Her name was Joan


March 18, 2019. Today is 29 years since my Mom died in 1990. Cancer. She was only 60 years old. It was a few months after I turned 24. Two years before she died, when she was told she had cancer and was given a prognosis of 6 months to live, I moved back to my hometown to be with her. We got an unexpected 2 years together, having been living in different cities since I was a mere 9 years old.

I didn’t get near enough time with her during my own lifetime. I was robbed of the time I should have had with her. There’s just no other way to put it.

My late father pressured me…an emotional 9 year old little girl who had experienced neglect and abuse…to move in with him and his new wife. He convinced me that my Mom didn’t really want me other than for the child support payments he was making. He promised me we’d get a horse, which I had always wanted. He made me spy on my Mom, keeping track in a notebook of when she came home at night, how late it was, or if she even came home all. They were both alcoholics, you see. But the difference was that my Mom had a heart of gold. I can’t say that about my dad. They both had their demons, but they dealt with them very differently. Between 8 and 9 years old, I was made to choose who I wanted to live with – a decision no child should ever be made to make. I chose him and his new wife.

I occasionally wonder what life would have been like had I chose differently.

Of all the people no longer in my life, living or dead, it is my Mom who I miss the most. If I could choose anyone to sit down with again for even just an hour, it would be her. It seems ironic that the older I get, the more I miss her; the more I need her. I wonder what she would say and advise. I wonder how she would be with Brendan Bjorn. And I wonder if she ever forgave the little girl who inadvertently broke her heart, as her own young heart was breaking, and who was driven away from the family home while her mother stood in the doorway crying. I’d like to think she never even blamed me for that choice.

So on this 29th anniversary of my Mom’s passing, I wonder what she was like before I knew her. What made her the adult she became? This photo of her is one of my favourites. What was she laughing at? Did someone say something funny or was she, even then, just the shy young woman that she was as an adult and so was nervous about having her photo taken? I’ll never know, but I can wonder and imagine. How I miss that big happy smile that forced her bright blue eyes to squint shut! That’s the memory I’ll hold onto today. She was creative, sensitive, loving, passionate, compassionate and kept far too much bottled inside. What’s that they say about the apple and the tree?

For you, Mom. Your memory lives on, as does your love.
I love you. Always. 

Mom 1953 (2)

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