“Last night I remembered an incident from my childhood and the memory made me cry.”
For #ThrowbackThursday, here’s a story written by my mom. I stole it from her diary… Um, are ghosts like a real thing to worry about? I think she’ll be cool with it. Maybe.
“It was about a time when I was about 8 or 9, and I was with my (older) brother, Steven. Some kids rode by us on their bikes and called him a retard and started making fun of him. I felt embarrassed and ashamed. But, I remember Steven saying to me, “Sissy, me different.” He looked so sad! And then, I felt so sad, because he was so sweet and innocent and he couldn’t be sheltered from the cruel ignorance of the outside world that could hurt him so much. I hate that!”
My mom was in school to be a teacher when I was a kid– it kind of looked like to me that she was always in school through my entire childhood… so, you can understand my confusion when my own college days ended. She started out her career teaching fourth graders, but her true passion– which I’ll bet had a big something to do with she had love for my Uncle Steve– drove my mama to get her masters degree in special education. The number of parents who reached out during her cancer battle, plus the many more who contacted us after her death, thanking her for impacting, and literally changing, how their kids did in school was endless. At the memorial service, we watched as parent after parent stepped up to the mic to share stories about how their child was failing– grade levels behind– in school. Their kids had rosters of previous teachers who’d either given up on them or couldn’t spare the extra time on students with learning differences. But then, my mom came into the equation. Many called her “an angel” who was amazingly patient and who understood there are many different ways children can learn. Her teaching was not only effective, but also, (and the kids would even admit it) fun. She had a special gift for helping her students to regain their confidence, and eventually, to also love learning.
Here’s another one:
“I feel angry at Brent (my dad/her husband) right now because when I called him he didn’t want to talk to me– he said he’d call me back due to last seconds of a football game. This makes me feel hurt knowing a football is more important than me to him. I hate him sometimes for allowing him to control my feelings– why do I let him do that?! But, I care that a football game is more important to him than me– it’s like, I’ll always be there but the football game won’t. It makes me think and want not to always be there– so there! Hah! Feelings: resentful, worried, angry, hurt, sad, and fear. Fear is usually behind anger, and the fear is that he doesn’t care and if he doesn’t care then our relationship won’t last.”
It lasted. My parents were married for three decades, and it was about a week after their 30th anniversary that my mom first went into the ER because of bad, bad, stomach cramps. Another week passed, and she was at a follow-up appointment when her primary care doctor first discovered the tumor on an ultrasound. A week later, my was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer, which is hopelessly terminal, on her 59th birthday. It was 28-years since she’d jotted down her anger over my dad watching that football game– she had no way of knowing, back then, not only would her marriage last, it would survive through so many imperfect life things. A couple months after her diagnosis, my dad left his job, (which ironically, he ended up being an exec at a sporting goods company. Maybe, all that OT watching football paid off… Mama sure did enjoy the heated seats in her Lexus.) He knew I needed help caregiving and also my mama just plain needed him. And he was there. My parents got into a habit during the last months of my mama’s life that was so heartwarming and sweet. They’d both end up waking up around 3 or 4am every night, my dad said, like clockwork. My mama would put her head on his shoulder and let him hold her, and then they’d talk, and they’d remember all the crazy stories from their lasting marriage. (Maybe even the one where my mom almost killed my dad bc he wouldn’t stop watching football.)