Archive for December, 2013

In memory of what’s-her-face

Posted: December 23, 2013 in Philosophy
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9 years ago today my mom died…I had an interesting conversation with Janine last night about how I have generic, unspecific memories about my mom when she was alive, but not much that I can really put a finger on.

For instance, I remember what my mom looked like–I can see it a lot in pictures of my kids, that there is a strong resemblance there (more for Zak than for Zoe, but there was a time when Zoe very much reminded me of my mom–specifically, her smile).  But if she were in a room with me and I couldn’t see her, could only hear her talk, I’m not sure that I’d recognize her voice.  I don’t really remember what she sounded like.  The one exception to that is her whistle–when we were kids, that was how we knew it was time to come home for dinner, and I’m pretty sure you could hear her whistle from a mile away.  I would know that whistle anywhere.

As my brother always says, memory is a funny thing.  I remember doing a lot of things and being a lot of places with my mom–at least, I remember that I did do a lot of things and go a lot of places with her.  There was a place in a not-so-great area of Cleveland that she and I went frequently toward the end of her life, a small coffee shop.  I’m not talking Starbucks or Caribou–this wasn’t a place you’d necessarily like to spend an afternoon, or perhaps just not somewhere you’d go if you didn’t already know the people there, like a hole-in-the-wall bar with questionable clientele.  But, they had coffee–basic, simple, delicious coffee–no lattes, cappuccinos or mochas.  And they had lottery tickets, and there was smoking (yes, before Ohio nixed the whole smoking indoors thing).  My mom and I would sit there for what felt like hours, drinking coffee, scratching lottery tickets, and talking.  About everything, and so about nothing specific.  I know we did that–but I don’t really remember ever doing that other than the fact that I know I did.

I remember a couple of very specific times with her, two come out in my mind right now…they’re not the sort of memories that I cherish in a traditional sense, but am thankful for nonetheless.  One was a big fight she and I had one day before school.  She was in one of her “soma comas,” a recurring four-day period where she’d take some prescription meds, forgot she took them, then take more.  It was a constant cycle my brother and I got to live through, and we did exactly that.  Anyway, she was a bit under the weather, and I screamed at her for not being able to give us a ride to school.  We lived in Cleveland but went to school in Parma, which was not something the school board knew about, or could know about, otherwise we’d no longer be able to go to Parma Schools…so we had to have a ride.  Public transportation was an option but we would be late if we went that route.  She eventually agreed to drive us, which probably wasn’t the safest option (it was a terrifying, swervy ride to school), but we did arrive safely.  So, while it’s not a great memory, that argument brought us closer together in a way, and there’s no one else on the planet I could ever, or would ever, be comfortable enough with to be able to unload verbally the way I did that morning.  That not-so-great memory shows me how close she and I were.

Another memory I term “my first drug deal.”  Let me unpack that, though–my mom hurt her back in 1995, but because of whatever worker’s compensation doctors she had to deal with, it was never bad enough to get disability–even though she had chronic back pain for the remainder of her life, had to take pain meds daily, and couldn’t get any normal job because everything requires lifting (even my job, where I sit at a desk for most of the day).  In fact, I take no issue saying that the tray of frozen chicken (kind of funny, in a way) that she kept from falling on a coworker of hers is what started the unfortunate downward spiral that was the last 9 years of her life.  Anywho, because of the difficulty getting jobs due to lifting requirements, and keeping them due to regular soma comas, she had to do what she had to in order to keep us fed, clothed, and sheltered.  And, it just so happened she had access to hefty pain meds after her initial infliction and two back surgeries, as well as the questionable clientele, that helped her make ends meet.  At some point she had her license revoked, another story for another day, but needless to say I drove her around quite a bit–and one such occasion was to meet said questionable clientele and vend said pain meds.  It was far from my mom’s crown achievement…but, I don’t blame her…I would do the same for my kids if I had to.  That not-so-great memory shows me what she’d do to provide for her kids.

I miss my mom a great deal–the good times, and in some ways the bad.  She may not have made the best choices, but one thing was always clear with her–that her kids were more important to her than anything else, and that there was nothing she wouldn’t do to make sure we were safe.   And while I don’t remember her all that well, I will never, ever forget her.

Love you mom, miss you.

Be well and stay tuned.