my mother, the saint

In light of Mother’s day, I figured I would share my mother’s story with you.

When I was a kid, I could sit and listen to my mother’s stories for hours and hours, asking questions to know more and more about the depth of it all.

My mother wasn’t keen on the idea of sharing her past with me at first. Her past isn’t a story that is full of rainbows and unicorns. She’s lived a hard life, all her life. Her life has been strange. Sad. Heartbreaking, even.

My mother’s story is a story that needs to be shared.

I don’t know everything, but I will share what I know.

Starting as far back as I can recall…

My mother has many siblings. If I recall correctly, there were five of them altogether. My mother, who we shall here on out refer to as Beth, was the oldest. Beth’s father (Jim) was a busy, busy man. Often out of town for business. Beth’s mother (let’s call her Marge, because I don’t know her name) was…. engaged in some nasty habits.

Beth’s family was low on the social income scale. They would get food stamps, but Marge would sell those stamps to the highest bidder. She would then proceed to use that money to supply herself with her drugs. Needless to say, this left Beth’s family in a bit of financial trouble.

One day, when Beth was around 13 years old, Marge rounded all the kids up and took them to an abandoned train yard. She gave them each a peanut butter sandwich and some juice boxes and told them to wait there. She said that she was going to find a job and would be back as soon as she could.

That was the last time Beth saw her mother.

They waited there for three days, carefully rationing as much as they could. They were a bunch of kids, so what else could they do but sit and try to wait for their mother? They didn’t know where they were.

When they finally couldn’t take it anymore, my mother was the one to stand up and take responsibility. She rallied up her siblings and together, they followed the tracks to the nearest town, where they then found a police station so Beth could call her father.

Fast forward three years.

Her father is remarried to someone names Judy.

I don’t like Judy. I still don’t like Judy.

Beth would wake up at 4 AM every morning to go to a part time job. I believe she babysat for a woman near her high school that was a nurse. The nurse worked the night shift, and when the father would leave for his work, Beth would go in to make sure the child was safe and got up in time for school. After that, the nurse would return, and Beth would rush to make it to her own school in time.

At school, Beth maintained straight As with a 4.0 GPA. She was first chair flute. She was popular.

After school, she would go to her other part time job as a waitress.

Meanwhile, Beth’s father was sent to fight in Vietnam. His new, young wife, Judy, stayed at home with the kids, including Beth, who she was not fond of.

See, Judy was young. Too young to have a daughter as old as Beth. This caused tension between the two. While Beth was trying to be a good daughter for Judy, Judy had no intention of getting along with Beth. Eventually, she couldn’t handle being in the same house with Beth and did the unspeakable.

One day, Judy took the few belongings Beth had and threw them into the yard. She dragged Beth out of the house (literally) by her hair, telling her to get out and never come back. The then proceeded to call Beth’s father and tell him that Beth was doing drugs and sleeping around, claiming that that was the reason that she kicked Beth out.

Beth had nowhere else to go. She ended up moving in with her high school counselor. She stayed there until she actually came into contact with Judy’s older sister, Sandy.

Sandy is very different from Judy. While Judy is the copy of the Evil Queen from Snow White, Sandy is like… an over –protective mother figure. Very strict, but still loving.

Sandy had a son of her own, but it seems like she wanted a daughter. She took in Beth, taking good care of her until Beth was old enough to live on her own.

When I was a freshman in high school, my mother finally found the contact information for her biological mother, Marge.

My mother couldn’t bring herself to hit “Call” on her cell phone. She got her friend to call for her.

Her friend called, and a man answered. The friend asked to speak with Marge, and the man went silent for a moment. He then asked, “May I ask who is calling?”

Apparently, Marge had died five years prior. She had cleaned up and was sober, but her past had taken a huge toll on her body. She had talked about my mother constantly, said the man.

The man was Marge’s husband. He had witnessed her die. She had gotten sick because of her insides were shutting down from the years of drugs.

According to her husband, she had talked about my mother until her dying breath, regretting leaving her and her siblings on the tracks.

That was the closing of a major chapter in my mother’s life.

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