Did I ever tell you about my Mom?

My mother was not always a great mom.  She was an active and very drunk alcoholic until I was 21.   I never really knew her until I was an adult.  When she finally sobered up, she changed and it was like meeting a new person.

People loved my mom.  I continued to be surprised by how much.  I guess I had seen her be such a bitch for so long, that when people gushed about her, I was just sort of surprised.

And it’s not like she was just a bitch when she was drunk.  She apparently was … uh… let’s say high maintenance as a teenager and young adult.  She threw some fairly colossal fits.

She was beautiful when she was young.  Not in an ordinary way, although she was a nice looking woman.  It was the way she carried herself and her style.  And although the alcohol stole her physical beauty and replaced it with bags and wrinkles, she never stopped carrying herself with a certain style and attitude.

But more than any of that, my mother taught me several important things.  She taught me the importance of equality and tolerance.  She taught me that being smart was the most important thing I was.  She taught me that helping people was the gift you gave yourself.  She taught me that family was important.   And she never really told me those things directly.

But she taught them to me, despite being drunk and mean and not very reliable.  And when you think about that, that is pretty fucking impressive.

But the biggest and most important thing she taught me was that it’s possible to change.  It’s possible to pull yourself out of mire of misery and self destruction and make your life good again.  Because she did.  She sobered up and changed her life completely.  She did it after 20+ years of being at least some level of drunk 90% of the time.

She did it at the age of 60.

She became one of my best friends.  And I miss her so much.

Have I ever told you about my Mom?

My mom spent most of her life being a bitch.  When I was born, she was an alcoholic and my first memories of her are her being cruel to service people and rude to neighbors.

I hear stories of her teenage and young adulthood.  She was beautiful.  Mostly she had presence.  One of those women that everyone looks at.  ”They have style, they have flair” kind of thing.  Incredibly popular.  But she was high strung and often mean.  Those are the stories.

Growing up, I was embarrassed that everyone must hate my mother.

When I was 21 my mother sobered up.  I met a different person.  She wasn’t mean anymore…well, mostly not mean.    People gravitated to her.  I was astounded, because I thought of  her as a not particularly enjoyable human.

But I was wrong.  People loved Mom.  When she sobered up there wasn’t much trace left of the outer beauty, but all the style was still there.  And she still had that elusive allure of charm that made people want to know her.  Want to be her friend.

But occasionally, she still got these irrational dislikes of people.  People she didn’t trust.  To those people she was still not nice.

And she still had these ridiculous expectations.  Or so they seemed to me.  But now I wonder.  She walked out of doctor’s or dentist’s offices who kept her waiting for more than 10 minutes.  She walked out on a Nurse Practitioner she didn’t like.

She was quick to tell any service person who was an idiot, that they were indeed an idiot.  Although, I admit she did it with such subtlety that its unlikely that they fully realized they had been insulted, but I’m sure felt they were dealing with a bitch.

On the one hand, she irrationally felt the world should work as she expected it.  Computer failures and unexpected emergencies be damned.   On the other, she NEVER had to wait at the doctor or the dentist after walking out the first time.   You get what you demand.

All of this sounds like my  mother was horrible.  She wasn’t.

She NEVER once demanded, bitched or complained to me in the years I took care of her.

She was always appreciative and often sorry for what she perceived to be the burden of taking care of her.

She never ONCE interfered in my life or my choices.  (or my sister’s)

She lent me money many times in my 20s when I was both poor and stupid about money.  Never once said no, never once demanded it back, never once berated me about my money management.

I didn’t have an ideal mother growing up.  She was neglectful and often cruel.  She was, after all, an active alcoholic.  I forgave her.  And one day she sobered up and I met the different person, the one who was worth knowing.

She wasn’t perfect.  And I don’t think I will ever be able to see her the way all of her friends and even my friends do.  I feel like they are looking at a different reality than mine.

But, the person I knew, was worth knowing.  And perhaps we can only know the part of people that our own lens on reality allows.  Sometimes, you can watch and deduce from other people’s reactions that something is happening that you don’t see.  But you are not able to see it because your view is blinded by certain experiences, certain beliefs.

I miss her a lot.