Thursday, June 28, 2012

Hiding in the Hamper

I can still remember the smell of dirty cloths when I dug deep into them, making myself as small as possible, trying to become invisilbe, when my mother was on a rampage. This was before the days when I would step between my sister and my mom, before my little brother was born, the days they don't recall my mother's rages and days I will never forget. The hamper could not have been more than the size of small washing machine. It had a hinged door for dropping in dirty cloths that sprung shut, snapping at fingers as it took the deposits of shirts, sheets, and dirty socks. These were the very things that I hugged to make me disappear only occationally peeking between the slit where the angry snapping door allowed some light and visual down the hall.

I could hear her angry march before I saw her and usually she would be cussing like my Uncle Bill, that was quite a vocabulary of dirty words for a woman in the 1950's. I would head to the hamper when I heard a tone in her voice, if it wasn't aimed at me, I didn't want to find myself in her sights. If I was not near the hamper, I would run outside and climb into the dog's house. Another story for a another day.

My mom had very dark moods at times and they errupted in fits of rage that on at least two occations sent me to the emergency room and resulted in new caps on two teeth. I loved my mom, I still do, but her moods were unpredictable, at least to me, until she finlly left us all and moved to another state for two years. When she returned, she was better, happier. She was divorced and starting a new profession, as she completed college while she was gone. This is the mother I try to recall when I think about her. The one that sang, danced and was beautiful. The one that would fix tomatoe soup and put a cool cloth on my head when I was ill. The one that on occation, said, "I love you" and I actually belived it most the time.

After I was an adult and moved away, I got a long letter from her when I was in my 30's. She told me a story of watching chickens when she had to gather eggs and in particular, mother hens that had many chicks. She described squating in a dusty area in the corner of the pen to see if the chicks would come up to her but they stayed with their momma chick. She began to notice momma chickens had a tendency to reject one little chick, to the point of pecking it away from the rest of the chicks and herself, at time harming the little chick. My mom told me I had been that baby chick for her. She didn't know why and didn't know how to fix it but did want me to know she was sorry for all the times she hurt me and didn't comfort me when she knew it was what I needed.

I saved that letter. I pull it out when I am in a dark place because it still means so much to me. My mother's mind is gone, my beautiful dancing mom who would sing when she was happy, she is gone. All I relly have is that letter and when I pulled it out last month, the words had faded to where I can only make out a few sentences. My heart is broken. This post was going to be about the loss of my father but somehow, my fingers found the keys typing about my mom.

I am happy that my last memories of my mother are the nice ones and I fight to keep the horror of her fists and hair pulling off to the side where we all put things painful, in the hope it will eventually disappear.

I don't think I want to completely forget that part of my mother, she helped to make the person I am today, along with the rest of my family, and I am forever grateful to her for giving when she felt she had so little of herself to give.

I can't proof read this, won't read it again so forgive so many errors in spelling and grammer, as I am sure there are many, but the spirit of my message today was that I honor my mother, even with the bad times, and I miss her dancing and singing most of all.


  1. Oh, so poignant! And very generous of spirit to honor a person, not in spite of her "flaws," but with all of them in tow. This moves me.

  2. After readying your comment, I was brave enough to read my post. Thank you Penny. That felt like a gift.