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Updated on October 23, 2011

My mother’s hand that smoothed my hair behind my ear to soothe me

also slapped me hard across my face because she couldn’t stop herself.

My mother’s hands, that worked so hard to feed and clothe us and keep a roof over our heads,

also choked my sister because she was five minutes late getting home.

My mother’s hands brought beautiful music from the keys of a piano, and though she was never able to read a note of music, she played in night clubs and even cut a record back in the day.

My mother’s back would bend under the weight of the horrible sadness she carried with her everywhere she ran and run she did. She chased a better place, some where that would bring her happiness, for seventy nine years until the last one, when she was too debilitated to travel, to move again.

My Mother’s eyes would cloud over with misty memories of her youth, traveling with her musician husband, all over the country. She could remember every outfit, with matching accessories, she had ever owned. Those same eyes could stop a mad man in mid-step at twenty paces and would freeze a child in absolute terror of what was to come when she looked into your room or watched you playing outside.

My mother was married six times and never gave a thought to the fact that she was the common denominator in each of those failed relationships. But this woman took care of my step-father, her fifth husband, when he was hit by a train and was left a quadriplegic. She went against doctors and administrators of the VA Hospital and fought until they agreed to release him into her care and provide all of his medical equipment and prescriptions – something that was unheard of at the time. He could not cough without her pushing on his diaphragm or have a bowel movement so she literally went after what he could not expel. Not pretty to read about? You should have had to do it. She took care of him for five years at home with no help. This same woman tried to beat me in the head with a meat pounder because I was leaving her and going back to my abusive husband.

This woman planted yellow roses and ripped my clothes to shreds. She drove in an ice storm to buy a present for under the tree so I could believe in Santa one more year and she burned a stuffed teddy bear I’d had for seven years when I made her mad. She could whip up a meal fit for royalty when you’d swear there was nothing in the cupboards to eat and she forced my sister to eat everything on her plate when she vomited trying to eat liver, everything.

She was my protector when kids would chase me home and beat me up and she would beat me until she’d fall on the floor exhausted. I was the favored child. I won’t write of what all she did to my sister.

She once got in a drag race with a kid from my school and beat him three blocks out of four and she criticized every idea, dream and hope I had as a child telling me men were no good and life was nothing but pain and sorrow, so I’d might as well get used to it.

She didn’t hug us and when we got older and tried to hug her she would stiffen and pat at our backs or leave her arms dangling at her sides. She was so jealous of my sister’s art talent she would destroy anything she made and make one herself. I was lucky, I had no talent.

She bought me my very first banana split when I was eleven years old, telling me I could get anything on the menu. Until then my biological father controlled the money and we had cones, but never ever anything more.

She had my sister sent away because she ran away but she threw her out. She moved my boyfriend in with us then I was fifteen and he eighteen and ours were the only two bedrooms on the second story of the house, but she couldn’t figure out HOW I got pregnant.

She always let me come back home when I was left somewhere by my husband and always got me set up in an apartment. And she always told me I was stupid for getting married and staying married and having children.

My last step-dad used to call her a piece of work. She was that. He adored her and took her abuse as part of the package. He cared for her as she was dying those last three years and nearly died when she did. When I last saw her alive at the hospital, she had blood flowing from her mouth, a sore on her leg that would not heal and would have required amputation of her lower leg and foot, if she had lived and she had been on dialysis three times a week for over twelve years. She had six major heart attacks, high blood pressure, gout, anemia and a host of other physical aliments. But she took her medication as she pleased, when she pleased … if she pleased. They scoped her and found ulcerations as large as a man’s hand that were causing the bleeding, but I know what actually killed her.

She had my step-father load their car with all that it would hold and at seventy-nine, she headed out with a map, less than three hundred dollars and a tank full of gas. A lamp she refused to leave behind was forced next to her leg on the floorboard of the car. It was ornate and spiked and it rubbed the sore in her leg that never healed. My step-father was almost as old as she and he was confused and frightened by the interstates and Mom would scream at you if you got afraid – it was a weakness. They met a man in a gas station and paid him a hundred dollars to drive their car to New Mexico and they boarded a bus. He stole their car and they had to call back home and have my step-father’s brother send a flat bed trailer for their car when the police found it abandoned in Texas and we sent them money to come back on the bus and rented an apartment for them and furnished it. She could no longer run, no more dreams of moving to a better place. That and that alone is what killed her.

She wanted her body cremated and it was. She wanted the ashes spread on her Mother’s grave and her husband wanted them spread on his Mother’s grave so they were divided, but as when she had control of her body, the day was windy and the ashes took flight on the wind and went where they were carried.

I hope she has finally found home and peace.

I am not so much worried about the quality of my writing of this, but of pushing the Publish button.  It is out and it has been held in too long... much too long.  So excuse any trite sayings or run on sentences.  It is finished.


Submit a Comment

  • Levertis Steele profile image

    Levertis Steele 

    6 years ago from Southern Clime

    I recognize some of those traits in the mother. Counselors have always been needed but were not always available or recognized as a source of help. Some people did not know that they had problems that needed fixing.

    This hub certainly makes one think hard, especially about the past.

  • Poohgranma profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from On the edge

    Thanks so, AE for reading and commenting. Yes, we never know for sure what all our parents experienced that formed their personalities. I think my grandmother was a pretty good lady but one never knows. I know my great grandmother was not good at all to my grandmother. And I'd hate to see what my kids would write about me too so we have to try to keep things in perspective.

  • AEvans profile image


    6 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

    Thank you so much for sharing. I am glad you were able to release the pain and hardships of your mother. Her own upbringing could have caused her to be the way she was as a mother. I believe she finally has Peace and being able to write about your feelings will finally give you the release you need, so glad you gave us a part of you. Thank you.

  • Poohgranma profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from On the edge

    Mom was such a contradiction, even to herself, and through therapy and the Grace of God, I have learned to forgive and come to understand why she acted the way she did. My abuse was not as intense as yours, though it is somewhat subjective as to how it seems when you are going through it. I think the thing I hated most was that you learn to parent as you are treated and I had to be on constant watch that I did not repeat the "sins of the mother" and I know that I did at times,not to the same degree, but I did and there is no denying it. I was inconsistent and I stayed in a horribly abusive relationship too long, long enough for it to shape the minds and reactions of my children. I sought help, times were different and more accepting, but my greatest prayer is that my grown kids have learned from my mistakes and frank discussions and will stop the cycle with this generation and it seems they have.

  • Lola1929 profile image


    6 years ago from Oregon

    She was a Cinderbitch, wasn't she? I could certainly relate to the abuse. You describe her so perfectly. My mother died at the age of 52 from lung cancer. Those Lucky Strikes finally got her. She died on the garage floor of her divorced husband's home. She was cremated, too, but I have no idea where her ashes were spread. My dad won't tell me. Thank you for the wonderful writing. Thank you for sharing part of your life with us. We are blessed because of you.

    Love from Lola

  • Poohgranma profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from On the edge

    Aw, Colin, you wrap me in such kindness with every comment you make. What an incredibly sweet and encouraging comment. I love you dear man.

  • epigramman profile image


    7 years ago

    ...I have just been browsing over your hallowed hubspace and you are quite a writer - what I would call a writer's writer - someone that other writers would aspire to - because with you it seems so effortless as if words were your best friends - and we just happen to be your lucky readers .......

  • Poohgranma profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from On the edge

    Thanks andromida for reading and leaving your comment. I believe this too, if they don't ask God for their sins to be forgiven before they die then I'm sure they are judged!

  • andromida profile image

    syras mamun 

    7 years ago

    In my school days, I came to know that we should not speak anything bad about the dead but all the good works they did while they were alive.Nonetheless, I think that everyone including the dead people is accountable to the one or to some higher spirits-this is what I believe should be the case.Thanking you so much :)

  • Poohgranma profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from On the edge

    Knives? I sincerely Granny didn't do much babysitting of the grandchildren! Shotguns too? In the picture of him in your tribute, a mere 18 years old, he looks like an innocent cherub ... of course the military will take that out of you quick enough. Sorry to hear he had such a beginning!

    Thanks much for reading and following. I'm checking out your writing now. The first I picked is fantastic!

  • PegCole17 profile image

    Peg Cole 

    7 years ago from Dallas, Texas

    This sounds a lot like my Dad's mother. That would make you my Aunt? Hmmm. Well, no. Maybe cousins. Big Mom never cut a record although she did fancy knives and found them useful in disciplining children. That and shotguns. You did well to get it out there - better out than in.

  • Poohgranma profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from On the edge

    crystolite and Q, thanks for reading and for your comments.

    stars, you are so right about hard living sometimes sucking the life right out of a family. I feel bad now that her life with us kids was so miserable for her. My kids gave me fits too but they were going through Hell right along with me and I don't think I ever regretted having them. Thank so much stars!

  • stars439 profile image


    7 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

    Your mom had a very hard life, and your life was no party either. Hard times, and just trying to live , and survive just seems to suck the life out of families. God Bless You Precious Heart.

  • QudsiaP1 profile image


    7 years ago

    I am glad you got it out of your system.

  • crystolite profile image


    7 years ago from Houston TX

    Nice hub.though i have never spoken kill about the death but i have seen reasons why i shouldn't think of it.

  • Poohgranma profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from On the edge

    Yes, she was a complicated woman. I feel bad that she wouldn't admit needing any help but that wasn't something people did back then either. At least her years before we were born were happy times and she had good memories of that.

    Her mother had it really bad. I know my great-grandmother hired her out to neighbors to work helping the mother who had several children and then would come on weekends to get the money but when Grandma cried to come home she was just left there. I don't know how long this went on, I only heard it once and then memories seemed to "disappear."

    I never heard Mom speak ill of her mother and she raised my sister until she was five. She was a very small, very strong woman whose son's all became very successful business men despite the poverty they grew up in. My aunt was one of the cook's in Frank Sinatra's home and made a good salary. We were poor but I learned some invaluable budgeting skills from my mom and how to never give up. She did love us in the way that she could and we have both come to terms with that and did take care of her as she got older ... not in our homes but with visits and financially. Thank God she never had to go to a nursing home and had a husband who adored her!

  • Genna East profile image

    Genna East 

    7 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

    Our mothers love us; sometimes, just not enough. This hub brought tears to my eyes, pooh, and a lot of understanding. Our upbringing has a tendency to dictate how we live our lives in ways that are unfathomable to us until we get older – and that includes a few of the men in our lives. Perhaps there was a bipolar condition that was exacerbated by abuse in her past. Hugs, Pooh, you’re quite a gal.

  • Poohgranma profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from On the edge

    She just didn't have it to give. It took me a few years to figure that out but I forgave her a long time ago and when your own kids get older you can get a different perspective on how your parents must have felt sometimes. The difference is feeling it and doing it. I don't remember any physical abuse past maybe 12 ... not sure but probably when I could have hit her back. Not that I ever even entertained the thought - you just didn't.

    The main thing thinking about her and they way we grew up did for me was to help me understand why I chose the men I did and why I took the abuse they handed out for so long. There have been no fathers around for three generations back which I find really interesting too - for that day and age especially. Grandma raised six kids alone and her mother was a real biatch from what I understand. Interesting, wish I had more information.

  • SomewayOuttaHere profile image


    7 years ago from TheGreatGigInTheSky know ...i've heard a few tales of mothers not far from what you've written...i keep writing it off to the generation for some that fair...i don't know...but i'm familiar with too many stories of mothers (around same generation) that didn't know how to express emotion and deal with their anger (i call it being stunted emotionally)...some treated their children in such horrendous ways and then flipped it (like a light switch) and went out of their way to show their love in their way...

    ...and after hearing the stories I have...i wonder about some of the elder abuse and where it stems some cases...the kids never got over what their parent(s) did and then when the parent grows old - the kids just really don't have it in their hearts to be patient etc. and forget who the person was/is......the parent just gets older sometimes and doesn't change their ways .....sometimes the behaviour gets worse and angrier, etc......and then they wonder where the kids are in some cases....or wonder why their kids treat them so badly...especially if the kids never forgave their parent for their behaviour...and some never do.....

    the only thing i've taken away from these stories is that most times the kids raised in this manner...raise their own kids with a 'whole lotta love' - no matter what life throws at them....

    ...this would have been hard to write....

  • Poohgranma profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from On the edge

    No, she wasn't diabetic. You know, I feel pretty silly. I figured Depression - but for some reason I didn't think of bipolar. It does make some sense...I'll have to ponder that one a while. Thanks Will!

  • WillStarr profile image


    7 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona


    She sounds a little familiar, making me wonder if she was bipolar. I'm guessing she was also diabetic.

    This was a good puts the reasons out where you can see them.


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