Today it has been 31 years since my mother passed away. Well, this is the date we mark, though the stroke she had four days earlier is actually the day she died. That week still replays in my mind like a bad movie. I remember the phone call, the flight to Kentucky. Then the walk into her hospital room and all that came afterward like it was last week. I wish August had met my mom.
My mom was an amazing woman. A force, many of those who knew her might have said. She’d been an English teacher which I have often said is how I’ve become a writer. It may be genetic. In fact she’d just quit a very high-paying and powerful job at a prestigious advertising agency to write a book at the time of her death. She’d gotten a computer and a printer and learned to print envelopes the week prior. The week she died everyone she knew got letters! She was a fierce feminist and as opinionated as they come. There was never a doubt where my mom stood on an issue.
As I’m working with my younger son on his applications and the processes of looking at college for next year, I remember going through that with my mom. She took me on as a project. We discussed all the colleges and looked at all the “paper” brochures that arrived in the mail. I remember her feminist hackles being raised at a brochure that featured a picture of the college president and his wife. She got annoyed that his wife was in the picture. I learned later that college President’s wives have a very important role but my mom thought that was ridiculous.
When I got my sights set on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill my mother wouldn’t pay to let me apply. She didn’t think I could get in. She made me write them a letter outlining my qualifications and asking if I had a chance. I was mortified. Amazingly enough they wrote back. They said while my SAT scores were on the low side (for their acceptance criteria), my grades and extracurricular activities were excellent. They said make sure I stress that. That must have been good enough because she let me apply. Thank goodness I got in!
As RAD parents we are constantly searching for any tip, trick, tool, therapist, pill or magic bullet. We desperately want our children happy and healthy and whole. And we can’t stand to see them hurting and our families in disarray by the illness that is reactive attachment disorder. But we know that there is no magic bullet. The horrible trauma that our sweet children endured as babies and toddlers has left damage and scars that no quick cure can heal.
However, today I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of difference having my mom in his life might have made for August. There is the fact that I wish she had met my children and they her, which is a sadness I will always have. My mom would not have put up with a lot of August’s mess. I can imagine her going to battle beside me to figure out what he needs and how to help him. She would not put up with his yelling and vandalism and stealing and manipulation. She might have been the opposite and equal reaction he needed. I could imagine having sent him to live with her and having an altar boy come back!
Now I know that’s a dream and it’s unlikely it would have turned out like that. It’s also just as likely it would have turned out just like it is today. But I wish August had met my mom. And I will always wish he had the benefit of her wisdom and intelligence and love. I know she would have showered all that on my fragile, sweet boy. And would it have made a difference? Well, I think there a lot of people who think having known Bonnye Friend Miller, their lives are richer for it. I know having her for a mom made all the difference in my life. So I wish August had met my mom.
Until next time,