Friday, October 23, 2009

I think family is probably the easiest and hardest word in the English language - in any language really, but I can only speak from my own perspective.

My mother died on October 9, 2009. Died. Born January 14, 1954 she lived a life of extreme hardship towards the latter half of her life. She was born in Maine, grew up in the New York-Brooklyn area and in her late 20's met my father. She eventually decided to leave college, the proceeded to have my sister, than me. When I was 2 years old she and my father decided that it would be better to move down to NC where his family was from - here's where it gets wonky. My mother moves down and my father says he's gonna come down later, but guess who never quite makes it? Unsurprisingly to some I never lived in the same house with my father again and saw him only about 3 times that I remember, all of those happening before I was 10.

While in NC my mother found out she was pregnant with my brother but had the unfortunate luck to be diagnosed with gestational onset diabetes. And wait for it people - this is where it get's better. After gaining wait from the diabetes, over the next few years the bad diagnoses just keep coming - severe osteoarthritis of the spine, heart failure, kidney problems, cataracts - every single one of them my mother had to deal with, while trying to raise three children on welfare and disability in a world that doesn't really welcome people who need that kind of help.

Imagine, living the first half of your life happy and healthy with direction and purpose and be condemned to spend the last part of it sick, ashamed, and alone. Because my mother was extremely alone - some of it due to her own wishes, because she was ashamed to be seen as she was in the end, and some of it due to the people and family who knew her before who never seemed to make an effort or care about her well being enough to be there in person. And later when we moved out of the house of my youth (and SO AGAINST MY WISHES) she gave in to my sisters demands and moved in with her, she got to go face to face with the ugliness of the human spirit.

As my siblings got older - they got uglier. Uglier in spirit I mean. Talking down to my mother and telling her what a burden she was, all of it designed to somehow try and make themselves feel better at the expense of her mental and emotional health. But what was even worse for me during this whole situation was the my mother would not let me help her. She wouldn't move in with me, she wouldn't move out to her own place. I understand that she was depressed but it was incredibly hurtful and frustrating to be put in the place of wanting to be my mother's protector or at least helper, and be denied.

In the end my sister was telling her that my mother had ruined her life and was a burden to her and that she HAD to leave. Even though our mother had been her best friend for the entirety of her life up until now, even though she made my mother move in with her with threats of never speaking to her again - all of it didn't matter. She was a burden now. A burden because my sister's new 'friends' were telling her that this was how other people lived their lives, how grown people lived their lives.

So in the end my mother died. In the hospital after being sedated and never waking up again. I can only take heart in the fact that my last words to her were how I loved her and how those hospital people better start treating her right or heads were gonna roll. But on my train ride down to NC on the 9th, it didn't make much of a difference. And when I got there I did not hug or touch either of my siblings, and even though that seems odd in abstract, in reality there was no other way for that reunion to go. Fights are always either happening or imminent with them and I'm gonna work to not have that negativity in my life.

That properly wasn't a proper eulogy to my mother. But before I can even start trying to craft one that brings to life what she meant to me, I had to be able to say what was stuck in my heart. And saying it does make it slightly better but I'm still not going to be happy any time soon and my life does suck. I loved my mother. She was one of the strongest and most resilient women I've ever known and I say thanks every day that she taught me to be a woman that would never give up and never accept less than the best.

Elissa Beth Wooster
~January 14, 1954 - October 9, 2009~
Loving Mother

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