|Mother's Day pictures worth a thousand words: "Happy as usual to have picture taken! May 1942." Written by my mother on the back of the photo to the left.|
It was like that with Grace Wright and her only child. We rarely saw eye to eye. Things did not improve much between the two of us after my father passed away when I was 14 years of age. I left home for good before my 18th birthday, but in my mother's eyes I remained tied to her apron strings.
My mother (I always called her Grace, which may tell you something) loved me beyond words...There were just times when she had a strange way of showing it. I never quite met up to her expectations and she did not hesitate to remind me of that fact. "Other sons do not treat their mothers the way you do me...Jim Ruttle and Danny Burns do not act that way towards their mother...You are an ungrateful son...Why can't you be like other sons? What did I do to ever deserve a son like you?...Some day you will be sorry...You are driving me to distraction...Some day you'll find my body floating up the Sydenham River (suicide) and it will be all your fault." Always about her! Words that remain ingrained in my heart and soul.
Equally strong in my memory are the razor straps, brooms, yard sticks and fly swatters all amply applied without aim to any part of my body that happened to be exposed. Funny, I do not recall her ever using her bare hand. I no doubt did things to prompt those reactions, but I do not remember what. I am sure that there were times when I disappointed her and did not quite measure up. I was just a boy naturally growing up to be a man the only way I knew how and it was not always the way that met with my mother's approval or her preconceived notion of how things should be.
In later years, when I would visit her, it always seemed that we would have a major disagreement just as I was leaving. To this day I can hear her sobbing and crying hysterically in the house as I pulled out of the driveway. I always struggled with the urge to go back (a bear for punishment), but I resisted the impulse because I knew it was her way of victimizing me. In the end she would win, however, because I always felt guilty about it for days. "Next time things will be better," I always thought -- but they never were. "Next time I'm going to hug her right off the bat, and give her the recognition she craves," I promised myself -- but I never could.
On several occasions I confided in my mother, telling her that I was having difficulty dealing with some aspects of my boyhood and my relationship with her. On both occasions her reply was the same: "I don't understand it...You came from a very loving family." My mother would never take ownership, or say I'm sorry.-- for anything. She was just too strong-willed for that.
In my experience Grace had a split personality. She was kind, loving, fun, life-of-the party, Christian on one hand and aggressive, hurtful, emotional, self-possessed, off the deep end, and melodramatic on the other. As I grew older I came to understand that we were very much alike in many respects and that may have been at the root of many of our problems. Time and again, when I react to situations in certain ways, I cannot help but feel that it is my mother coming out in me. In later life I sought medical help for my bipolar-like symptoms. Sadly, that kind of assistance was not available in my mother's day, although I do not think that she would have ever submitted to treatment. She was just too proud. It was the world that was wrong, not her.
I apologize to my readers for not being more sentimental on this the 76th Mother's Day of my life. But it is what it is...I do not celebrate two dates on the calendar -- New Year's Day and Mother's Day, both of which are rather sad occasions for me, filled with regrets for life left behind and laments over the fact that I cannot do a damn thing to change any of it.
Grace Wright would be very disappointed in her son for having written this. She would deny it!
What would make this any different?