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Surviving Vegas (How I grew up and put unconditional love as my mantra)

I would like to start this post out by first thanking some of my Twitter followers (you know who you are) for the support you showed me over my last post.  All of you, strangers to me, who showed me such love and compassion…it really does bolster my faith in the human spirit!  This post will actually be dedicated to those who DM’ed me to tell me that you knew my pain on a first hand basis, or through your spouses going through the same situation.  The fact is, once you’ve lost a parent, you are the unwilling member of  the club nobody wants to belong to, but most become grateful for.  There is an understanding between all of us, and a support that you can’t find anywhere else.  To those of you who got it, this one’s for you.

The fact is, the trip went better than I thought.  Let me correct that, I was better than I thought I would be.  I don’t know where I drew the strength to hold it all together, but I did.  Why?  Because I realized that it’s not my dad’s fault my mom died.  It’s not his girlfriend’s fault either.  I can’t penalize my father and demand he remain alone for the rest of his life because none of this was his doing or desire.  I think if he had his choice, my mom would be alive and things would be as they were.  We just can’t always get what we want.  At the end of the day, I want me dad to be happy, because I love him.  I love my dad enough to wish him happiness even if it makes me uncomfortable, sad, or even angry at times.  That’s what love is.  I love him so much, I wanted to make his day happy, even if the situation highlighted to the utmost degree for me that my mom is gone.  The best way to do that, in my mind, was to just hold it together, put on a smile whenever I could, and maybe do something a little extra.

I knew going into this trip that the only way I could keep it together was to differentiate between my sadness of my mom (and how my dad marrying someone else put a big ol’ fat emotional spotlight over the fact she’s no longer here) and my love for my dad.  The two didn’t HAVE to go together on this trip. I also had support from my husband and 2 other family members that knew EXACTLY how hard it was going to be.

The ceremony was really nice.  I made sure not to drink too much, and I wrote and performed a speech for the bride and groom.  I forgot my glasses, and couldn’t read it in the moment, so I just winged it.  About half the guests made a point to come up to me to say how fabulous the speech was, and how impressed they were.  My dad grinned ear to ear.  I think he was proud of me.  The only really tough time where I struggled were on the few occasions when people came to talk to me about my mom.  I feel guilty now for not saying more, but if I had I know I would have cried.  Then came socially awkward woman…..

The day after the wedding, most of the guests got together for drinks.  One woman came up to me as I was preparing to leave and wanted to congratulate me on my speech. Then she went off track and mentioned she had heard much about my mother.  My husband sensed me tensing up.  The next thing I knew, the woman started saying “You know, my mother died too.  My dad got a new girlfriend, and I didn’t like her, no not one bit.  I had good reason, mind you!  She was a BITCH!  You know, if my dad got sick she would have run in the opposite direction!” There was more, but I think my brain turned a bit jellified and much of it after is a blur.  All I knew is that I was suddenly acutely aware that my dad’s new wife was standing right behind Social Awkward One.   I hope she didn’t hear and think *I* had started that conversation or had said anything about her.  I DO wonder what has been said about me to socially awkward one, however.  Has it been said I was slow to warm up to my dad dating in general, or dating the new wife?  Yuck.

I am home now.  There have been some tears as I think of my mom.  I guess I always felt like Marriage was forever, at least I want it to be for me, and also for my parents.  I suppose I forgot about the “until death do us part” section of the vows.  I miss her, and I am angry that she was taken so young.  I am angry that she is not living the life she should be.  I am sad that some of her possessions are now in another woman’s house.  I do take solace, however, that she has me to tell her story to her grandchildren.  I shall not forget her, and I shall bring her alive through pictures, stories, and the love I give to them.  I think she loved my dad enough to want his happiness now, and THAT is why I put my big girl pants on and acted like an adult.  I won’t pretend it was easy…there were times this weekend that were tough!  Like the moment when someone referred to my dad’s wife as my mom by mistake!   That was a dagger.  She is not my mom, she never will be.  Hopefully, she can be my friend, and a grandparent figure to my kids.  Hopefully, things will improve, if I make more effort towards that.

Oh yes, one other benefit of this trip was an amazing boost to my own marriage.  Mr Messy went above and beyond this trip to make anything he could less stressful.  I was so mindful of this, and so grateful for the love I share in my own relationship.  I guess that with work and kids, life’s stresses had taken us over.  I made every effort to let go of that, even under the circumstances of why we went.  It made a huge difference to be just him and I for a couple of days.  I think we will make the effort to get away, even if just for an overnight, once in a while.  My husband is my perfect match…I had just forgotten to tell him and show him that.

Thanks again for your support, loveys.  The kindness of strangers, yet it all means so much.  To all those who were or are in my shoes…know that you have my support and my ear.  If I can get through it, so can you.

Messy xx

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3 responses »

  1. Hi Messy,
    I can TOTALLY relate to your pain. My Mom died suddenly 4years ago. I was not prepared for it I was 36 yrs old, had two small children that were absolutely in love with their Gigi . I will never forget that day and all the chaos. My family all live on a huge ranch, our houses are walking distance. My Mom was my everything, best friend, shopping buddy, lunch buddy, everything! It’s very difficult to see her house and the porch she would always be sitting on. My parents were married 42 years. My Mom would always say if she were to die first he would move on quickly, she was right. It is very hard. I told my Dad no woman will live in this house and if he were to remarry I would not allow him to be buried next to my mother in the family plot.
    I told him he can date have companions all he wants but not ever Marry.
    I don’t know if I am right in my thinking but I’m extremely loyal to my Mom and feel he should be the same.
    As time is passing I realize men and woman are so different when they lose their spouse.
    My Mom would have been content with us, her daugtgers and grandchildren.
    My father, a man NEEDS more.
    Anyway, just wanted to tell you I share your pain- you did an awesome job of just putting “auto pilot” on getting the job done
    Take care xx

    Reply
    • I’ve had people tell me recently that woman can do fine on their own, but men need women, especially in their later years. I want to thank you for sharing your story with me. I too felt the same way, and even had almost the same conversations with my dad. Before the new wife (oh God, it’s so hard to type that!) there was a different woman who came around. I found out she was IN my mother’s house and told me dad he had better get her out before I got there, or I would personally escort her out….by her throat. Strangely, this in a sense is all a weird compliment to my mother. My mom was my dad’s other half. She looked after him and loved from the very get go. They were such a self contained unit that when she died he was completely lost. I saw it as replacing her, but that wasn’t the case really. He was just trying to regain a fraction of himself that he felt he had lost. It’s not a replacement, it’s just….different.

      I understand your anger. I have been angry too. Oh, I have been SO angry. I’ve been angry at everyone and everything about losing my mom and watching other people move on with their lives when it feels like I am not. Then I realize…I’m sure on the surface, it seems like I have. Life must go on. But inside, I feel the same as I did on the day she died. Perhaps in some ways our dads do too. It looks like forward movement, but maybe they too are still stuck on that day. I feel like I took so much of my anger out on my dad, not realizing that he was suffering also. My anger won’t bring mom back, won’t change a thing except make us all unhappy. And she would HATE that. A friend of mine recently confided in me that my mom and her had a chat not long before my mom died, and mom said most of all, she worried about me…that I wouldn’t be able to cope. My goal now is to cope as best I can, so if she “can see me” she won’t worry so much.
      xx

      Reply
  2. Patty H Chicago

    Nature often offers metaphors more elegant than any we can manufacture. In the redwood ecosystem, buds for future trees are contained in pods called burls, tough brown knobs that cling to the bark of the mother tree. When the mother tree is logged, blown over, or destroyed by fire – when, in other words, she dies – the trauma stimulates the burls’ growth hormones. The seeds release, and trees sprout around her, creating the circle of daughters. The daughter trees grow by absorbing the sunlight their mother cedes to them when she dies. And they get the moisture and nutrients they need from their mother’s root system, which remains intact underground even after her leaves die. Although the daughters exist independently of their mother above ground, they continue to draw sustenance from her underneath.
    I am fooling only myself when I say my mother exists now only in the photograph on my bulletin board or in the outline of my hand or in the armful of memories I still hold tight. She lives on beneath everything I do. Her presence influenced who I was, and her absence influences who I am. Our lives, are shaped as much by those who leave us as they are by those who stay. Loss is our legacy. Insight is our gift. Memory is our guide.”

    Motherless Daughters
    The Legacy of Loss
    Hope Edelman

    Reply

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