This morning, I dreamed that I still had mom here, and that we were laughing and talking like we frequently did. I awoke to realize that it was just a dream and that I am truly in this cold, cruel world without her.
My mom was the typical black mom, she was stern and did not take a lot of lip from anyone and especially us kids. Early on, mom ensured that we kids firmly understood her stance with discipline. We thought for the longest that we were absolutely abused and that we would one day report the abuse and be rescued.
I am proud to report that never happened, mom put the fear of God and the fear of daddy in our hearts and minds early, while ensuring total loyalty to her. We feared mommy for good reason, she would not only talk a good game but followed through often on threats of discipline, punishment and beatings.
Thinking back to our family beatings when all of us six kids would line up to get what was coming to us and, what I assure you we deserved.
Mom was definitely a “spare the rod, spoil the child” believer and proved this often to us non-believers.
Building and Bonding:
I cherished my relationship with my mom, trying to get as much time as possible in a crowded court, with six of us to nurture it was a challenge to give us all time. Mom would have to make time for daddy, time for each of us, and time for herself. I am still not quite sure how she managed to pull it off, I will say I was one of her favorites…..lol! Mom often called me her real daughter.
I believe the key to being a good mom, grandma, sister etc, is to always make that person feel like they are truly your favorite. It is a bit more challenging right now due to the size of our family, I do really love each person equally but enjoy spending time with a few, more than others.
I spent most of my adult life attempting to Not be like mom. I felt abused, talked down to and felt a little lost in a crowded field when she wasn’t directly loving on me.
I wish I had listened more, spent more time, if that was possible just learning who she was and why she was rough around the edges. As a young adult, I felt superior to mom, I had the opportunity to go to and actually finish college, I was better than her. I felt that I got to choose to have two children instead of six, I was better than her. I decided not to be dependent on alcohol, or drugs or felt like I needed a man in my life, I was better than her.
Mom used to say to us girls, “whatever you be, be better than me”! Was that even possible!
How stupid was I to believe that I could ever be better than the strong, bold, outspoken, and beautiful woman that gave me life.
I so desperately wanted to be different, more, better, and live up to mom’s expectation, but could I.
Mom became my shero, when I finally matured enough to understand that we all have challenges and make decisions that don’t turn out as expected.
After being away from home, Chicago, mom for almost twenty years finding out who I was. I returned home to the arms of my mom, she was sickly and I wanted, no I needed to be near her.
I was blessed to have my job move me back home at a time that I felt I was most needed by mom. I returned to take care of her, to love on her the way she loved on me.
When I first returned home it was great, we had family outings often that included mom. She got the opportunity to get to know our children, to get to know my second husband, and to get reacquainted with me.
We had fun, went to Navy Pier as an extended family, mostly girls and mom was right beside us, it was great. We would gather for holidays, birthdays and outings, I was so happy to have mom included.
There were also challenges such as teaching mom about money, having to pay her rent or utilities. On one occasion, mom had overdrawn her checking account yet again. I was on the account so I received the notice and called her.
I said mom, you cannot continue to overdraw this account or they will close it, what happened this time. Mom said, it was the bank’s fault since she called to check her balance and it told her that she had money in the account and when she then wrote her checks they bounced. Mom said the bank should not give out bad information and therefore it was their oversight.
I explained that banks only know what amount they have in the account, they cannot determine what checks you have written or what has yet to clear, we must balance our check book so this does not continue to happen. I was not happy, I put the cash in to make the account balance as I normally did, this was frustrating.
Mom had lived with her boyfriend for a while and they decided it was time to get married, she probably decided and just told him when and where.
I was happy for mom, but my sister wasn’t thrilled, I packed up the family to travel to the city to observe the marriage, my sister did not attend. My family was late arriving to the nuptials at city hall and met the newlyweds back at their place.
They seemed happy and we celebrated in their small senior living apartment, taking pictures by the nice tree in the lobby, it was a joyous occasion, I enjoyed seeing mom happy, but something was off.
Mom was getting sicker and slower, she was having a hard time breathing and could not walk long distances without being out of breath. My middle sister was starting to label her shortness. This was my sister’s way of dealing with issues, make light of them.
We were still having outings but mom declined attending many of them. Mom did come out for my daughter’s attending the prom night for my eldest, and the 8th grade graduation for my youngest. I was elated to have her attend, even if it took her all day to walk across the parking lot.
Our Final Moments:
My mother in law had a birthday dinner at a steakhouse downtown and we asked mom to attend with us. She wasn’t feeling great but said sure. All the ladies were given a rose upon entrance and mom looked spiffy.
Mom wore a beautiful yellow blouse with a matching jacket, her hair was finally growing in nicely but it was thin so she wore a blue hat that had a gold rim to match her blouse and jacket combo.
We had a great time at the restaurant, I had a little too much wine and was not happy to have to go back into the city to take mom home, my brother in law volunteered to take mom home since he was going that way.
I was supposed to visit mom the following day, but did not want to go since I was still feeling the effects of the wine from the day before. I usually would opt to stay home but something told me to go to mom’s and so I did. I like to think this was the voice of Jesus prompting us for our own good.
My middle brother and I met at mom’s house. He brought his baby who was less than a year old and mom said the little guy needed to be around her more so he was not so enamored with her glasses that were thick and blue. My nephew kept grabbing them off my mom’s face.
We had a great visit that day with mom, even the wine didn’t seem to prevent me from enjoying the company of my mother and watching her with her youngest grandchild. She loved being a grandma and always wanted to be around the grand children, it was her super power.
We left that day feeling wonderful, mom had enjoyed the day with two of her children and her youngest grandchild, the day could not have gone better. My brother and I didn’t even argue that day as we normally disagree on everything in life, it seemed that day we were good.
The Worst Day of my Life:
I received a call bright and early the next day from my sister. I was already up since I was preparing for work. My sister was crying and moving really fast and told me the dreaded news that mom had been taken to the hospital. She had collapsed at home with her husband and he called the ambulance, they were able to get her breathing again and she was in the ICU.
I called the job, made some other calls to siblings and headed to the hospital. They took mom to the closest hospital to her house, the one she told us she never wanted to go to, the one that my grand mother died in.
When I arrived my sister and bother’s were there and everyone was upset and worried. The doctor’s told us that mom had a massive heart attack and the only thing that was keeping her alive was the machines. They told us that we may have to make the decision to unplug her if that time arrived.
My sister and I were in shock, why now. Why mom? Could we make that decision? We waited for my sister who lived in Peoria to arrive and we all huddled together crying and praying.
It was March 17, 2009, a day that none of us will ever forget. This horrible day was burned into our memories forever.
After we got to say our peace one at a time and kiss mom for the very last time, she and God knew that a decision to unplug her would haunt us and she passed away on her own.
I was devastated, emotional, hurt, and had never felt such agony, I was 42, and cried as if I was 12. After that day, everything else became a blur. The funeral, making arrangements, I only recall that I had to do the obituary to stay sane, and not lose it, but for the most part, a blur. We all gathered at mom’s one last time to pack up her items and say goodbye. We tried celebrating her life to keep the grand kids moving forward, it was challenging.
Later on when I built our small baking business, what else would be more fitting to name it other than MsP’s. After the beauty who gave me life, love and made me who I am today! Thank you MsP for being there for me, to watch over me, to hug and kiss my pain away, and to model for me what a great mom looks like.
Rest in Heaven my Angel!
Lisa L. Marsh is Founder/CEO of MsPsGFree Inc.
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