I am thankful that my mother raised me to be fairly self-assured. When I was a baby in the Big Apple, it was just her, me, and Dad after five years of marriage. Oh, yeah, and Dad’s brother (my godfather) and his wife. Then Dad joined the Army and got stationed as a military surgeon in Oklahoma and San Antonio, where Mom dealt with being a military wife and mother.
And she taught me to love reading. We still like some of the same authors: Clavell, Tolkein, McCaffrey, MZ Bradley, CS Lewis, L’Engle. From there, I branched out into David Eddings, Stephen King, Frank Herbert, Ayn Rand, Katherine Kurtz, Robert Zelazny, Michael Moorcock, Morgan Lewellyn, Douglas Adams, and Robin Hobb.
Mom dove into Edgar Cayce psychics when I was very young. She actually had an audiocassette tape done for me, of a heavily accented psychic channeling what my past lives were, what my destiny was, and some symbols to keep around and ways to encourage my potential. I still like my symbols, and may make a mandala just for kicks someday. It was so psychodelic. Of course, I was a history teacher when Atlantis fell! Of course, I was a Mother Superior in 13th century France, and my mother and sisters were among my convent! We gals have always been together, the fate of our souls are entwined for all eternity! And we will all play a significant role in each other’s souls’ steps toward … whatever the goal is!
From my psychic reading, I think Mom took the role reversal theme to heart. Mom needed me, as a preschooler, to take on the role of the hero child. I helped take care of her through two difficult pregnancies, helped deal with my sisters (one autistic, the other just funny), covered for her substance abuse and some other bad choices (SO seventies!), and later helped her stabilize through a “certifiable” episode, coping mechanisms gone awry, an abusive stalking ex (not my father, just someone she met through a 12-step program).
She struggled hard through her own family baggage, through the changing roles of women over the last few decades, and through the consequences of some bad habits and decisions.
Mom is one of the kindest people you will ever meet. In my opinion, too kind. She believes she has special powers, and indeed she virtually radiates a generous welcome. One that attracts strays of all species. Mostly cats and unworthy men (again, excluding my dad). But when you have no boundaries, and offer all of yourself, there are predators who will take it all, and more. The emptiness and consequences that are left make it difficult to fill your life with wholesome things. Thank goodness for the community she found in a church.
I have to say I have learned a lot from her, and I am thankful for her part in my making. But she is also somewhat of an anti-heroine. I would not follow in her footsteps. She has taught me to be risk-averse, while more ambitious.
But she’s sober. She’s working. She moved to a city where she has friends and a friendlier church. I’m proud of my mom for making strides.