I’m adding this note here at the top, but I’m almost done with this blog… I wanted to apologize in advance, as I began writing this about my mom’s breast cancer, but it slowly turned into a moment with my dad that has been buried in my heart for ages.. so, if I cant finish about my mom, I’ll come back later this evening and add another posting to finish that part up for you..
while I was in my first year old that first little private school, as we were coming into summer break, I discovered that my mom had breast cancer.. apparently she had known about it for a couple of months, but she felt that I was too young to know this..
I found out by accident. I over heard her on the phone with my oldest brother, a little less than a week before her surgery was scheduled. we have a ton of cancer in our family, and we’ve lost lots of people over it, no one I’ve ever been close too, but I knew that cancer in my family usually meant tragedy was about to hit.
when I heard her say it on the phone, she was in the kitchen, and I was upstairs in my bedroom.. my family has always joked that I can hear conversations from miles away, but still, when they want to keep secrets from me, they’re not very careful!
I came running down the stairs like a lightening bolt, and came to a screeching halt in the kitchen, eyes wide, mouth hanging open, and my mom looked at me, and said to my brother, “looks like I have to go…” and they hung up.
she sat me down and said that yes, her doctors had indeed found a fairly good sized lump in her left breast, and that she had options to go through different treatments or remove one of the breast and have an implant inserted, but she had no desire to go through treatments, so she opted for the removal.
my eyes were dumping tears.. “why didn’t you tell me?”
“you didn’t need to know, its not a big deal.”
I went back to my room, assuming the worst. how could she not tell me? what if she dies? what am I going to do without my mommy? I was freaking out, and really hurt that no one told me, that I was the last to know, just like when we moved.. I hated being the youngest in our family, because everyone left me out.. my mom being sick was huge, that’s something you tell your WHOLE family, not just the ones you feel like telling.
I think I’ve mistakenly led you to believe that my mom was a horribly abusive monster. all of us kids, as well as her, have openly admitted that she was a terrible mom in those days.. apparently she was even worse when I was little, and I just wasn’t aware. my mom is a very complex woman, and knows she made some terrible mistakes when we were all young. When my mom was young (she was born in 1944, and the oldest of 7 kids), her mom favored her other children, and made it known to my mom that she didn’t like her. my mom was close to her dad however, but still felt the sting of the constant rejection from her own mother.
my mom grew up and joined the army after high school graduation.. that, I guess, was just becoming a “thing” back then, as it was still the early 60’s when she joined. well, she got pregnant out of wedlock from a one night stand, and that kind of sealed the deal between her and her mom, that they would never be close..
my mom gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, and towards the end of her stint in the military, she met a man whom she ended up marrying.
I think they were married for about 15-17 years, I don’t know exactly how long.. they ended up having another boy, and 2 girls… through-out the entire course of their marriage, this guy beat the bloody snot out of my mom on a daily basis.. back then in those days, domestic violence wasn’t spoken about.. sort of a “don’t ask, don’t tell” thing.. I’ve heard ugly stories from my sisters and brothers, and a little from my mom about the things that he did to her.. putting her head through a wall because dinner was late, throwing her down the stairway because he heard that she was talking to a male coworker for longer than he thought she should have been, raping her repeatedly if she tried to deny him sex, and so much more, but I think I’d rather stop there.. he also cheated on her a lot, one of the women he cheated on her with, was her own sister, but that’s another story I’ll save for much later..
He was a monster above monsters.. my mom will say today “but he loved his kids, and never laid a hand on them”. I don’t care, he’s an evil monster, period.
I don’t know exactly how she got away from him, but she divorced him, and got custody of the kids. right before the divorce was finalized, she met a guy and they dated for a few months, and BOOM, she was preggers with muah! this lovely species of man was a major drug addict and lazy piece of crap, and when he found out mom was pregnant with me, he left her, and went back to his wife and sons. HA! the men she picks, seriously!
I don’t know if she knew he was an addict, I would find it hard to believe if she did know, but back then my mom was weak willed and didn’t know how to stand up for herself.. its 2017, and she’s almost 73 years old, and she barely knows how to do so now.. my mom has never smoked even 1 cigarette, or one hit of weed, let alone any other drug in her entire life.. I believe this because her brothers and sisters, and old schoolmates have confirmed this.. but as a kid, she wasn’t a goody goody, she just did her own thing, and didn’t see the point in any of that.. I’ve seen her drunk one time, and that was after working 8 12 hour shifts straight, and then having 2 glasses of wine, and really I think her utter exhaustion was just exacerbated by a little bit of alcohol.
so she had me, and at that point was a single, full time working mother of 5 kids for 4 and a half years.. she was tired, and at her breaking point and had no one to help her, so she made poor choices about how to handle stressful situations at home. I think I’ve heard somewhere that back then, it wasn’t uncommon for an abused wife to become abusive after leaving that marriage. obviously it wasn’t ok, but that’s what it was.
however, having said all of this, my mom and I were extremely close. I looked up to my mom as a strong woman, who could survive anything, and as I came into adulthood, I prayed that I could be like her (minus the abuse!), that I could be strong and not let anything knock me to the ground. of course, she lacked the ability to show any emotion, and it was a very long time before I would understand why.
mom met my step dad, and he seemed great, but after they married, he turned into an uber asshole too, minus the angry fists. he was always in a deep depression, and would sometimes go weeks without speaking to anyone. I think I remember getting one hug from him.. I was 11 and it was about a year before we made the big move to the cabin.. the hug was out of the blue, but I remember it like it was yesterday.. (sorry, I know I’m getting off track) he had a burn pile going down by the waters edge, and he was sitting on a stool, with a water hose beside him, monitoring the flames to make sure it didn’t get out of control. I came down to watch the fire with him, and poke at it with a stick, because that was a really important job. I was wearing a cabbage patch doll t-shirt (remember when I said mom always bought me geeky clothes?) Dad sat on his stool in total silence, and I stood beside him trying to be quiet because it seemed that whenever I was making too much noise (typical noise for a kid), he seemed to get annoyed with me. Dad looked over at me and said “hey, can I have a hug?”
I was so excited to hug my dad.. how weird and sad is that? I should have been annoyed with him.. I should have been a normal kid with a normal family where hugs apart of every day life.. It should have been an alternate reality where I was rolling my eyes and saying “god dad, really?! ugh!” and given him some snotty half hug just to get it over with. that’s what happens in normal families right…? I don’t know, because we’ve never been a normal family..
nope.. my heart nearly jumped out of my chest and I could barely contain my giddy smile and excitement to actually get a hug from the man that I believed was my daddy (yep, I didn’t find out for a couple years after this that he wasn’t my dad).
I dropped my super important fire poking stick, and threw my arms around my dads neck and rested my head on his shoulder.. he smelled like Old Spice after shave and deodorant, that musky scent of burning tree branches and brush from around the property, and sweat. for the first and probably the only time in my entire life, I felt like my daddy really did love me.. it was an awkward hug, but it lasted what felt like forever, and I didn’t want it to end. I wanted him to hug me like that forever, and never let go. Just sitting here writing this for you, I cant wipe the tears away fast enough, and I can barely see my laptop screen.. that 5 minutes between my dad and I was barely anything to write home about, but for me at that moment, it was like winning the lottery.. I wasn’t ready for it to be over, I wasn’t ready to let go, but before I knew it, he dropped his arms.. he was done being my daddy.. it was like he accidently let me in, and had to quickly shut the door before I saw too much. his voice was thick and kind of gruff “go inside, your mom needs you”.. I stared at his face for a moment, totally and utterly confused about what just happened and why he wasn’t being nice anymore. was it me? did I do something wrong? I must have hugged him too long.. or maybe I shouldn’t have hugged him? he didn’t really want a hug, he was probably joking and I fell for it. (when dad wasn’t in his silence, he was cracking dry jokes that sometimes had unkind hidden meanings) as I just stood there, he turned and looked at me, and I booked it across the yard and back up to the house..
I burst through the front door, and ran to moms room.. I threw my arms around her, and she laughed, “what do you want..?” she was in the middle of making the bed, but I plopped down on top of the sheets anyway, and launched into the story of what just happened with dad.. the way I told her about it; trying to sit still but unable to stop bouncing around on my butt on the bed because I could barely contain my excitement, and talking so fast, she had to keep telling me to slow down and repeat what I said, you would have thought I had just won a prestigious award, or my favorite rock star, or won $1,000,000.00.
mom even smiled and seemed to be sharing in my happiness.. it was just a hug… but it was worth more to me than anything else the world had to offer..
dad hasn’t hugged me since.. we’ve never shared another moment since then. whenever I think about that moment, I have to push in back down, or I know I’ll lose it. I do every time.
I’m going to wrap this up for now, I was going to add more but I need to take a break..
thanks for reading 🙂