A Tale of Two Mothers

When I was growing up, I only knew one mother. I had a step-mother also, but that's not what I'm talking about here. I'm talking about the second person inside my mother—a person I didn't "see" too much growing up, but became more apparently as I graduated college and started my own life.

At first, I didn't know what to think. I was, quite frankly, in denial that this person I had grown up with and loved was also someone that had serious issues. It took other people to help me see this—namely the person who is now my wife but was not at the time.

That "other mother" came out when my mother was drinking. Which she did when I was growing up, sometimes to excess, but not often.

Clearly something changed after I graduated from college. Her marriage to the person I call my step-father, who my mother was with for many years but did not marry until after I graduated, clearly was not going well. There were definitely some financial difficulties, which certainly did not help matters.

Her relationship with me also soured. When my mother was visiting me and, apparently, drinking, she was telling me some downright crazy things. Despite my lack of interest, she kept going on and on, telling things I was pretty certain were false. I can't remember exactly what I told her, but it was something along the lines of "shut up, you're full of crap."

Then the demons of hell unleashed from her mouth. She demanded I take her back to the airport RIGHT NOW (her flight home was the next morning) and continued to verbally berate me as I drove her to the airport.

A few years later, after I was married and the first child was born, my mother started calling me again. She had apparently started going to AA and was trying to make amends. She tried for a while but it became clear she was still drinking and before too long, started talking crazy.

The stress of not knowing which version of my mother I might be speaking with at any given time was just too much for me. I did not want to expose my children to this. I told my mother, in no uncertain terms, I wasn't going to speak to her again.

That was some time ago, and I think she ultimately accepted my decision. Now that she has passed on, she can cause no more drama in my life.

Meanwhile, stories about my mother are surfacing that remind me she was, in fact, a person some thought fondly of. She had her redeeming qualities, at least when she was sober, and I will not forget the things she did for me growing up.