Moms Owed Plenty
Thank you for the Boyleing Points “Mother’s Day” article, “Owed More Than A Day” (5/5/15). It touched upon feelings that were only half-buried during the years and decades of my life. In the early 1950s when I was three months into being 8 and in the third grade of elementary school, my brother, sister, and I lost our father Eugene to the curse of alcohol abuse. It was Christmas Eve, December 1953.
There was no heat in our home, no food in the fridge, and no presents under the tree. When the bars closed at 3 a.m., Dad came staggering home with more broken promises and no money in his pockets. My mother, who wished to believe that the children still mattered to him, who still believed in the power of prayer and the mercy of God, was sadly disappointed. An argument ensued that turned this man into an angry drunk. He, in his rage threw our prize, a black and white TV where my brother and I watched cartoons, out the window.
In our beds, under the blankets, Kathleen, Vincent, and I could hear the crying, the accusations, and his yelling back, “To be left alone.” He then picked up a kitchen chair and smashed it on the table. My mother was a short 5’3” Italian lady who had been warned about the Irish. Though they are cute, handsome, charming beyond belief, there is in their nature a brutish violence that could erupt at any time. Excessive alcohol was the poison that turned this big lug, my dad, into a nasty drunk.
That night my mother put my winter coat over my “Superman” pajamas, over my brother’s “Mickey Mouse” PJs, and over my sister’s princess nightgown. Mother, pregnant with her fourth child, then took us to her friend’s house next door who was awakened by the crash of the TV. She borrowed some money and we took a cab to Grandma’s home. Grandma Rose gathered us to her bosom with kisses and words of comfort. When she put us to bed, the nightmare of that Christmas Eve was over. It was Christmas Day and I felt safe.
From that point on, we were fatherless children with the stigma of shame that we had failed. Everyone else in the neighborhood, everyone else in my life at that time seemed to have a happy 1950s TV family. Ma, Pa, and some kids. I felt the pain of that loss then and sometimes I still do, but from that day on my mother, bless her, became the lioness that would bare her fourth child, find a job, feed us, clothe us, all while she modestly held her head up above the shame of a broken marriage. She may have felt alone, at times overwhelmed, but she was our hero, our Wonderwoman.
All four of us went on to college, marriages, careers and lives where we coped with the storms of life with brave hearts. My mother taught us how to find happiness in a world that can be unkind. She did this by showing us how to love and be loved. Years later, we rewarded her with eight grandchildren, babies that were like puppies – curious and adorable.
So on this Mother’s Day, Kevin, as you remember the loss of your father when you were 11 years old and celebrate your mother’s struggles, strength, and her courage as she cared for her six children, I too say, as you wrote, Mothers are “Owed More Than A day.”
Your words have the power to inspire. Thank you. (If published, my name may not be used. Sign it, Anonymous)