Sunday, May 9, 2010

My mother’s hands…a re-post from 3 years ago...

I remember when my Mom passed and I went in to say my final good-bye, I was taken by her hands.


Still manicured with strong, pretty nails. The skin on her hands was almost transparent – tissue like.

Almost afraid if I touched them they would tear. You could see the veins clearly. Long thin fingers . I touched them anyway, one more time to feel those hands.

As I look at mine now, although chubby and age-spotted, they are starting to look like my Mother’s.

Not manicured by any means. And not long and thin – but somehow as soft- almost as transparent. I miss her hands. I miss her.

It’s so funny – I really have no features that remind me of my Mother. I look more like my Dad’s side- chubby and pink. White hair and a quick smile... I’ve often thought I look just like my Dad in drag – ..although I NEVER saw him in drag – just to be clear.

I miss them – the both of them . It’s odd to think of one’s self as an orphan, but I guess we are. The Sullivan kids. The 4 of us. Now we’re the elders.

{edited to add..now we are three...}

We have such a beautiful and strong legacy of grandchildren to leave our world to.

I hope they all remember us; the softness in our touch and the love in our hearts.

**I'd like to add something today for my Mother..we were not close when she was alive..I didn't understand all that she had gone through and all that she never had..I was young and foolish ...a "Daddy's girl"...

Mother was gone a lot of the time in my early years..she suffered from what was then called "manic depression" and what now is called "bi-polar depression"..some highs and many many lows..


And, back then, it was something to be quite ashamed of..how embarrassing for anyone to know I spent my Sundays visiting my Mother at the state hospitals..mental institutions no less..

And what I know now..I cannot imagine living..shock treatments, being "committed" to state hell holes, medications that made her catatonic..horrible, horrible state mental hospitals..screaming..crying..people tied in chairs..

I cannot imagine..and I cannot imagine leading the life she did..all because of undiagnosed, (or poorly diagnosed at best) chemical imbalances that today can be rectified with a little pill..One. Little. Pill.

It's true that she was not capable of bringing me home from the hospital as a baby..and I learned later in life I was raised by an Aunt & Uncle for almost the first three years of my life because my Dad could't care for a baby when there were three young children at home already..and a wife that was "unstable"..

So she was over-medicated..mis-understood, unloved by most (no one really knew her except her best friend, Dorothy, who remained her best friend for over 70 years until my Mother's death)..

She was abandoned by an alcoholic father, was the middle child behind a pretty, domineering, very smart older sister and one beloved younger brother.

Grandma Sullivan & Aunt Alice

(it is said my Grandfather beat my Grandmother, and that the whole time she was pregnant with my Uncle, she prayed that the baby would be a son.....not another girl....to make my Grandfather happy.. it was a son, but as far as making him happy - that was not to be..he left and his family never knew what happened to him..)

Just recently,through genealogy, I found his death certificate..he died alone, listed as "divorced" and would never know any of his grandchildren, dying when my brother would have been 6 months old..his only grandSON)

All her life, Mother felt inferior..stayed with a bad tempered {but never abusive..}, many times out of work, silly old Irishman who didn't understand mental illness either..

My Mother never learned to drive, never handled money or responsibility, never knew how to love, deeply..never had hobbies, never read books, never had a chance to escape..except into her illness..

She did the best she could to remember to breathe in and out everyday..

But once in a while..once in a while..she and Daddy would dance...then she smiled..she was light on her feet and they knew each others moves..they glided..I can still see them....closest thing I could see to love..

Mother with her red lipstick and "rouged" cheeks..Daddy, with shined black shoes..and gray hair slicked back..every once in a while, a little "jig" in his step..smiling..both of them..but not at each other..not really..it was the dance...

Oh if I could take back so much of the hurt and withheld emotion from my Mother..


But I can't..and it's taken me the better part of my adult life to even get a brief understanding or glimpse of what her life was like..

And I am sorry..

I loved my Mother. And I am sorry for not letting her know..

-me

8 comments:

BonnieRose said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kristina said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Brandi said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Colleen - the AmAzINg Mrs. B said...

It's OK to leave comments.. :-)

I only "delete" the old ones..

-me

Laurie said...

Your post is so touching Colleen, my mother suffered with severe agoraphobia when we were growing up, and spent most of her time on the couch crying when she was going through really bad episodes. It would get so bad that she swore people walking down the sidewalks were aliens. I myself am on medication for this disorder, and it's so hard for people to understand. It's easier to become mad or impatient with those suffering from mental illness. Until it's too late. Mom now has those frail, transparent hands. Arthritic, and sad. I love her, get impatient with her, and your post reminds me to love her out loud. I'm sorry for your loss, but she loves you and is with you every day. Bless you.

Vee said...

You've told her story compellingly, Colleen. I'm sorry that she was so broken. (My father is bi-polar. Similar story. Rough life. He's broken, too, and that one little pill has failed him miserably in the end.)

Stories by Me! said...

Even sad stories need remembering. The pictures are priceless!

Vicki said...

Oh Colleen, I've been trying to catch up on some blogs and this one made my heart ache...
How terrible for all of you. But how touching that you can now 'Love' your mom. Wow, bless her heart...