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And then there’s my mother. First off, I love my mother; I always have and have no doubt that she loved me. Mom was just a bit difficult for me growing up.
Mom was the only girl in a family with three boys, two older and one younger. Even as a kid, I could tell she didn’t like nor trust her two older brothers, but loved her younger very much. She liked the older boys’ wives a lot and I think that’s why we had much of any relationship with them at all.
I never gave much thought to it, it was just what was until many years later and I was working sex crimes in the police department. Dealing with victims and reading a lot about rape and molestation of young kids, it hit me. I bet anything that Mom was sexually abused by her two older brothers. And knowing them and what kind of men they were only confirmed my suspicions. She adored her father, but had some deep seated resentment against her mother. Now, she would do anything for my grandmother, but she rarely had anything nice to say about her whether she was talking about the present or the past. This convinced me, based on my experience that she went to her mother for help and wasn’t believed. I saw that a lot in families where I investigated the sexual abuse of a girl. I talked to a lot of mothers who refused to accept that her sons would do such a thing. I’ve even had mothers tell me flat out that their daughters were liars. Looking back at my mother’s behaviors, I truly believe that happened to her.
Mom was an angry woman, never really satisfied with her life. She accused my Dad of infidelity when I was a junior in high school. She was pretty savage about it and made his and my life kind of miserable for some time. She got it in her head that Dad, who was about 56 at the time, of having an affair with a 22 year old Mexican woman that worked in the gin office. We had just moved to Arizona and the woman was already working there when Dad took over. Now I was only 16, but I knew this was baloney. The woman was living in sin (that may have been part of the problem) with a very good looking Mexican man and they had a couple of kids together. She was also quite attractive and no way could I be persuaded that she would be sexually attracted to my overweight, mid 50’s father. But Mom was convinced.
Later, I was telling my brother about it and he told me she did the same thing when he was about my age. Only this time it was the high school daughter of the man that owned the chicken hatchery where Dad worked. She apparently rode with him once on his route buying eggs and selling chickens and Mom went ballistic. But like with my situation, one day she just stopped talking about it and it was like it never happened.
She belittled Dad a lot about nearly everything. And she did it in front of other people way too much. I picked up on that at an early age. But Dad was devoted to her; I think because of the way he grew up, he thought any family was better than none at all. Maybe it was more than that, I know he didn’t like not having her around. Love is strange and I’m so glad. I needed Dad with me growing up.
Mom got addicted to prescription drugs right after I was born. Growing up, getting in trouble with her had much more to do with her mood than the deed I had done or not done. Mom really didn’t trust me; she was always quick to call me a liar. Because of that, too often I just lied since I knew I wouldn’t be believed anyway. Mom’s addiction cost them a fortune because insurance never paid for medications back then and doctors were always more than willing to write her a prescription just to get her out of their office. At the time they moved into a nursing home, her prescription bill was about $500 a month and they were getting less than a thousand in Social Security.
She viewed the world almost entirely on how it affected her. I remember after I left home I would call and she would tell me that Dad was sick. But instead of giving me much information about his condition, she would start telling me how hard his being sick was on her. When she told people about me as a kid, it always worked around to all the sacrifices she had to make because of me. Even as a kid that hurt. Mom didn’t have good social boundaries sometimes and she often said or did hurtful things. I don’t think she grasped what problems she caused with relationships. I recall when I was in the 6th grade, I told her that I noticed there were 7 or 8 pictures of my brother displayed in the house, but none of me. Of course, she got some pictures of me and put them out right away. I could tell she felt bad, but you had to point out things she did or said before she realized the effect it had. She always apologized, but never was able to see it on her own.
All that being said though, I could always count on Mom to defend me from anyone else. I learned early in school that I had to be careful what I told her about my teachers. If she thought for a moment that I was being treated unfairly, she was there and in the teacher’s face. No matter what I was doing or where I was working as a kid, Mom always made sure I had clean, ironed clothes and had a decent meal before I left and when I got home. One summer I worked on a spice farm in Arizona and we had 12 hour days, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. I would get home and be filthy and she would have a hot bath ready and when I got out of the tub, there would be a huge, hot meal. One time, I had a date after I got off work and she washed my pickup and cleaned out the inside while I was eating….. As close as I was to Dad, he would have never done anything like that.
But the trust thing was terrible, especially in high school. She usually believed I was doing something sinister when I went out with friends. And the best way for a kid to be labeled a “hoodlum” was to be my friend. And the rules were always fluid, again it wasn’t what I did, but what was going on with her. One time I could come home at 1 in the morning and she wouldn’t say a word, the next time I could be home at 10 p.m. and she would meet at the door screaming. But she would never give me a set curfew time even though I asked. She would just say try to be home at a decent time. The decent time just varied moment to moment.
Mother made things hard on herself with all her anger, especially in later years. When they were in the nursing home, they loved my Dad and barely tolerated her. The reason was my Dad was always appreciative of anything anyone did for him and Mom was never satisfied with what they did. I tried to talk to her, my brother tried to talk to her and it did no good. She always saw the whole world as adversarial, she against it and I have little doubt that’s because of what she was subjected to as a little girl. Rest in peace, Mom, you deserve it at last. I know you did the best you could with what you had. I love you.
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