Category Archives: Letters to Mom

My Mom died 4 September 2010. She was my best friend and these are to help me cope.

LtM – 13 February 2015

It’s your birthday today. You would be 70. I can’t believe it.

So much has changed since I last felt the need to write to you. I have apparently written sixteen Letters to Mom entries since you died in 2010. They help me, and I have clearly healed some with each year, as I didn’t write to you at all in 2014. 2014 wan’t easy though and I’m writing to you from a different house which I share with my best friend, Pete. My second marriage fell apart and Neil and I went our separate ways. We’re friends, and have found a way to have a new kind of healthy relationship. I am grateful.

There’s not many of our family left now, Mom; grandma is gone, Edith is gone. Kevin is our eldest now and he’s only in his fifties. We are a family of children now. I sometimes think about who will care about what I hold of yours, of dad’s and the other memorabilia of our lives when I die. I have no children. My relationships with my remaining family are pretty good for the most part, but not close. We were all closer once, decades ago when we all still lived near enough to see each other and have Christmas or Thanksgiving in the same house, but that’s a long time ago and each has a new family, new groupings. It’s life. My group, by comparison is pretty small; it’s just me.

I have friends, so don’t worry, and remaining, remote family is still family and we look out for each other from our places around the world. What I have noticed in recent years is how families evolve for people who need people. Pete’s parents invited me to their family Christmas. I was away with them for a few days, and though I initially felt strange, I found myself becoming a little part of a new group. They care about me, I care about them. It’s nice. I’ve been accepted into their family.

There was an old woman in the village named Vera who died last year. We were friends, and I thought of her as both a friend and a grandma figure. We didn’t see each other so much over 2013-2014 due to my own difficulties consuming me, but I treasure the time we had. Just before Vera died, I went to see her and to deliver some balls of yarn meant for her from another elderly village lady.

Vera was frail, in bed, and had some family and visitors around. I waited my turn to see her. She flashed a wonderful smile when she saw me; I sat by her side. She held my hand tight with bony fingers and only let it go when I asked if she’d like to see the wool I’d brought. ‘Oh yes!’ she said. We took out ball after ball and made small talk about the weight and colours. There was a particularly soft – almost feathery – yarn and she pressed it to her cheek. I did the same to my own. A little more chat, then the wool was packed back into its bag for her to take with her to the hospice. We hugged, squeezed hands, and I left her to her ‘real’ family. That was the last time I saw her; she died days later. I miss her, Mom. I really do, and I regret getting so wrapped up in my own problems that I didn’t see her as often as I had in the past. I can’t change that, but I know she never held it against me. We’d become a family of sorts too.

I’m on my own this evening. Pete is helping with the local play performances and will be back later. I had to go to him last evening to give him the news that his last grandparent was likely dying. She’s in the hospital now after a stroke, and it doesn’t look good. He was due to travel north to see her next week. He told me that when he saw her last year, she said she was ready to die. She goes through the motions, in a big house, alone. If she’s made peace with her readiness to die, we guess – after this stroke – it will happen soon.

Pete has an elderly computer client outside the village who is housebound; he’s kind of adopting her as a friend/grandparent. She has no one, sees almost no one, and is very smart. They get along great. She phoned him just before he left for the play this evening. She’s very ill and has been on fluids all week. No food. No one comes, and the one person who does check in on her is also elderly and can’t risk getting ill too. The doctor has come to her, but that is all. She called Pete because she knows him, he comes to her, and she trusts him. Her dog hasn’t been taken care of properly since she’s in bed. I think we’re going to go see what we can do to help her tomorrow. She didn’t ask us for help, but we’ll likely be cleaning up after the dog, and keeping a lonely, ill woman company for awhile. I think she’s becoming family too. I look forward to meeting her.

So things are always changing, Mom. People come into my life, people leave my life. Sometimes I’m lonely. I have the same propensity as you for keeping to myself and not going out much. Makes my little ‘family’ of friends and family very valuable to me. I may not see or chat with them nearly enough, but they are vital to my survival, even just knowing they are there. I am so grateful.

I love you and miss you.
j

[about Letters to Mom/LtM]

LtM – 22 November 2013

Hi.

I barely have the energy to write this, let alone the mental power to put words together, but I think I should. (Don’t count on me editing it either.)

I’m sitting here with dry eyes (even after drops in them – which, by the way, I’m still using the drops leftover from caring for you before you died. There was a lot left, so I brought them back with me. I’ve never liked being wasteful, but they do remind me of that time. I can’t throw them out.)
Anyway, I was saying… I’m sitting here with dry eyes after two days of tears. I hit an all time low yesterday – well, the lowest I’ve been in some time anyway. I actually sat here in despair and wanted to be dead. I have wanted to run away, live in a cave, or the like before, but to want to die is a rare thought for me. Yet, it happened and I can’t deny it. I am desperately unhappy, mom. I wish I wasn’t.

A number of things are creating this unhappiness. I am flailing at my business; sales are slow and I am trapped into a couple of little jobs that, combined, get me about £130 per month. I can’t quit them because sales are too infrequent. I feel trapped and crippled by that and by my own brain. On the positive side, I’m creating more than ever. I have always looked up to Andy Warhol’s take on doing art- it’s work. You get up, go to your factory and make stuff. Until the last year or so I was incapable of accessing that part of my brain. I believed the inspiration muse needed to lure me to the easel. That’s bullshit, and I know it. There are plenty of times I have the inspiration of a pile of wet socks, yet I go into the studio and make something special. I tore down that muse lie and go to my factory now. It feels good. I know I can change my brain. I know I can do the work and succeed. Getting it marketed and sold is another demon, and is one I’m determined to conquer. It’s fucking hard though. I’ve been entering big competitions and approached galleries earlier in the year. No bites. To say it is disheartening is a gross understatement.

I took down all my art from the entryway of the house today. Must’ve been nearly twenty paintings and mixed media drawings. I couldn’t stand looking at all this great stuff unsold. Looking at the work was some sort of millstone taunting me with the notion that the only walls my work would hang on would be my own. I know this is untrue, and I’ve sold many works this year, but seeing it all up there began to smother me. Pete is storing them at his house for me. Thank goodness they’re not here, as I may do something I regret to the lot of it.

Things have been difficult enough with my teetering mental health this past year or two (oh, Hell, who am I kidding… I’ve not been right since you died) and it has put enormous strain on my marriage. Neil and I are essentially housemates with an emotional bond. We love each other, but I am not sure what we’re doing. I know we both hurt. And again, things haven’t been right since you died. I came back changed. I blame myself. I know my failures hold him back.

I want so desperately for my mind to level out. I want to feel functional again. I don’t know if I need to see the doctor about my medicines or not, but I’m getting to a point of such internal pleading that if I don’t make some kind of change soon I am concerned about my own wellbeing. To put your mind at ease, I am not feeling suicidal, despite that statement contradicting the feelings from yesterday. I just feel empty. Numb. Vacant. I am not helpless, but even simple things are hard. I come up for air now and then, but mostly I’m in a sea of dark thoughts, drowning.

Seems like every year since you died, I become a little more like you. I understand the Hell you went through with your own mind now. If it was half as bad as I think it was, I thank you for sticking it out as long as you did. Not like you wanted brain tumours to be your guide into the ether, but I know you were relieved it was time to go. I, on the other hand, want to live a long life, fucked up brain and all. I have things I need to do. I have always believed that there is something I’m going to do that will be special, remembered. I hope it’s a painting. I think it could be.

I have no clue how to snap out of this fear I have of everything right now, this dreadful fragility, but I’m going to try. I have good friends and people who love me, so I’m pretty sure I’ve got a fighting chance.

I miss you every day. I know you were already proud of me, but I want to feel it myself. I’m glad you aren’t seeing me like this. I’m not the me I know I can be. There’s got to be a way I can break this shit and get me back. There has to be.

I love you.
j

[about Letters to Mom/LtM]

Wish you were here

I come from a long line of self-batterers, injurers, and generally klutzy people. My mom was pretty much always sporting bruises from coming into crash contact with tables, door frames, particularly thick air… This talent for beating oneself up was passed from her mother to her, and from my mother to me. This, I believe strongly, is because we are doers not bystanders, and being not particularly blessed with grace, carefulness, or common sense has contributed greatly to the scars and stories of my life, and the lives of the brilliantly bruised women before me.

This involuntary attraction to injury was in full swing yesterday, and I found myself wishing my mom could be here, among the living, just for a day – heck, just for a phone call – so that I may hear her laugh herself to coughing as I tell her how her intelligent daughter managed to punch herself in the face with a lawnmower.

It’s the kind of thing that made me want to take a bow, thank my mom and grandma in an Oscar-worthy speech, all the while wiggling my jaw to check for loose teeth.

I am my mother’s daughter, and damn proud of it.

I love you, mom, and miss you.