Mother's Day Without Mom

Mom and I with my daughter, and my cousin and her daughter!

It seems strange not to be planning a gift and what we will do for my mom on Mother's Day.  She passed away almost 3 years ago, and there are still times I think, "I want to tell mom that", before realizing she's not here anymore.  Our relationship was never smooth, in fact it was pretty contentious, but she was a daily part of my life for my entire life, whether I wanted her to be or not.

My family

Growing up, we never quite jelled.  She wanted a daughter who wanted to sew and cook and shop and do girly things while I wanted to play baseball and hockey with the boys or play with my animals.  Our viewpoints as I grew older were always different. Mom was also one of those "hysterical" moms, the kind that cries and just knows that if you ride a horse you will be killed (the first time I rode I did get thrown...).  She was a "doom and gloom" type of mom: I would be sorry for this, I would be sorry for that, I was ruining my life, etc, etc.  Our fights and arguments were sometimes epic.  My mother spent most of my childhood and teen years worried about what I was doing, and voicing that worry constantly. If not for my dad and brother, Mike, who acted as buffers, I have no idea how bad the explosion would have been.

After I left home things were better because I was not constantly under her microscope. I lived quite far away in a time before personal computers and cell phones, so our contact was what we considered frequent then, a once or twice weekly phone call. After my father died, when I was only 25, we went right back to contentious.  According to mom, the only person deeply affected by dad's death was her. She just wallowed in her misery, and soon the only thing that made her happy was gambling and Las Vegas.  Mom became a compulsive gambler, but we were slow to realize it.

Nana with her grandbabies

She was a wonderful grandmother to my two children, and she moved to Dallas so she could be close to them.  My father left her extremely well provided for, but she was gambling that money away quickly.  She spent with no concern whatsoever. After we put her money in a trust she started getting cash from her credit cards.  She would run them up as high as $30,000.00 a year.  Yes, there were many difficult and emotional exchanges.

But we had our good times too. She was good to my children and they adored her; on extended family visits it was fun to play poker or yahtzee with her; she went on vacation with us and watched the kids. And hey, she was my mom.  I partially supported her for many years, and there was very little left when she passed.  She was usually mad at me for something, especially the last few years. I was told that I would be "sick and sorry" when she was gone, and that she would "haunt" me for being so mean to her (you know, doing things like making sure she wore her oxygen and having home health care checking on her.  Boy, did that piss her off!)  She died of lung disease, and as less and less oxygen made it to her brain, she became extremely obdurate. She weighed 85 pounds at 5'4", and still would not believe how sick she was.  "I'm fine!" she would shout at me (and my brother, and her grandchildren, and her doctor....).  At 80 pounds she went into the hospital for 2 weeks, with my brother and I at her side, and she finally went to sleep and didn't wake up.

My son and I with "Nana"

I miss you, mom. No one has threatened me with dire consequences, and I have yet to be haunted.  My husband became critically ill after mom died and we had to cancel her interment. As my husband recovered slowly, I tried to plan a time to do it.  I mean, I feel terrible that she is still here, and not with dad (her ashes). But a childhood friend said to me, "Tammy, don't worry about it.  As long as she is someplace where she can drive you crazy, she's happy".  That's about right!