Thursday, May 16, 2013

Orphans -- The Story of Us

The hard truth of life is that almost all of us will become orphans. I'm not talking about little children wandering the streets looking for someone to take them in. I'm talking about us -- all of us.

Except for those few who will die before one or both parent, the majority of us will end up as orphans.

Okay, that is kind of a strange thought for me to throw out there, but there it is. We all will end up alone. For those of us who have not had good relationships with our parents this may be no real big deal. If your parents were horrible and abusive this may even seem like good news.

For most of us this will be a gut-wrenching realization. No mommy, no daddy. It is not about who is going to take care of us now in the physical sense. It is a level of emotional support that is suddenly missing from our lives.

For the last couple of years of her life I had to do quite a bit to help Mom keep going. I would buy her groceries every week and would put most of them away. I would take her to doctor's appointments. Most of all I would listen. She was trying to write a book of her life during the Depression and so she was moved to tell me all sorts of stories that were cropping up because of that.

I can't really tell you what many of the stories were about because she was easily drawn off-topic into tangential areas. This happened often enough that I sometimes didn't bother to try to follow the story, but would let her ramble through the past. I usually did these conversations by phone so that I could take care of stuff on the computer, chop vegetables, or go through the mail.

We were best friends as well. She was also the biggest fan of my writing. So when she passed away it left a huge hole in my life. My father had passed 13 years previously so there was nowhere else to really turn. I am an orphan.

I do still have my step-mother, but, as Cinderella taught us, that is not always the best option. Though she is a kind-hearted woman, she is not the best at communicating that -- or many other things. She is rather judgmental and not afraid to voice those thoughts. Based on what my father would tell her about my mother, she could not stand my mother and would tell me as often as possible. For example, she once told me that my mother had never wanted me. I knew the truth behind the statement that she undoubtedly did not and ignored it. So this is not a place to find the support I am now missing.

When my mother passed away my step-mother first said that she wouldn't help me clean out her old apartment, but next thing I knew, there she was helping out. Perhaps her curiosity got the better of her, but I really appreciated her help (and that of her current husband). At one point she was trying to be supportive (in her way) and she started to congratulate me on no longer having my mother. It was coming out wrong and she stopped herself, but I knew where she was going. She wanted to acknowledge that the positive side of this situation was that I would no longer need to spend so much time taking care of my mother.

My step-siblings are a great source of support. They are better and communication than their mother, and have not placed judgment on my mother or my relationship with her. The possible exception to this is my step-sister who had had the opportunity to get to know my mother a little bit before my father and stepmother ever met. So she knows my mother was a good woman with a kind heart.

I also have some great friends who are a huge source of support. Wonderful as they are, there is just no one who can REALLY take the place of your parents in your life. Your parents have been around in one way or another all of your life. They taught you all the basics to get going in life -- you know, all that walking and talking business. You were a hero to them when you started using the potty on your own.

All of that history is exactly that now -- history. There are no future chapters to be written unless Mom or Dad start haunting the house. Now when I really want my mommy I can't even pick up the phone.

The time has really come when "You can't go home again."

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