It was early this morning when the song popped in my head…
“Tie a yellow ribbon ’round the old oak tree. It’s been three long years. Do you still miss me?”
And not just the normal chorus version, but the jazzy ad lib outro of the song. At first, my musicology background corrected the lyrics to “Do you still want me?” but then I remembered that my mom always told me when a song pops into your head like that, there’s usually a meaning for it. It wasn’t hard to figure it out.
Today was my mom’s birthday and it’s been three years since I lost her to cancer. She would have been 56 today.
Now a lot of people think I didn’t love her because we fought all the time. But it wasn’t that I didn’t love her – I have always loved her deeply. I just hated the drug-dependent person she became later in life and that’s what we fought about.
To me, my mom will always be the deeply passionate, insanely talented artist who taught me it was ok to be smart and strong and most importantly, myself, no matter what other people said.
But it still frustrates me that she constantly surrounded herself with people who enabled her to do her drugs and who encouraged her alcoholism. Pisses me off that she always chose relationships with men who beat her and cut her down and told her she was good for nothing. She could have been a world famous artist or anything she wanted, but she chose to do the drugs and numb herself with them.
Now I know I’m no saint. I’ve had my issues with alcohol when I’ve been super depressed, but I’ve never been completely dependent on it and I’ve never thrown my life away in search of the next fix. But to watch this amazingly intelligent and talented woman just waste her life away on this shit was more than I could handle. Even towards the end, she still wouldn’t give up her cigarettes and pot and alcohol and god knows what else. And it’s hard to watch your own mother self-destruct and know that no matter what you said to her, it would just end up in a big argument where she would deny she had any problem at all and that is was me that had the problem because I wouldn’t do that stuff.
But of course, to everyone else, it was all my fault because I didn’t love her enough.
It’s been three long years since she passed away and I still miss her to no end. Even with the anger and the frustration, she has always and will always have a big chunk of my heart. And nothing anybody says can take away how I truly felt about her.
Mom, wherever you are, I hope you are in a good place with gramma and Michael. And today I celebrate your life, for the short time I had to share it with you. You are a big reason I am the person I am today and I will always love you.
PS: Here’s a few of my favorite pieces of art that mom did that I could find photos for. You can view the rest of it at Webshots. The image above is also a self-portrait my mom did before she got sick.
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