My Mother Still Haunts Me

Mother's TouchImage by enggul via Flickr

It’s been a weird week for me. Ads are starting for Mother’s Day, and my mother’s birthday would be this weekend. It’s especially weird this year because I am just turning the age when she died.

My mom died at age 53 from sinus cancer. It’s still pretty rare, but then it was unheard of.

My mom didn’t give herself a chance at life.

She never spent any time outdoors. She never ate fresh fruits or vegetables. She used salt like it was going out of style. She didn’t get any exercise.

She smoked 3 cartons of cigarettes a week (I kid you not), and drank.

When she was being diagnosed, I talked to the doctor in the hall before he went in to see her. I explained to him that she smoked a lot, and that she had a drinking problem that she would deny. He acted like I was lying and went in to question her.

He proceeded to ask her questions about her lifestyle. He asked her if she drank. She said yes.

He asked how much. She said 2 drinks a day.

At this point he gives me a dirty look and asks her what she drinks. She simply states, “JB.”

He says, “JB and what?” She says, “ice.”

He asks, how big a glass. She says, “oh, you know, a regular glass”, and makes motions with her hands to show the size of a regular tumbler. Like you would drink pop in.

I thought the doctor was going to fall off his chair.

She was drinking 32 oz. of straight JB a day – but in her mind, she was only drinking 2 drinks a day.

We weren’t close. My mother was abusive. I left home at 16. I was 18 when the state gave me emergency custody of my 15 year old sister.

I tried to be there for her as much as I could, but my plate was pretty full. I had my grandparents that needed help (her parents), a premature baby at home with a tracheotomy and medical equipment, an alcoholic husband, a house, a dog, a yard, and a full time job. At one point I had my grandfather in one hospital, my mom in another, and my grandmother didn’t drive. And I lived an hour away from all of them. The only help I had was my good friend who would watch my daughter because I couldn’t leave her with her dad.

The cancer was pretty awful, and quick. It ate through her esophagus so that if she drank a glass of water she would drown. It quickly spread to her brain. She was dead in 6 months.

I quit drinking after that. I eat well and take my vitamins. I get plenty of exercise. But one thing I’ve never been able to conquer is the stress in my life. My life has always been a circus. And I still smoke. I guess it’s my form of tranquilizer. (I never claimed to be perfect!)

As I come up to my mother’s birthday I wonder, will this be the year I fall over and die from the stress? Will I be one of those people that has a heart attack out of nowhere? Will I manage to live longer than my mother? Weird, isn’t it?

Turns out that I’m certainly not alone in my mother issues. Mothers have quite a hold on their children that effects them throughout life. From now until mother’s day, I’ll be writing about some of these. I think we need to address the issues we harbor within ourselves about our mothers, and try to understand how we might be affecting our kids.

And you can bet I’ll be focusing on eating even healthier than usual until the end of the year when I will have managed to live longer than my mother.

Want to join me on my eat healthy to stay alive crusade?

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4 thoughts on “My Mother Still Haunts Me

  1. Jan

    Hey Carole,

    Wow, you too huh! I’m 53 and my Mom died when she was 53, oh dang! She died of a blood clot going to her heart.

    She was a great Mom. First one up in the morning and last one to go to bed, always cleaning or cooking. My only complaint about her would be she had a tendency to slap my face a lot. I mean a lot. If I rolled my eyes or something like that! Smack!

    Back to the point though, it does kind of freak me out thinking of how young she died and now I’m that age. Will I make it through the year?

  2. Carol

    Happy Mothers’ Day!!! Thank you for sharing your story. 28 was my traumatic year. My mother committed suicide when she was 28, so my whole year of being 28 I thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown (she suffered from extreme anxiety) and end up killing myself. I laughed about it, but deep inside I wondered if I would!

    The only female role models I had were my grandparents and my aunts. I was loved and coddled and sent off to school. I never had children because I never wanted to leave a child alone in this world, as I was left. I suffered from abandonment issues for years.

    You are right, our mothers have an extreme impact on our lives.

    One surprising thing I leared from my years in social work. There can be 2 children from the same abusive and neglectful family, and one can be a failure and the other a success. If you asked each of them why they feel they are a failure or a succes, they each will give the same answer, “Because of my childhood”. It is how we deal with our “lot in life”.

    I am glad you came out on the successful side. I am glad I did, too.

    Your friend, Carol.

  3. Carole Post author

    Jan & Carol –

    Thanks so much for sharing your stories here!

    Each story I’ve read either here, or the ones I received by email have touched my heart.

    You’ve all proven the point that mother’s touch our lives forever.

    I hope everyone had a great mother’s day. It was cold here. Strange having a tan and needing a winter coat. Sigh….

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