As our nation celebrates its independence, I wish for the same for my mom and other victims of domestic abuse.
It’s gotten worse. My mom hasn’t hit “bottom” but it’s worse.
This month was the annual family reunion on my maternal grandfather’s side. They’re a bit odd, but it’s all the family my mom has left, and they are the cousins she grew up with. Nearly all of them live in other places now, so this reunion is the only time she sees them. This event was so important to my grandparents that they footed the entire bill for the whole thing for many years.
She offered to drive my grandmother to the Saturday evening event out in the country. Another family member also needed a ride and my grandmother wanted to ask my mom if she can join them.
But mom wouldn’t answer her phone. She has one of those stupid ring-back tones on it and it does several loops of “9 to 5″ and then goes to voicemail. I guess I should take comfort in that a) the phone is on and b) she’s not hitting the Ignore Call button. Anyway, it’s either that or that her phone was really far from her for hours at a time (not likely).
She probably didn’t want to go. She didn’t want her cousins to ask about The Abuser. They might see how bad she looks or read more into the situation than she wants them to know. She’s also pissed that he was never invited. Other people bring their SOs, so if she wants him to go, it’s only up to her to invite him. Emil went when we were engaged.
In the past, I couldn’t text her because, “I’m not typing on that little screen, and I’m not paying for someone else to send me a text.” Because $0 a month so her daughter could send her short messages would break the piggy bank. Right. (Yes, I offered to pay for it if it’s not included.) She had to go to a pretty significant effort to have text messages turned off. Oh, and if you try to text, you don’t get an error. She just never gets it. It’s like leaving a message for your junior high boyfriend.
So, I texted her anyway, on the off chance that a setting changed and she’d get it. I kept trying to call. I got permission from my grandmother to tell her that I’m calling over & over because my grandmother needed to talk to her and can’t reach her. The text worked. She both got it and replied and called my grandmother! It’s 2015 and small miracles do happen. She said her phone was at her side at all times. Well, calls aren’t going through.
She did call, again, with him there prompting her every word, to re-live her humiliation again. I told her (for the umpteeenth time) that I would not entertain this conversation. She used the word “sex” this time. I told her that yes, “that’s what ‘cheating’ means and I knew that” and that the conversation was over. After not having something else to talk about, we hung up.
I immediately called The Abuser’s number. He, of course, didn’t answer. I let him a voicemail that started with “What the fuck do you think you’re doing?” I told him that he either forgives her or he doesn’t and that making her relive humiliation over and over again was emotional abuse. I also told him that if it happens even just one more time that I will call the police. And I will.
They need to break up; that much is abundantly clear. Neither of them is brave enough to do that.
She skipped both reunion events, as it turned out (….bailing on my grandmother for the ride).
Before the “sex” phone call, she was quite confused that Emil & I weren’t going to the reunion. We haven’t been in a decade or more…since my grandparents quit hosting it. It’s not a REunion for us since I’ve only ever known any of them one day a year. We never go. My mom is fully aware of the multitude of reasons I don’t go. She kept asking when we’d get there. I kept telling her we weren’t going. “Oh, I thought you were.” In this way, conversations with her are exhausting. This messed up cognition is why she needs to see a neurologist, but there aren’t any good ones in Paris. There aren’t even any who do what she needs.
After the weekend of the reunion, I called her (mostly to ask her why she didn’t go). She asked if we made it home safely. “Um. We haven’t left the house today.” “Well, I just wanted to be sure you got home safe.” “Home from where?” Yep, she still thought we went to the thing. So she skipped what she thought was a chance to see her only child over a fight with her boyfriend, The Abuser.
I really wish she could find the strength to fire him from their relationship and the comfort to live alone.
When will this finally end?
I’m going to try to call her and my grandmother today to tell them I’ll be unavailable for the week. If there is an update to things,
We made the trip home, and it wasn’t easy, but my mom’s Will is done and secured in a place where more than one of us can get to it.
I won’t go into all the details, but Thursday was one long, giant fight. We got there at ~3pm and she showed up at 3:30 or so. We had no time to prepare as we had planned, so when pushed to explain, we had to just jump right in. My method of a written letter might have shown how important this is, but we had to skip that part. But, Friday morning was a new day in more ways than one. She re-read the Will on last time (with the changes I made from Thursdays conversations) and then willingly went with us to the bank for the signature and storage.
Next up: Health Care Directive and Powers of Attorney. These last three documents are all a lot easier than the Will. So I might even be able to take my templates, mail them to her, and have her go to the bank on her own. Maybe.
We’ve missed the last couple of Luza Easter gatherings. Two years ago, we were just exhausted. Last year, it fell on our anniversary and we wanted to do something “better” than eat cheap frozen hamburgers and hot dogs in Dime Box. (We went downtown, had burgers, and bar hopped a little.)
This year, though, Emil and I had a plan that would get us there with minimal hassle and kill at least two birds with one stone.
Since my mom is in her, um, situation, I need to make sure she does some paperwork. She’s been promising to get an attorney and write a Will, but she hasn’t done it in large part because she can’t work on that stuff with him around…and he’s always around. Well, a DIY Will from the Internet is better than nothing, so I’ve written one listing me (her preference) and my grandmother (my preference) as her beneficiaries.
Texas has funny laws about unmarried women. We are her two relatives; it should go to us, in my opinion. My grandmother disagrees and thinks it should go to me, solely. Since neither of them have a computer (because mom’s abuser destroyed hers), I get to say what we do.
Mom keeps saying she doesn’t really need a will because I’m her only beneficiary. I keep telling her that if she’s dead, she won’t be able to tell anyone that. I swear she thinks she’ll never die. She’s stubborn enough to cheat death, so maybe she’s right.
So our plan was to go to Paris April 1-2, get mom to sign the Will with a Notary, take lots of pictures for digital records of the Will, get it tucked into my grandmother’s safe deposit box (since no place my mom has access to is safe from him), and then head back to this part of the state. We could swing through Bryan to see Emil’s mom and hit Dime Box on our way by for Luza Easter (on Holy Saturday). It would be a long 3 days, but we’d have Easter Sunday to recover and we’d hit all the necessary stuff. This plan was Emil’s suggestion even though it would mean he’d miss his Thursday D&D group.
Dear plan, meet the monkey wrench
Emil’s coworker has some family stuff going on. He was out a couple of days 2 weeks ago. He’ll need to be out Thur/Fri this and/or next week, but doesn’t yet know. They are part of each other’s backup so they can’t plan to be out at the same time.
- We can’t plan Easter until we get this paperwork thing planned with my family….even if they aren’t the same weekend. We’ve been putting this off for too long and I need to a) see my family and b) get this taken care of. 
- We can’t plan this paperwork thing until Emil takes the time off.
- He can’t take the time off until the coworker decides if he will/won’t take the time off.
- Coworker can’t take the time off because his thing is family and he can’t risk taking time off he doesn’t need since he might need it worse, later.
So when the email came in this week asking everyone, again, if we’ll be at Luza Easter, all we could say is “we’re trying” and “well let you know when we know”.
And, of course, now it’s spring and pretty weather and I’d rather be in Austin than Paris for any of it. I wish we had done this paperwork in the dead of winter. We just couldn’t find a date that worked.
 As you might imagine, there is a lot more going on with my mom and that relationship than I’ve talked about on our blog. This is what you might call the tip of the iceberg. …and I’ve probably already said more than I should. Although, it’s not slander or libel if it’s true, so I have that on my side.
I guess maybe there is pretend truth to the statement that time heals all wounds.
This was the first year since that awful day in 2002 when “God” took Daddy from this world that I didn’t hone in on the date.
Of course, I don’t believe that “God” took him. I believe that we aren’t yet skilled enough in science to have saved him. The DOG knew weeks before. My MOM knew weeks before, too, but she can’t remember any of her behavior that then seemed erratic. My grandmother & I knew, but to a far lesser degree. If Randi Cae the Schnauzer could have talked, she would have told us he was dying.
It wasn’t until I saw Sandra Tweet to Emil, “Did you call Mom for her birthday?” that I realized the date. It a terrible thing to have an immediate family birthday and a immediate family death on the same day. Every reminder is a curse.
It’s not easier with time. In fact, the distractions I had today made it worse. I feel worse for not remembering (either of) the events.
Dear Daddy, I still miss you every damn day. I still wish you were among us. It’s not fair to this world that you are not. Neither I nor any god can satisfactorily explain your sudden departure from our world.
- Did you leave me so I’d not have the kids I didn’t really want? For sure, your part of their life would have been a big pro on that list. But, I don’t think it would have out-weighed all the cons. There are so very many.
- Did you leave so Mom could end up with Larry3? Seeing as how he beat her, broke her house, and repeatedly continues to emotionally abuse her, I don’t think that is sound or logical.
- Did you leave Mom so she could be there for Larry3? If so, why is he mean to her?
- Did you leave your golf buddies for being the bigots they are? If so, you could have just moved to place with less bigots. It’s clear that Paris, Texas is a shit hole, but you don’t have to live in that shit hole.
….See? It’s not easier with time. The best you can hope for is to remember early in the day so you don’t feel guilty for forgetting until late in the day.
Fuck you, “god” and “universe”. You don’t deserve my love or adoration or attention. You took Daddy at half his life.
Happy Birthday, Mom L. (She can’t see/read this, but I wish it to her all the same.)
 It’s possible that recent bigotry (from Chad) had me distracted.
2014. Today would have been your 68th birthday, Daddy. I miss you. You left us all much too soon. The world is weaker without you in it. My world is sadder with you gone. God is either cruel or non-existent; I believe in the latter.
It’s been a year (& little) since my grandfather passed and since our vacation this direction last summer…and thus since we’d been “home”. Of course, Paris has never felt homey to me and hasn’t been my home since the day I left for college…other than a couple of very-temporary summers.
This trip is for my grandmother, Mama Bee. We arrived surprised to find my mom in attendance. Last time we were here, she either forgot we were coming or didn’t care to see us. I never heard from her, so I assumed she not only forgot, but also never had the “oh shit!” moment after the fact.
Anyway, dinner prep/post caused me more concern for my mom’s physical health. Neither Emil nor Mama Bee noticed what I did, so maybe I read too much into her trembling while carrying a plate of rolls. She was polite & seemed to be distracted-at-worst…I’m sure by the permanent elephant-in-the-room.
After she left, Mama Bee showed me some keepsakes, including the shadow box that was her Xmas gift to herself. It contains all of my grandfather’s military insignia & medals.
We talked until midnight…trying to solve all the problems…& then when I went to shower, I found the beaded bluebonnet ornament she hung in the guest bath. It’s from around the time we got married, so it’s been in there a long time, but I always forget about it & seeing it mis-matched against the wallpaper she picked when they built this house alway makes me smile…
My great grandmother, Mama Salter, put a crochet hook and some yarn in my hand when I was just a baby–far too young to remember. She didn’t care what I did, she just wanted me to play with it. I can not remember learning how to crochet the basic stitch. I only remember my grandmother, Mama Jo teaching me variations and helping me problem solve. I crocheted for fun. I rarely made anything of value. I guess Mama Salter taught me to love the craft for the sake of the craft.
A few months ago, my dad’s cousin, Thom, called me. He was helping his mom, Rebecca, or Aunt Becker to all of us, clean out a closet. They ran across two doilies that Mama Salter made and passed down to them. Thom asked her if he could give them to me. In that family of all boys, he knew they wouldn’t get the care or appreciation like they would from someone who grew up with it.
Life gets in the way and we moved before he could send them but last week, Thom and I connected again and they arrived! I was honestly moved to tears at how beautiful they are.
Now, the only question I have is who should get them next? Maybe Thom’s son will fall in love and have a crafty daughter someday.
Thank you, Mama Salter. I wish I could have known you longer and better.
As you can see, they are quite large. I centered our crystal wedding vase to show scale. Also, our dining table is 54″ and they span the full length of it when end-to-end. One has a tiny stain and the other has a minor tear (which I may try to repair if I can match the thread). Regardless, they are full of love and family (and are now tucked safely away from the oral-fixated Marble).