Mom, Part 1. *Warning, read at your own discretion, some content may be disturbing to some readers*
This is a really personal entry today, it is the truth as I remember it. I'm trying to write this objectively so the details are unbiased. I won't be using names, except for my mom's, who is deceased. Some details, may not be as accurate in the timeline because I was pretty young when a lot of this happened. The events, however, are as I remember them, and how they were described to me, regarding the ones I was not present for.
Some of you may know, and some of you not. My mom was a drug addict. Crack was her drug of choice and I spent most of my child/young adulthood taking care of her and trying to make her better, to get back to the mom that I remembered and loved.
Her addictions have ruined personal friendships, relationships and divided our family. There was always constant fighting and arguing, and anxiety and stress fueled the energy in our house. There was A LOT of fighting and I remember waiting to see if it would settle down on its own before I would jump in and physically put myself in between the people that were fighting and tell them to stop and leave each other alone. I couldn't understand why they were acting that way? Someone had to step in, so I "manned" up.
My earliest memories of my mom were great! She was high energy and super fun and creative. She always made my Halloween costumes and they were always amazing. She took me to gymnastics, baseball, skating lessons, Tae Kwon Do, put me in little fashion shows and brought me to work to hang out at the hair salon... She was so much fun! We went camping every summer to PEI, spent every Friday night out at the racetrack, she did my spelling homework with me every night, and didn't get too mad at me when I slammed the door in her suitors faces when they came calling. She taught me how to be strong, she was a single mom, and she showed me how to fight for what is right. She was my idol, I looked up to her. You wouldn't know it, but I still do, that mom that I just described was my hero. She would sing "Silver Bells" all year long, and it is still one of my favorites, but only the first verse.
She had energy and personality. Everyone who met her loved her because she was kind, inclusive and accommodating to everyone else's needs. She would make sure none of my friends ever felt left out and invited them often on our adventures. I had the best birthday parties, I was allowed to invite every one in my class and all the girls were allowed to sleep over afterwards. We would go swimming, and to a restaurant, or bowling or whatever. They were always well received by my peers and it made me feel special to have a mom who would do those things for me. Every summer I would go to summer camp at the Wavepool, play baseball, camping at my cottage and had an amazing childhood in a lot of aspects.
My mom worked hard to be a great mom and she was, and that is how I choose to remember her. Those early childhood years set the foundation of who I am, what I believe in, gave me the mindset to not limit myself because I am a woman, but to embrace it as a strength. She was beautiful, she would get dressed up for work or to go out and I always thought I have the most beautiful mom. She was a unicorn.
I don't think she seen herself that way though. I may never know the full details of what happened in her life before me. I do know a few, because my mom wrote. She kept diaries, notes and talked to me about it sometimes.
She was the youngest of 4 siblings, 2 boys and 2 girls. There was an age gap between my mom and the rest of her siblings. The boys typically worked and the girls helped my nan around the house. When the boys got paid they would split their earnings with the girls. My mom started babysitting at a young age, one incident she had while babysitting, while she went outside, a dog chased her on top of a car, meanwhile, someone was being murdered in the upstairs apartment where she was sitting. She told me, when she was nine, she was raped by the father of the child she was sitting for. I don't know all the details or the timeline in which all of this happened, but that was what she told me and why I was never allowed to babysit growing up. There was charges laid I believe, but no one believed her and the man who assaulted her was set free, according to my mom.
She dropped out of school in grade 7, she went to a girls school in Truro to help curb some deviant behaviors. She was doing drugs and hanging out with a well known drug family in the community. Though somehow with my grandparents guidance and support, she was able to attend hairdressing school and graduated.
There are lots of fun stories my grandfather and my aunt have told me about her making them her tests subjects, and failing, sometimes miserably. She always worked hard though, and became really good at her profession. She got her Masters license and worked at the Bay.
She got pregnant with me when she was 18, had me at 19. My father proposed to her one day when he came to pick her up at work, he had a rose and maybe? a ring? on the passenger seat of the car, and asked her to marry him. They got married, and divorced before 6 months.
My mom represented herself in court when they were fighting for custody, and did quite well. I actually found all the court documents when I was cleaning out my mom's after she passed away, but haven't read them all yet. My father tried to claim I wasn't his so that he wouldn't have to pay child support. That said, my mom moved us into my grandparents house and there we lived for about 12 years, while she worked.
My mom met a man and became pregnant with my brother when I was 7. I thought it is was great, I was always wanting a brother or a sister (even though I already had a sister that I didn't know about, that'll come later), and I was so excited to be a big sister!! I never really developed any close relationships with my brother's father or his son. His son displayed some aggressive and concerning behaviors that I couldn't understand so we were never close. My brother was born, and I remember my mom having some complications. She had cervical cancer, that had spread, and had to have a hysterectomy.
I remember that's when she started to fall into a funk, that she never seemed to be able to get out of. I remember sitting in the car in from of the bay, or in front of her boyfriends apartment and them just full on screaming at each other. They did this often, and I don't know why, but I was never upset because of it, although I knew what they were doing was wrong and sometimes felt embarrassed by it. I found myself quietly listening and trying to hear what they were yelling or screaming about. Maybe I was trying to understand? This pretty much was every Sunday for a couple of years. They eventually broke up. Though my mom was never my mom again.
When I was 12, I was volunteering at the Wavepool as a junior leader for the daycamps. One night my mom came into my room and she seemed so sad. She never really tucked me in anymore, but kissed me and hugged me and told me she loved me and left the room after fixing my blankets. These actions were so strange to me, because when she said goodnight, she said my name. She called me Terri-Anne, not Trouble or Squirt.
I didn't go to camp the next day. I just had a feeling telling me not to go. My grandmother told me to go downstairs and wake my mom up because she was going to be late for work. I tried but nothing. Mom was working at a new salon and was missing a lot of time there. That morning the salon called and I had to lie and tell them my mom was sick, and couldn't come to the phone. I could tell that they were upset.
It was noon and my grandmother asked me again to go and try to wake up my mom, it wouldn't be unusual for her to sleep in, take about 4-6 extra strength Tylenol and pass out because she had a "migraine." So I venture downstairs, and mom is sleeping in her waterbed and it's then I noticed the empty pill bottles on the floor, and it clicks. I seen them the first time I went downstairs, but thought they were probably just pills that she had run out of and never got refilled. I went upstairs and told my nan and she panicked and went down to check up on her. I could hear her yelling, then screaming, at my mom saying, "Paula, wake up!!" She hurried back upstairs and I watched her call 911 as my brother played beside me on the living room floor, as I sat on the couch. My grandfather walks in the door for lunch and my grandmother tells him what is going on, turns to me and asks if I can take my brother into my bedroom before the ambulance gets there. So I did what I was told, and took my brother, 4, into my room to play and closed the door.
There I watched out the window, sitting on my bed, and listened to the sirens coming down the road and seeing the ambulance park outside at the top of the driveway. I heard the front door open and my grandmother giving the direction to go downstairs, that she was in the bed. Time passes, and they can't wake up my mom. They get the gurney out from the back of the ambulance and I hear them bring it in through the front door. I don't know how they got mom in it, but I heard them upstairs and I ran out of my room and stood in the hallway and watched as they wheeled her out the front door, unconscious, medical supplies and their wrappers all over the floor. Some family came over to support my grandmother, everyone was crying, but me. I just don't really think I understood what was going on, and was watching everyone else's reactions and thought that they needed me to be strong and support them. So I didn't cry, I didn't feel the need to, I hugged my nan and my grandfather and sat quietly in the kitchen keeping an eye on my brother. I remember my nan saying that she didn't know why she (my mom) would do this, or that she (my nan) knew something was wrong but didn't think that my mom would try to kill herself.
No one ever talked to me about what happened, but it is one of the most powerful and strongest memories I have. I'm not sure if some of my closest friends are even aware of what happened that day. I think though, that was a huge turning point for me. My mom needed me to take care of her now, and I think I always knew that day was coming; since the days where I broke up fights, physical and verbal, between my mom and family members, to when I sat in the car with my brother countless times waiting for the screaming to stop and mom to come back so I could make everything ok, and make her feel better. I tried to be the perfect child so my mom didn't have to worry about me, because I would take care of her.
I'll leave that there for now, some heavy stuff I know. There is much more but I don't want to skip out on details just to try to get this finished.
Holy that was a lot.