Saturday, May 10, 2008

For All You Mothers

I have met some wonderful Mothers in this adventure in blogging. To all of you on this Mother's Day, Happy Mother's Day to you! And if you had mothers who treated you with love, respect, and kindness, this will be a day you probably love.

For those of us who had mother's who were our worst nightmares, and lived to tell the tale. I salute you in your bravery and your strong sense of survival. I urge you to write it out of your system. For there is nothing more empowering than to make your truth known and, in the telling, finally your own.

For those of you with mothers still living who tormented you with cruelty and neglect or alcoholism or worse. I can only say that mother's day just might be the hardest day you live through each year. Good luck on getting through another.

Death Turns Us All To Trash

The last funeral I went to was my teenaged cousin, Andy's. He was maybe the only member of my family I really believed loved me. He and his teenaged girlfriend asphyxiated themselves in his parents car in their garage after their senior prom. They had permission to go to several parties and weren't expected home until the wee hours, so nobody was shocked that they weren't home at seven A.M. when Andy's dad got up. By nine or ten, Uncle Bart, my cousins father was getting nervous, and went to the garage to see if the car was back. That's when he found them. They were naked and embracing and had that odd shade of color that carbon monoxide poisoning imparts to the corpse. Since it was an unusual death for two kids, autopsies were performed. She was several months pregnant. I think there were two reasons for these suicides: her parents were Catholic, his father was Jewish, and the kids had come to his parents (the more progressive parents) to ask for help acquiring birth control. These were the good old days when birth control was illegal. The irony was that Andy's father owned one of the chemical/pharmaceutical companies to make the first new contraceptive since the the condom. Andy asked for help and his progressive parents. They declined this help-- since the girls family would not approve, they couldn't help. And so it goes.

I had just returned from my year in Italy. And within a few short weeks of coming back this death happened. My parents had divorced while I was gone, so when I came home it was at my mother's request. My dad was living in Kansas City where his sister and her family lived. My mother had moved back to Salt Lake. I was asked to come to Kansas City to the funeral, but my mother refused.

I was horrified at the stupidity of the adults all the way around. My Aunt and Uncle were rich enough to keep the reason for the deaths out of the paper. So there was a lot of hypocrisy going on. Much pretending. I had wanted to stay in Italy, but due to my mother's request I came back. One of the many major mistakes in my life.

It was a nice funeral, but after the service as others where leaving the grave side, I ran back and threw myself on my cousins freshly filled in grave site. I started crying and couldn't stop for a couple of days. It was in that time of grief I decided to confront my father for his sexual abuse of me when I was a little girl.

We met at a down town bar. He was already there with a pitcher and his glass half empty. He was jovial, and weary at the same time. We were polite, until I make the statement he'd probably been dreading a long time: "Why did you have sex with me when I was a little girl?" He opened his mouth to say something, and I said, "I need help. I'm not doing so well. I want you to pay my psychiatric bills and help me with tuition."

"I didn't do anything to you, you didn't want. I never hurt you. You were a very seductive child."

"But I was barely seven."

"Did your mother set you up to this?"

"I've never told anyone. I kept your secret."

"You know what you are? You're a little gold digger. You just want money. This is blackmail. I'll never give you a penny." He starts backing his chair away from the table, but before he stands up, he leans forward and hisses in my face, "If you ever tell anyone about this, I'll have you locked up forever. And if you think mental hospitals are a romantic place to spend the rest of your life, think again. I can do it, too. Who do you think they'll believe? You, a young woman with a very checkered past, or me, a highly a respected psychologist., and your grandfather, a respected physician. If I were you, kiddo, I'd keep my mouth shut.

That was the last time I ever saw my dad.

I do not remember how I got back to my Aunt and Uncles house, but I was crying and soaking wet when I walked in the door. My Aunt who thought food would fix anything, started whipping up a meal out of the funeral leftovers. My Uncle called the remaining kids into action and they took me upstairs to get dry and changed. And finally, with all this accomplished, we sat around the kitchen table, and I told them the story of my life with Brian, her brother.

No one doubted me for a second. My Aunt said I needed the kind of therapy that rebirths you, re-parents you. If I would stay with them, as their child, she would pay for it all. The only condition was that I had to stay with them. I was through with conditions.

I went home to my mother's place. I told her my story and asked her why she didn't do anything to stop him. She arranged her face in what must have seemed to her like shock and horror, and said, "If I'd ever know what happened to you, I'd have killed the bastard." Then she ran from the room, up the stairs and slammed the door. It all sounded like bullshit to me.

I have never been to another funeral. Yes, I've had friends and family die, but it all happens without me. Not much of a slight to the dead, I imagine.

When asked, in my younger days, what I would want for a funeral, I'd say, "I want to be bagged in a hefty sack like the leaves and out in the garbage can for Tuesdays pick-up."

That was pretty much my stance on death, until I discovered my mother's plans while going through her papers, after I found out most of her brain had died from little strokes. There in her papers, I found her will with her signed contract with the University of Utah--she had donated her body to them for whatever they wanted. Jesus! What a wonderful thing to do with a corpse. Not only that, they write out the death certificate, and do pickup and delivery.

So now, I too, am a body donor. And nobody has to worry about how to fit me into a hefty bag.