Sometimes as we go through life, we are fortunate enough to learn important lessons along the way. Sometimes, they are lessons learned, sadly, too late.
Such is my life. Lessons I have learned have been both harsh, and illuminating.
The most important lesson I learned was how to love my mother.
My mother will be the first to tell anyone that she was NOT the best mother. She had a hard life, in and out of boarding schools, abused at a vulnerable age by her step father, and then abandoned by her mother when she refused to face the truth about the man she was married to, my mother had to fend for herself- something she was not good at.
Married young to my father, the both of them clueless about parenting, she went through life without the necessary skills required for the most basic of parenting. Not good at coping with stress, she took out her anger and feelings of helplessness on her children. My sister and I being the most likely targets. She is 14 years older than I, and when I was eight- she got married and left, never to return. I remember crying at her wedding, because I knew with her gone, it would be so much worse for me...
Often, I was jealous. Mom had these 'adopted' children all over the neighborhood who came to her for advice and love. I felt like I was really the adopted one. I was embarrased to have my friends over, and one time I lost a friend due to my mother and her behavior. Couldn't these other 'children' see it? Of course not, because she was a completely different person with them than she was with me.
Life in our home was hard, it was filled with anger, and frustration. My father left when I was 11 and my little brother was only five. He said that my brother's disability was too hard to handle. Then he married a woman with seven children...
My mother fell completely apart after he left. As if things weren't bad before he left, now there was no buffer between my mother and her children.
Jamey got the best of mom. For some reason, his disability brought out the best in her. She fought for him to receive a good education, and learned everything she could about Autism. Her energy was expended in a positive way.
I wasn't exactly the perfect teenager, that's certain. I was wayward, and defiant. After I got big enough, I would fight back (never physically), I certainly was not going to just sit back and take it anymore.
I remember being terrified of my mother, even at age 16 she could get me to cower in a corner...
I left home when I was 16, worked full time outside of the home, and only went back home at age 18 for a place to keep my stuff.
Life was hard between my mother and I, and I blamed her for a lot of things. Certainly the physical and mental abuse was something we could never get over, and I resigned myself to the fact that we would never have a relationship beyond civility.
Then, I got sober. I got married shortly after, and got pregnant right away. Life took on a new perspective, and I realized I was going to be a mother, but I had no idea how to be one. I only knew I didn't want to be like my mother was. I took parenting classes, and went back to church.
But something was missing. It was my mother.
Long story short?
My Father in Heaven changed my heart, and He made it possible for me to forgive my mother over time, and to be able to reforge a relationship with her that at this time I wouldn't trade for anything in the world.
Mom also learned some new things, how to accept responsibility, to not try and guilt me into anything, and how to heal some of her own wounds.
This is, needless to say, the highly abridged version of our relationship. Just to set the tone for my experience this past week.
Mom needed to have gallbladder surgery, and at age 76, she isn't the spring chicken she used to be. So I made arrangments to go and be with her to help her the Tuesday she went in. I was going to leave Wednesday, and come home. My daughter decided to stay with her to help her.
As I spent time there, I realized something profound. My mother is getting old.
She isn't going to be around forever, and there will come a time when I will not have her in my life anymore.
This scared me to death. I stayed until Thursday, then went home, crying all the way. Then I went back Saturday morning, and came home Monday, crying some more. I didn't want to leave her. She lives about 2 1/2 hours away, and with the ranch here, I am pretty tied down.
I am so glad I had the time to spend with her, and I can't wait to see her again.
While I was there, I met someone pretty special. His name is Teddy, and here is his story, as written by my mother.
Bears on a shelf in the "Teddy Bear Room"
Where am I? The last thing I remember, I was sitting on a pretty pink bed, playing with my little girl. Then things changed fast. People came in the middle of the night, and I heard the words, "very sick, hospital" and my little girl's mommy was crying.
Several days go by, there is a big black car outside taking my girl's mommy and daddy away. The house is very quiet for a long time, I have no one to hold me or love me. The next thing I know I'm in a big box with my friends. We all used to play with my litle girl. Now I am in this strange place with all kinds of different toys, but my friends are gone.
I hear words like, "Sell all the toys, and everything else." So I wait to see what selling us meant.
A little boy says he wants to buy a train, laughing, he went away with his train. A little girl says she wants a doll, her mommy bought it for her and she was laughing.
Now I understand! We were here to make people happy! So I sat up straight, as straight as my bent legs could be, and I waited, and I waited. All around me toys weregoing home to their new families, except for me.
The next thing I knew, I was at the bottom of the pile of toys, standing on my head! No one could buy me while I was upside down, they couldn't see how cute I was!
Then I felt something pulling on my leg, I heard, "Hello Teddy, what are you doing under all these toys?"
I got a big hug, and my new mistress said, "I have never had a teddy bear before. Now I do, because you are going home with me.
Now the lady squeezed me again, then she laughed! And I said to myself, I like this, I could get used to this loving very easily.
We got into something called a car, and she said, "You are going to be my co-pilot now, and we can be with each other all the time."
I have been her friend, and her companion, and get hugs just about every day, and I have a permanent place on her bed. And the best part is I am giving love to a lonely woman, cause my new mistress is 76 years young!
I have been all over the place with her, for 25 years! I have loads of new friends, here are some pictures of them, they have their very own room, called the Teddy Bear room. But I get to sleep with mommy! So, I heard about this B.t. Bear Esquire, and I thought I'd share some pictures with him. There are several 'not-a-bears' who live here too, but our bearyness is rubbing off on them, I can tell!
If you look close, you will see how my legs are just perfectly porportioned so as to sit on my mommy's hip and hug her. Perfect!
One of the beary nice shelves.
Mr. Genteel Bear.