when parents fall off their pedestal

I don’t know why for sure totally, but I always am anxious to make sure people know that I loved my mother before I share stories like this one. Even though you guys do not know my real name, its not left wisdom (LOL), and even if you did, my mother has been gone so long and from a location that you aren’t likely to have to even care about, it should be unimportant.

I think it is because i was told all my early years “not to tell anybody”. Great uncle Johnny drank a lot and once chased his own brother around the house threatening to kill him, as an adult. It was ok to share that information, even laugh about it, in the family. However, nobody else was supposed to be told because “they will think less of us…they will think we are trash too”.

Yes, my mother had a very clear way of thinking. If you did the right things (didn’t drink cuss, chew tobacco or work on sunday), you were a good person worthy of love from God and your neighbors. If, however, you committed any of those sins, or for heavens sakes had sex without marriage, you were worthless trash and bound for hell. So imagine a family member doing any of those things and people outside the famiy knowing it…..unacceptble.

Honesty was always a big part of this. I was led to understand that I was in all situaions not only to tell the truth but tell ALL the truth….TO HER. She once asked me if I “spent too much’ on a new suit. Now bear in mind this was AFTER I had moved to another city and was working to pay my own bills.

Now the circumstances were that I had found a sale, and two suits for about 150.00.That was not my definition of “too much” so I simply answered the question that she asked by saying “no’.

Now later that evening we were gathered round my uncles living room, and it occurred to me I am not sure why, to brag to my aunt, who I adored and thought was the coolest woman alive, that I had gotten the suits for 75 dollars each.

You would have thought I had just killed somebody in cold blood right in front of her by my mothers reaction. I am not sure how much sleep I got that night, but it was a lot less than I should have gotten. I got to hear how horrible a child I was since I had made her look like a fool for not knowing how much I paid for said suits.

Now, first of all, before my mother went berserk about it, there was no way anybody would have known she didn’t already know. She could have simply sat there and not said anything and they wouldn’t have thought anyhing about it, but her anger made the information come out of her mouth about the fact that she didn’t know. So, in my opinion, then and now, any embarressment she felt was self-inflicted.

Obviously my assertions that I answered the question she asked, just as she asked it, didnt get me out of any hot water. Her response to that is “you knew what I wanted to know”. Well, at one time i would have said “no I didn’t” but over time, I decided that she might just be right. Maybe I did ignore her “real question” because I just didn’t want to get into it all with her. She had a tendency to make everything about her.

Now so far we have learned that I was expected not only to tell the truth, but all the details, even details that didn’t necesarily follow from the acual queston asked.

Now lets move to Mom and her honesty, and ‘falling off pedresdral”.

Briefly, the fact of my mothers generation is that the older brother (oldest of 7) was not trustworthy to pay bills. In fact he wrote bad checks, forged on his fathers account several times. Since the entire family was convinced he was mentally deficit, it was decided that the larger of the two properties across the street from one another would be sold upon my grandfather’s death, and the proceeds given to the heirs…except this oldest brother.

The oldest brother got a “life residency” on the smaller property. In essense he was unable to sell it, preventing his poor life choices from depriving him of a house….grandfather couldn’t stand the idea of his son being homeless. At the time of that one of my uncles death, the property would revert to the remaining siblings.

Mom expressed great sympathy for her brother‘s’ two children, unable to inherit or benefit from their fathers part of homestead or so I clearly remember from several converstions I was party to. In addition, she was adamand that she didn’t want her name on there as one of the heirs.

So everbody, including me, my cousins and their mother thought, when plans were made to go to the lawyer, one that my uncles family picked out if I recall, that my mother was ‘deeding” her share to the kids.

A few years go back. My uncle dies. It comes to my attention that the property was sold and all the money was devided between the remaining siblings except for my mother whose name had been removed in the mentioned visit to the lawyer.

I couldn’t understand this and started asking quesitons like “ok momma I understand you didn’t get anything, but even though it might be an extremely small amount, my cousins should have gotten a little bit”. I don’t remember any answer to that quetion at first or even for a long time.

I started insisti ng that it was our duty, for my cousins sakes, to inquire. I mean what kind of underhanded thing had these greedy 4 or 5 done? I decided that they must have found a way to take all the expenses out of the children share, somehow. I knew that was wrong. It should have been devided across all the ‘shares’.

And then suddenly one day my mother slipped up and told me something she had never told me before and I was devastated. My mother, the woman who made me feel like a piece of trash if i didnt tell ALL of the truth, every detail, had misled me, her sister-in-law and her nephew and niece.

While we were thinking “wow, now these poor kids are going to be getting some token of their father’s hometead that they lived their entire life in, what my mother signed off on, using a lawyer that I had thought had been picked by the other parties, was simply taking her name off, so that if my uncle failed to pay any more of the taxes, and the family was asked to help, there would be no question of her being asked to contribute.

I understood and understand why she wanted “out of this mess” as she had often described it, but to get out by misleading those who had been led to believe she was on their side, i saw as a betrayal. It explained so much. It explained why my cousin that i used to be fairly close too, had no interest in talking to me…actually seemed to be avoiding me.

My mother’s actions had confirmed her mother’s belief that our family couldn’t be trusted and were out to ‘get her and her children’.

I still feel a bit hurt when I am reminded, as I was tonight going through the papers stored in my mother Bible when i saw the actual words that she intended to use to diverse herself of involvement.

For years, I had hoped that perhaps my mother was unaware enough of legal matters that she was tricked by the lawyers, and after realizing what she had actually done felt it necessary to stay the course. However that piece of paper shows that she PLANNED what happened and knowingly misled all of us…including me.

The frame work of all this is old enough that the sting is a lot less than it was when the details started being unveiled but I still find it oddly ironic and upsetting that the same person that was so highly upset by any detail left off of an answer provided her, even a detail not implied to anybody but her in the question, was at the same time capable of misleading several members of her own family in getting what she wanted without giving them what they wanted out of the deal.

But then, that just shows that oftentimes, we don’t know what another person is capable of, for whatever reasons they might have and I don’t believe for moment that mom didn’t think she was totally justified. I just didn’t and still don’t buy any justification that I can think of that she might have been using.

66 and retired, and living my dream free, knowing that only by working with a union am I fortunate enough to be able to be where I am.