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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Way I Understand It

Once upon a time, there was a young woman.  Aged 28, married to her second husband.  Pregnant with her fourth child.  She wasn't in love with her husband--maybe she never had been.

Twenty-eight.  28.  Looks younger when it's numbers, doesn't it?  Married to a man she didn't love.  Mother to 4 young children.  Money was tight.  Days were hard.  Was this what she had dreamed of when she was a girl?  Was this how the rest of her life would be?  Wasn't there something--ANYTHING--she could do?  Maybe....

Her solution--while not one you or I might choose--was to leave.  Dole out a couple of the children to relatives.  Leave the youngest two with her husband.  Get away!  Just get out!

She eventually married again.  A man who might not have been a knight in shining armor, but they had 47 years together.  And now--almost six years after his death--she still mourns him and misses him every day.  She had four more children.  Money was tight.  Days were hard.

That fourth child?  The one she gave birth to at age 28?  That was me.  By the time I was six months old, my mother was gone.  My father struggled to care for me and my half-brother, but it was too much for him.  After about a year and a half, my brother went to live with one aunt--I went to live with another.  For a time, he and I lived next door to each other.  I saw my mother occasionally when she would visit.  To her credit, she never tried to be my mother.  Either she didn't want to confuse me or she realized that ship had sailed.  I called her by her first name.

When I came home from my first day or two of first grade, I was telling my aunt all about a new friend I'd made.  I distinctly remember stopping mid-sentence and asking her why all my friends had a mother and I didn't.  She replied that I could call her mama if I wanted to.  So from that day forth, she became my mama.

However.  I never got over the longing for my--and I hesitate to use this term, but in this case it truly applies--real mother.  Why didn't she keep me?  Why didn't she stay?  What could a baby have done that would make her leave--and leave me behind?  Why didn't she want me?

I grew up.  I got married.  I had children of my own.  Four in five years.  Money was tight.  Days were hard.

I still wanted my mother.  The one who had given me life.  The one people told me I looked just like.  The one I didn't see for over 20 years.  The one who didn't call or write or contact me in any way.

Then my daughter died.  When we walked into the funeral home, the first flower arrangement I saw was from her.  The hard shell I had built around my heart to protect it from her rejection cracked a little.

Two months later, she came to visit my aunt.  I went to see her.  It seemed time for healing on both our parts.  I got out of the car.  She stood up.  We walked toward each other.  She gathered me in her arms and gave me a mother's hug.  One I'm not sure I'd ever experienced before.  That crack in my shell grew wider.

In the ensuing four years, we've visited, phoned, and written.  So much healing has taken place.  I know now that leaving was not easy for her.  Staying away from her children was not easy, but what she felt she needed to do--for us.  If she could change things, she would.  She loves me.  I know she does.  And I love her.  My resentment and hurt are gone.  She didn't reject me.  Not once.  She did what she thought she needed to do--for me.  What was best for me was the worst thing for her.  But she did it.  Because that's what mothers do when they love their children.

Today she turns 81.  I want to wish her a very happy birthday and give her what I hope will be a welcome gift.  Later, I will phone her and when she answers, I will simply say "Happy birthday, Mom".


Linking to Tuesdays Unwrapped at Chatting at the Sky

12 comments:

Sweet Tea said...

What a story of love, forgiveness, and ultimately acceptance. Yours has been a bumpy road, but obviously "you have arrived". Happy Birthday to your Mom!!

I must ask, "what is your relationship with the aunt who raised you?", or is that for another post?!

All of these life experiences have made you the great woman you are today. Embrace them all, GF!!

♥Georgie♥ said...

I am sitting here bawling like a baby...
I♥You and a Happy Birthday to your Mom...

Gramee said...

oh wow! i am so touched, to tears.

I am not sure I would be as forgiving as you.
You are a wonderful person..

thanks for the (HIS)story!.

Eric and Rozanne said...

This post is a perfect example of giving other people the benefit of the doubt. What a forgiving person you are, and I admire that so much.

Connie said...

I am so happy you have found common ground where the healing could begin. Yes, you are a very forgiving woman and I admire that. You are so far ahead of me in the game of life I just have to marvel. Thanks for being you and sharing such a personal journey.

Love ya,
{{{{HUGS}}}}
Connie

Quon said...

That was a beautiful story Beverly. I cried a little just because I can totally relate to it. At the age of eight my parents divorced and my mother left. I was so mad at her for so long that I refused to talk to her or see her. My father raised me and my three little brothers and remarried a couple of times but I never had that mother daughter connection that all daughters need. Later in life I also got married and had children of my own only to relize that what my mother did was not an easy thing for her to do nor was it in her best intrest but it was in the best intrest of me and my three little brothers. After years and years we are finally reconnecting and finally building that mother daughter relationship that I have always longed for. She is now moving here in December to be closer to me and my family. I am so thankful for your story it really makes what I am going through that much more special. thank you again for sharing.

Love Quondaila Bellard

deb said...

truly remarkable.
bless you for taking the high road in this,
and for choosing to share with such grace.

you made a difference to my story.

Josh 'n Katie said...

this is beautiful. and heart breaking. and wonderfully real. thank you for sharing.

Alita- Da Mainiacs said...

Exquisite.

You moved me to tears. We all have our crosses to bear. Days are hard, as you said. I don't know you, but I'm proud of you. You should be very proud of yourself, too. Life is too short for regrets.

Lauren said...

Did you gather up enough courage? :)

Love you!

Mrs. Sojourner said...

What an amazing story. Thanks for sharing!

Kim said...

Wow, what a day I picked to come over and visit. What a powerful story. I give you a lot of credit, not only for forgiving her, but deciding to be a decent wife and mom regardless of the loss you felt. God bless.

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