My mama spoke from her heart in all of her speeches she gave around the world which she instilled in me through this blog. She never had a script or notes to read when she gave her speeches. So, here I am on her PC doing just that - not giving a speech but sharing...from my heart.
I am writing about how she touched me not just through her work but how she shared feelings and thoughts that were outside of her HALO - Helping and Loving Orphans non-profit organization. And I really want to share how she helped me along with all my friends and family to continue to stay sober...and even tonight as I write this.
The photo of my mama above has been one of my favorites because this was the one that always greeted me when I came down here to her office to do the entry work for all the donation checks that came in the mail for HALO. Even when she went out for her twice weekly breakfast outings or other appointments and she wasn't here, I would go ahead and do the HALO work that was waiting for me to do. The sparkle in my mama's eyes and that gorgeous smile always made me smile whether I was in a bad mood or added to my smile even more when I arrived each time here in her downstairs office. Does her photo find you smiling, too? I thought SO! :)
Since my mama's stroke on April 15th, 2013, I vowed to help care for her more than ever. I am the first to own up that I was overbearing and at times stubborn on how I wanted to care for her. In the last 6 months, I had to accept that she did not want me to treat her like she was an invalid and to let her keep her independence as best she could physically and mentally. I stressed to her that I was only being this way because I wanted to make up for loss time that I was so into my alcohol addiction and had chosen to stay away often.
She hated each time I showed up at her front door after I had had a previous full day and evening of drinking in my early addiction days. Then as time passed, I began to drink in the mornings - not your typical of 'hair of the dog'...it was more that I HAD to have it or I would have the shakes big time. And I wreaked of wine every time I saw her.
Little by little, I began to come over less and less because I did NOT want to hear her nagging and telling me about her huge disappointment in me. I, then, dreaded having to talk with her on the phone on any given day because I desperately kept trying to hide the fact that I was drinking in the morning or whenever she called even though I knew she knew. All she had to say was "You've been drinking. I will talk to you when you're sober...IF."
Those days will be with me for the rest of my life and a reminder how bad off I was. And this is WHY I wanted to always be there for her over the last two years...nothing more, nothing less.
Over time, Mama began to realize that she was not able to do the things she once could before the stroke. One of them was driving. Slowly, she allowed me to drive her to the bank, the grocery store and etc. Once she let me do that, our relationship became stronger because she trusted me and found me to be accountable. When I was drinking THAT would never have happened. It felt good to be there for her...for a change.
We started to confide in one another more and more each time we were together. Many heart to heart talks were becoming daily. Oh how I will always cherish them. We were both honest and speaking from our hearts to one another. This is what made our relationship even stronger and special. My favorite times were before and after her favorite (now mine...dang it, Mama!) soap opera 'Days of Our Lives'. We would either be upstairs talking in the kitchen at her butcher block table or in her comfortable den where we watched the soap opera. Last year, I confided her about a toxic and unhealthy relationship that I was in and was surprised to find that I was not going to get a lecture rather I got a hug and some comforting words of empathy as she helped me work through it.
It was the first time in my adult life that I was not being judged by my mother. And from there on, we bonded more and more. She shared things that I never thought she would ever share. It comforts me now that whenever I think of my mama, she really was my best friend and always will be in my heart. I talk to her as if she is still here with me...especially, when I sit down and watch 'Days of Our Lives' in her den. Everyday since her passing when I watch the soap here, I still have a good chuckle because she started to lose interest each time we watched together . She, constantly, said that there were "too many story lines" and would want to talk. We just simply enjoyed each other's company...one on one. That is another comforting thing we had with each other...just being in the same room, quietly and not feel like we had to talk all the time.
I found myself, surprisingly, not angry that my mama has left. Rather, my heart is happy that she is in a better place. And towards the end, she confided in me (and others in my family) that she was ready to go. She said over and over to me that she was at peace with being ready to go and knows that she had a very fulfilled life and wanted to leave with dignity.
It was unfortunate that we had a falling out 5 days before she had this stroke. It was a serious one that I did not want to have anything to do with her...ever and vice versa. In the past, we always made up whenever we had an argument. Not this time. I was being very stubborn and so angry at her as was she. But as I look back on it...I didn't take into account in my decision to cut off all ties with her that she was getting worse in her aging. It hurt then and still does because I wasted such negative energy being angry that I lost those 5 days with her. However, we made up when I came to her house to pick her up with my daughter, Amanda. It was Amanda's 22nd birthday. This will be ONE day I will never forget, either. The genuine apologies and forgiveness were in abundance. And...oh the hug from her was so wonderful and so heartfelt. Mama gave great hugs.
Two weeks ago, I found myself in a situation at the hospital where my mama was where I was really angry about something that was petty (it wasn't then) and I REALLY REALLY wanted to drink. I removed myself from the waiting room and took a walk. I walked past several bars by the hospital. Oh how I longed for that first drink. But, I kept walking...and walking (my bad foot was not happy about that) until I took a long and deep breath. I realized that I had better get myself to an AA meeting. I went back to the hospital and retrieved my belongings. I then drove myself to one of my favorite AA meetings that I used to attend. As I was sitting in the meeting, I was still fuming but slowly started to listen....really listen.
I heard what I truly needed to hear in that meeting. I realized that I was allowing my anger and resentment towards the situation I was in earlier to get to me. My addiction was rearing its ugly head again trying to get me to find a reason to justify having that first drink. That was my AHA moment.
What a relief to know that I could have control over my addiction...once again. I wrote a letter to the person I was angry and resentful towards and owning up to my behavior. I apologized, profusely, for lashing out at that person. I stated that I knew that my addiction was trying to get me to take that first drink by allowing my anger and resentment to be the reason to want to act on my desire to drink again. How empowered I felt that I did not give in to the desire to pick up that drink and to apologize to the recipient of my anger and resentment.
Letting go of anger and resentment allows for a more loving and peaceful life. Taking that first drink is not the answer. Take stock of the good in your life and that will truly outweigh the ruination and havoc that drinking will have in your life should you choose to go back to that horrible state where you once were.
What I take from my relationship with my mama is that she showed me how to be strong no matter how hard life can get. I had not seen myself as being strong. However, when she told me how proud she was of me on how I have been able to get sober and stay sober, I finally took that to heart and decided to write about it here.
I thank my mama for showing me the way of staying strong and to be true to myself. And I thank all my friends and family who continue to support me in my sobriety...from the bottom of my heart.-
Thank you for being my best friend, Mama...through and through. And thank you for believing in me.
May you continue to rest in peace, Mama. See you on the other side when the time comes for me to join you. I miss you but know that you are here with me in spirit and in my heart always.
I love you, Mama! xoxo