex-nun, was deeply flawed, then love flowed.

    Thank you for writing this posting. It must have been hard. I hope it was also freeing. Peace.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dee: Thank you. As an earlier commentator said, this story (and variations on the theme) is repeated in far too mamy families. And no, I am not perfect, and most certainly have faults for which I need forgiveness.
      This wasn't an easy post to write, but it needed writing and I do feel lighter. And so very grateful for the kindness and support I have found here.

      Delete
    2. Dear EC, I'm grateful to learn that you are feeling "lighter." That's how I've felt when I've shared on my blog things that I've struggled with and that have been painful for me.

      All of us are flawed; and we all need forgiveness. But that doesn't mean that we haven't been deeply hurt, and sometimes damaged, by the actions of others, especially our parents.

      It took me more years to forgive my mom for not leaving my father and keeping my brother and me safe, then it took for me to come to peace with my father's brokenness. And I mean years and therapy. You'll see from the memoir how broken I was. Like you, I bear the scars of a childhood, that, as you say, far too many of us know.

      Please be gracious to yourself. Love, Dee

      Delete
    3. Dee: Thank you. And please follow your own advice and be not only gracious but kind to yourself. As kind as you are to others.

      Delete
    4. Dear EC, I do so try to be kind to myself by listening to my body and taking care of myself. I didn't do that for most of my adult life and so ended up with many physical problems. Since I've begun my "body kindness," I am feeling better than I have in about 10 years. Wonderful. Peace.

      Delete
    5. Dee: I am very, very glad to hear it. Hugs.

      Delete
  55. I read your piece twice. The first reading, I read thoroughly all the way through. The second time around, I paid special attention to Joan's life before things began to unravel. One rarely meets people so connected, so creative as your mother, I think. To have shared a coffee and cigarettes with her would have been something.

    My dad's widow is probably rarely sober past 9am. I don't know this for sure as she both never picks up the phone when I ring, and never calls back. I hear from others how's she's faring. Mostly, it's not well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bea: She lived life to the full, and gave with both hands before my father died. After his death she died too. Kept breathing, but was dead emotionally. I am sorry to hear that your father's widow is entrenched on the same path. It rarely seems to end well.

      Delete
  56. Those years after your father died must have been so hard for you EC. I know how hard it is to take care of a stubborn parent. You told the tale beautifully and she sounds like such a strong character. What a wonderful woman she was. Thank you for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kalpanaa M: Thank you. Those years were hard (and often heartbreaking) for us all.

      Delete