The following is a poem I found the night before Thanksgiving. My mother died in August two years ago. I never knew that she was alone in this way. I figured she was a normal mom, but she was not. My father died when I was ten. That left her to raise two children alone and she hadn’t worked for at least ten years taking care of us before he died. They were divorced. She never had a stable job the rest of her life. Her remarriages were relatively short and fraught with unhappiness because she was raised to be taken care of. They were drunks or inferior employees.
The sadness of her isolation spills over me. Our parents are not “normal” people. They have sacrificed themselves for us, although that’s a cruel burden to place. Still, if I could, I would have had her live with me the whole time. But, I lived in small places and my job as a server barely supported me. She ended up with Alzheimer’s and would wander off or forget to turn off the stove. She would fall on the way to a nanny job, which she wasn’t qualified for. She would fall on her way to a cafe, where she would sit for hours, when she was in a shared home. She would fall in the bathtub because of dehydration. She hated and never drank water. I tried to lift her, but she was too heavy. The ambulance would come. Her mother died alone when my mother was 18 and my mother’s father died when she was two. Her brothers lived with her mother and were pages at the Supreme Court. My mother lived in Foster Homes because her mother couldn’t support her. It was during the Depression. Her uncle raped her and so did her boss. My mother was a run-way model on television. She dated San Francisco Mayor Moscone. She was a commercial artist. The following is the poem I found. The italicized section toward the end was written by hand in pencil and pen. The rest was typed.
Oh my son, my daughter, I miss you so.
Where are you, what’s happening, what’s new?
It’s been so long since your Daddy died
And I miss him too.
Once I bribed a friend to give you
A ticket to come to see me, so many miles
From home. I was sick and sad, and all you
Did was hold my hand for just a second, then
Off with your friends you ran. In a week you
I can’t remember what you look like, it’s
Been so long, are you happy, are you strong?
All those times I helped you out of one thing
And into another, hugged you tight when there was thunder.
Son, you said you’d take care of me when I am old
If only you knew that time is now.
You will never read this poem, but other children will.
One Christmas at the airport, I took you both aside
And said, “Can’t we three always plan to be together
At least at Christmas?”
You got married, I didn’t approve
’Cause she was taking me from you
Cause she wasn’t right with you
I never interfered, though you were getting hurt.