Tomorrow will be the twenty-first anniversary of my mother’s passing. We were very close though we often did not see eye to eye.
Recently I’ve drawn comparisons between my mother’s life and the one I’m chugging along with. I left home around the time my mother was forty-five, the same age that I am at now. My kids moved about a year and a half ago with their mom because they’re not at the point where they can be on their own.
When I left home, my mother continued working but unbeknownst to me, she was abusing alcohol. I know now that she was very lonely and there was pain, a pain that I’ve not been able to put my finger on. She lost several siblings before she died and perhaps the losses weighed more heavily on her than I imagined.
For the last four years of her life, she lived alone. I know that she watched lots of TV and read the daily newspapers without fail. After she had read the papers she would doodle on them. I have a few of the newspapers she left behind to this day.
I think of the times when I’m alone and at my loneliest and I think of her. It’s painful as fuck to be alone. And when I say alone, I mean without friends or family nearby. I’m saying that if I dropped dead right now no one would notice until I didn’t show up for my next workday. I understand her pain more today than I ever did.
I know now that my mother chose a slow and painful road to death. I say chose because I think she made a conscious effort to give up. It was one of those choices you make that you’re too embarrassed to share with another person. You just continue on a destructive path until its over.
Sadly, she lost the opportunity to see me grow into a middle-aged dude. I’m gray, my hair is receding and I am at the beginning stages of arthritis. She would have gotten a kick out of all that. She lost the opportunity to see her grandchildren grow up. Two are in adulthood and two are at the cusp of it.
To that end, I noticed some people on my dash voicing their despair. Most of them have children and families. If you are in pain, seek help. Don’t deprive yourself of the good and exciting things that lie ahead, both for your family and yourself.
In the last year or so, I’ve lost my ability to drink myself to oblivion. I don’t know when it happened or how it happened. I just woke up one day and stopped drinking myself to death. There would have to be a monumental turn in my wellness for me to die at the forty-nine as she did.
That monumental turn has three years to go. Give it your best shot.