Today is my mom's birthday. She was born on February 12, 1931. She died on November 20, 1998. She would be 77 years old if she were still alive. I feel sad that she died so young. It will be 10 years since her death on November 20, 2008. Sometimes I remember her birthday, like today. Other years it slips by and then I remember, "Oh yeah, February 12 was Mom's birthday. I totally missed it this year."
Mom was born as the ninth child and baby of the family to a farmer and his wife. I am told that she was the apple of her daddy's eye as most baby girls are. My grandfather was in his 50's when Mom was born and my grandmother was 33 years old when she had her last baby. Mom weighed 12 pounds when she was born. Mom had already lost her oldest sister who was 18 when she died of tuberculosis. Her sister Maggie nursed a couple who had tuberculosis. Maggie caught it and died before my mom was ever born. Mom's two oldest brothers died before Mom was born also. One died of appendicitis and the other somehow as a baby climbed into a fireplace and burned to death. Mom's other three brothers and two sisters were all much older than she was. She was essentially raised as an only child. The sister closest to Mom in age was 10 years old when Mom was born. Mom quit school in the seventh grade when she thought she was going to be failed for missing too much school that year because of a major illness.
I was raised knowing, sensing, that my mother and grandmother loved each other and were angry with each other. I have discussed that in another one of my articles Family Generational Patterns of Behavior found at http://patriciasingleton.blogspot.com/2007/12/family-generational-patterns-of.html . My grandfather died in September of 1953 when I was two years old so I don't remember him. I did have a very special bond with my grandmother. When I was two years old and got the whooping cough, my grandmother took care of me so that my brother who was a baby wouldn't get it too. That is another story.
I have told you all of this to give you some background information about my mother.
The mother that I grew up with was silent and detached from her life, her emotions and her husband and children. When I was three years old, I knew that my mother didn't feel anything. At that time, I remember making the decision to be her protector. She was never mine, other than allowing me to be born.
When I got into Al-Anon, I found out that Mom use passive-aggressive behavior to express quite eloquently how she felt about everything---ANGRY. My dad was the dictator. My mom was the follower who never questioned his decision and never made any decisions on her own. When we asked her a question, it was always, "Go ask your dad." or "I'll have to ask your dad." She was not allowed to work outside of the home, outside of Dad's influence, except for two weeks that she worked in a sandwich factory when I was seven years old. That may have been to help pay for a week in the hospital when my dad got sick. She wasn't allowed to get another job until I was a Senior in high school. My brother and sister and I were never allowed to work either until we each left home.
No one really knew my mom. She didn't have any friends that weren't my dad's friends. Our family lived totally under my dad's control. As my title says, mom was the silent parent. I loved my mom and I always told myself that she loved me. It was so important that I hold on to that belief. I needed to feel that one of my parents loved me. I didn't believe that my dad did since he molested me. I kept silent myself for a lot of years because I didn't want to hurt my mom. Rmember, I had been her self-appointed protector since the age of three. By the time that I was 11 and the incest started, it was an ingrained habit for me. Protect my mom at all costs. I always put her feelings above mine.
I continued to protect my mom, even as an adult. My mom ended their marriage when she found out about my dad's girlfriend. They were divorced when I was 32 years old. I talked with my husband and he agreed that I could bring Mom to live with us. I took my protecting her to the next level. I told myself that finally she would love me if I told care of her by bringing her into my home. I was truly co-dependent. I learned that in Al-Anon too. She lived with us for 14 years.
Four years before Mom died, I was healthy enough in recovery to bless her and let her go. She moved in with my sister and lived with her for four years. A few months before her death, Mom finally got a place of her own. She loved it. I did my mom and myself both a disservice by telling her she was going to live with us. Desperation does that to a person. I was so desperate for my mother's love that I would settle for whatever I could get. I have actually said that I would settle for her physical presence if I couldn't have her love.
I have worked to forgive my mom and myself for the parts that each of us played in my life.
Here is a poem that my friend Sherryl gave me when Mom died in 1998. I will end this article with it. It states the way that I always wanted my relationship with my mom to be. The reality is that it never was. Today, I am ok with that.
Happy Birthday, Mom.
(I don't know the source that originally wrote this poem. Thank you to whoever you are.)
In the evening, by the twilight
Alone in your old rocking chair
I remember Mama
And the silver in her hair.
I remember all the stories
She used to tell me,
When I was but a little girl
Sitting on her knee.
I remember Mama
When I'd have bad dreams at night.
How she kissed away night tears and fears,
She took away my fright.
But now she's gone to be with Jesus,
In the city streets paved of gold.
The old home place seems empty,
So rustic and cold.
But I know wherever Mama's at,
She's happy as can be.
I remember Mama.
And she'll remember me.
In Memory of Cordelia Caldwell, 1931 - 1998
I love you, Mom.