September 16, 2000


I've been thinking about my mom lately. It's getting close to both her birthday and the day she died. We weren't really speaking when she died. It was another 8 years before I spoke to my sisters.

I left when I was 23. Things had started to get pretty bad, and I can look back now and realize, the woman was truly losing her mind. Since my step-dad owned his own business, it was 'decided' that I would quit my job and move back to Ohio from Michigan to be nothing more than a babysitter for my mom. Someone to just keep her entertained and out of his hair. I hated it on the farm in Ohio. I no longer had freedom, she'd made my dad trade in my sports car for a Chevy Blazer. I didn't have money to do anything on my own. I wondered to myself when I had turned 14 again. I'd been speaking on the phone to my ex-husband. We'd become the friends again that we had been when we first married. He called me one night to tell me that he was being transferred to Germany. No invitation to go, he just wanted me to know.

I remember the drive from Ohio to Michigan with my dad. I was driving in the Blazer. He spent the entire 4 hour trip yelling at me and making me cry. I wasn't doing enough to keep her out of his hair, I was fat, I didn't have a life, ya know, the usual. It was my brother's weekend to trade places with me for a few days and go down to Ohio. Someone had to be at the Michigan farm to feed the dog and the horses and goats. We got there on Thursday night. On Friday morning, it would be the last time I would see my brother in 2 years, and the last time I would ever lay eyes on my dad.

I called John on the phone, I told him I could be there Sunday if he wanted me to go to Germany with him. He did! I signed the little gold AmEx card with dad's account number and my name on it and went shopping. I pawned my tv and vcr for cash. I wrote long letters to mom, dad and my brother. I realized I had nothing left to do. I called the airlines and changed the ticket to Saturday night. I left money for parking since I had to leave the Blazer at the airport, and locked the keys in it and got on the plane. I sobbed as it took off, realizing that I would never see Lansing, Michigan again.

Flash forward 18 months. I've got a beautiful baby girl. I write a tentative letter to my parents just telling them where I am and enclosing a few pictures of my daughter. I write my phone number in the letter, never expecting to get a call. Flash forward a few weeks. The phone rings. It's dad. He asks me questions about WildChild, about John, about Germany. Then he lays the bomb. Mom has cancer. She's doing ok, but he wanted me to know. He tells me that he hasn't showed her the letter because he doesn't want to upset her just now. (She had been telling her friends that I ran away to Seattle and died of a drug overdose.) Just in case, I give him the information for the Red Cross to get a hold of me, it's the only way I can fly back to the States. Flash forward a few days. I go shopping with WildChild and return home to find my neighbor desperately trying to find me. My dad called to let her know that he'd called the red cross. We fly out of Frankfurt on WildChild's first birthday. I arrive in Columbus, Ohio hot, sweaty, tired, and in desperate need of a shower after being in JFK with no AC in July. My brother meets me at the airport and takes me to the hotel. We call dad and he says we should go straight to the hospital. Walking into the hospital has to be one of the most surreal experiences of my life.

We get to the hospital, and nobody is sure if I can take WildChild up to the ward with me. My brother's girlfriend offers to walk her around in the stroller while we go up. We reach the oncology ward floor and the elevator doors open. There sits my real father and both my sisters (1 older, 1 younger). I just look at them, and then walk to the desk and ask for my mom's room. The nurse takes me in. I look at her and realize she looks like shit. She tells me I'm fat. I decide to chalk it up to the morphine. She asks me about where I'm living, I tell her about Germany and WildChild. She asked where WildChild is and tells me that I can bring her onto the ward, no problems. I bring her up, and my sisters are nice enough to at least leave me alone in the room with mom while I hold the baby. She leans over and says "So Mare-a, who is your daddy?" (what, like she's going to answer???) I correct her gently "No mom, it's Mar-ra, and you know her daddy is John". I hold WildChild in my lap, terrified that she'll try and rip some tube out of mom if I let her too close. I go outside to have a smoke. I have my sisters close on my heels. It's not pretty, it's not pleasant. We recreate some of the better yelling matches from our childhood standing there in front of the hospital.

I leave and go to Alabama to see my in-laws. They haven't met WildChild yet and she's the first grandbaby, so it was kinda required. We all have a wonderful visit, and it's time for me to return to Germany. I call around and find out that my sister has my mother at her house, and I call there. I have a very emotional phone call, both of us realizing that it will be the last time we speak to each other. We say all the right things, and felt them as well.

A few months later, it's the night before Thanksgiving and we're having some people over the next day. I'm up late getting stuff ready, the phone rings. It's dad. Mom passed away peacefully. She was 49 years old. It was the last time I would ever hear from him again. For future reference, from now on when I talk about Dad, I'll speak of my real father...but those stories are best left for another day.

Goodnight Mom...I did the SuperSecretBunnyHopHandSignal for you today!

Posted by rowEn at 11:44 AM | Comments (2290)