Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!! By Wendy Day

Posted on May 13, 2018 by

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Born in 1930, my Mom grew up an only child to a Widow, therefore she was a latchkey kid in the 1940s when it was almost unheard of to be raised in a single parent household. My Grandmother was an entrepreneur—she owned a retail store so my Mom was home alone daily until about 9pm every night.

Because of her loneliness, she vowed to always be home for her kids. But she didn’t marry a man with enough hustle to support the family on one salary, so we were poor. Lower middle class really. I didn’t appreciate my Mom always being home. My friends’ parents all worked and I was pretty independent so having her at home constantly was more of an annoyance than anything.

When I was 12, my Dad went out for gas one night and never came home. He had sneakily moved his belongings out when we were at the beach for that weekend. We came home from the beach on Sunday night, went for ice cream, and after dropping us back off at home, he went to get gas. To this day, I can not stomach a coward.

My Mom didn’t tell us til the next night that our Dad has left. I guess she though we wouldn’t notice him missing. I didn’t, even though I was daddy’s little girl at the time. I don’t remember much about him leaving other than it devastated my Mom. She cried for months. I hated him for that, but mostly for being a coward. Twenty years later, he did the same cowardly move to his new wife and her daughter. What a piece of shit he was.

But out of that devastation, I watched my Mom grow strong and independent. She went from a stay at home Mom with no job qualifications to a woman who studied accounting at night at a local high school and took care of children and old people during the day for our neighbors for cash. She became self-sufficient and she supported my sister and I, as best she could. We were extremely poor at this point in time but we never went to bed hungry.

My Mom worked as a book keeper until she retired in her mid-70s. When I started my own business in 1992, she got me through many a financial hard time. And even though I always paid her back (and some!), she was always there to help me out without asking for anything in return. She taught me how to give unconditionally. There were times when she lent me more money in a month than she was making in that month. That’s a hell of a sacrifice for your kid. And she never complained.

When I tried to buy her a car, she fought me. She used to fight me to pay a dinner bill in a restaurant. So independent. So headstrong. I worried that my Mom didn’t have much success or enjoyment in life. She didn’t require much to be happy. She really only enjoyed watching TV: the news, Dancing With The Stars, ice skating coverage on TV, and the sound of the TV on from 6am til 11:30pm. She had her routine and never veered from it.

In 2006, my sister and I got to help my Mom fulfill her dream of moving to the NJ beach from Philadelphia. We helped clean out the house where she grew up and had spent her whole life, and followed the moving van to a beach house half the size. She was super happy.

In 2013, she could no longer take care of herself and had to move to assisted living. She refused to come live with either of her kids. It was the hardest conversation I ever had with her. She could no long see well enough to drive and her reactions were super slow. She was an accident waiting to happen and we took her car away from her first, in 2012. That sucked for all of us. Then, by 2013, she needed to have people care for her, which she hated. Within 9 months, she passed away.

She didn’t suffer at the end, although she hated the Assisted Living facility. It was a great place, it was just a symbol of her loss of independence; plus she hated living around other people. She lacked social comfort or social skills, and resented being around people she cared nothing about.

I am fortunate that I got to spend a lot of time with her at the end of her life. From 2011 to 2014, she fell a few times and I’d fly up to NJ from Atlanta and stay with her while she healed. It became extremely taxing on me and completely draining, but I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

She died of pneumonia. She got a really bad cold in March of 2014 while I was at SXSW. She called me disoriented at 4am one night, and I saw she was deteriorating fast. I saw her health and mind decline a bit over a 4 month period. That last week she was hospitalized for pneumonia and on April 7, a few hours before I was to see her in the hospital, she passed away. I was thankful I didn’t have to see her sick and dying. She knew that. I didn’t feel I had missed anything because I had just been to see her the week prior.

My Mom was strong and independent and she tolerated a lot of unhappiness from my Dad (he died in 2000, miserable and alone). After he left us, she never dated another man. She was 44 then, still young, pretty, and vibrant. But she believed couples mated for life and she had lost her mate—a sentiment I never shared. She taught us not to depend on a man, ever. She taught us to be good and caring people. She taught us to help others, to avoid hurting or being hurt, and to be comfortable alone.

She was harder on my sister than she was on me. Truthfully, I learned to play the game. If I did whatever she wanted, she’d be easy to get along with. I preferred the path of least resistance with her. I genuinely loved her so it was easy to keep her happy.

My friend Kirk lost his Mom this week. It brought up so many memories of my Mom and her death 4 years ago. I’ve handled it well. I thought her death would completely devastate and cripple me. It has done neither. And I’m thankful because she would NOT have tolerated that. LoL. Mostly I’m thankful she didn’t suffer more than she did because that I could not have tolerated.

It’s Mother’s Day today and I can’t help but think about her. I guess this is my little tribute to her. I love you Mom!! Thanks for everything. You were the best Mom ever. Happy Mother’s Day, Miss.

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