Monday, June 13, 2005

I'm not in Kansas anymore

Last week I found a stack of letter’s that my mother had saved through out her life. For any of you that don’t know, my mother is dying of Alzheimer’s disease.

My mother started showing symptoms soon after I graduated from high school. When I was a teenager and child my mother and I were never very close, I would get so frustrated because we were so different.

I know that a lot of girls that have bad relations, with their mothers in their teenager years, learn to appreciate their mother as a fellow adult in their twenties. I never had that. When I was old enough to see that I needed her, and I wanted to know what she was like as a person. She was already fading to the point that was no longer possible.

In a way, I never really knew my Mother as a person; she was never forthcoming about her past. What I did know is that she was different than most women. She was to scared to drive a car, leave the house as I grew, she never went shopping or spent time on her hair and make up. I had to learn those things on my own. When I was old enough to understand the importance of these things, I was only angry that she never taught me to be a female.

Knowing my Grandmother for a few years before she died, I knew she was a vibrant adventurous artist that radiated beauty wherever she went. Because of this I never understood my Mom. Didn’t she have my Grandmother to teach her?

One of the letter’s was from my Grandmother to my Mom during her 1st (and only) year of college in 1959. She was chastising my Mother for her changing so much. Her letter was questioning my mother for going from straight A’s to failing all her classes. She couldn’t understand why my mother went from being happy and bright to never leaving her room.

I was shocked when I read this, because it seemed as my mother changed dramatically in such a way that only usually happens with a trauma. When I questioned my Father about the letter he told me a secret that my mother kept from everyone but him. A trauma had happened to her that was fatal in that time, especially in rural Kansas where she grew up.

My mother was real, flawed and I never really met her.

After reading that letter I took some time to locate her best friend from Jr. High through college. Since she still lived in the same town. (Rexford, Kansas) Where my Mother lived until her late twenties, where my grandfather was the superintendent of schools, where my Grandmother painted murals. Where I had I decided to go there and see if I could find out whom my mother really was, before this trauma affected her life so severely. Since it’s only a four-hour drive from one of the major airports I fly to, I made car rental reservations for the day I finished work. Unfortunately, I not only was aware it was tornado season; I also didn’t check the weather forecast. Since I was headed straight into “Tornado Alley” that would’ve been a wise thing.

Coming soon: what happened on my trip to Kansas, Dorothy has nothing on me…and searching for my mother while surrounded by tornado’s.


BonikaStJames said...

Teresa, I am almost in tears already. I'm really interested in what you have to say here. I've known you and your mom for a while and appreciate your willingness to share this story.

Happy freaking birthday by the way!

Necessary2 said...

Yes, thanks for sharing. I enjoy the way you write.

jonny ragel said...

do tell, dear. you know I'm in the fan club. and if you don't know that yet shame on you. muchlove to you.

secret agent josephine said...

The suspense is killing me!

fin said...

great post. thanks for writing it.

Flyingwaitress said...

did i say college? I meant high school. I never really went to collage :-)c

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