During my childhood, it got to the point where my sweet relationship with my mother was broken due to her bad choices. I never stopped loving her, but, unfortunately, things with us were never again the same. She died 22 years ago, shortly after her 68th birthday (September 20). Questions I had for her were never answered. Apologies I craved from her were never received.
How did I deal with that loss? Terribly, at first. Talk about bad choices! I tried to replace that hole in my heart with a variety of temporal and unhealthy solutions. It wasn’t until my heart was filled with the love of God, through my faith in Jesus Christ, that I stopped focusing on my personal loss and started thinking about Mom and all she had experienced. I forgave her. I began to write stories fueled by my imagination, hope, newfound knowledge, remembrance of the good times, and a desire to keep God’s commandment to honor my mother.
Like this one. I imagined Mom in her current state of eternal life with God, listening to others tell their stories — theologically incorrect, I’m sure, but that was not my goal here.
This was: To hear her give to me the apology that I never received.
As I drove through one of my childhood neighborhoods, I was surprised to find Hoit Gardens only four blocks from Milpas Street, the main street on the east side of my hometown. As a child, I thought it took for-e-ver to walk to Milpas from our house.
Driving those few blocks brought back a poignant memory.
Hoit Gardens. I’m not sure who or what Hoit was, but that was the name given to the newly-built housing occupied by welfare recipients; public housing provided by the city’s Housing Authority. It was 1969 or ’70 when I, Mom, Dad, and five siblings first moved into a four-bedroom, two-bath, two-story duplex that we rented and paid for with the monthly welfare check. Nine other families did the same.
There are potato chips all over the rug, and I think about how brave Dad is not to care about the mess he’s making.
Crazy. I’m afraid to make Mom mad like that. She’d come and get at me behind my knees with a switch.
Dad’s not afraid. He’s taking his time on the Soul Express, that radio show he likes where the deejays yell and laugh and blow whistles all the time.
“It’s tiiiiiime for the Mighty Ten Ninety, Dee Dee!” And he just goes with it, dancing around the living room, stepping on anything in his way: that bag of chips, paper plates, comic books, the newspaper, his jacket. My sister’s cut-outs, too. She worked really hard to make those clothes for her paper dolls, but I see her smiling while Dad does his thing.
The United States celebrates Mother’s Day on the second Sunday in May. That’s this weekend, and it’s a perfect theme for this month’s Story of the Month.
While researching the Great Depression (1929-1940) for one of my stories, I found this photo and it is an amazing one. The joy this woman shows, despite her poverty, is the perfect picture of motherly love.
Inspired by the photo, I imagined myself sitting with this woman to learn about her typical day.