"Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity." ~ Gilda Radner

Sunday, October 21, 2012


Dear Mom,
Thinking of you.
Forty-three years ago today.
Remembering with perfect clarity the moment the school secretary showed up at my junior high study hall door, beckoning me to follow her to the office where Dad and Sissy tearfully broke the news to me, just three days before I was to turn 13, that you had died.
An accidental overdose of alcohol and sleeping pills, the coroner report later stated.
Accidental? Perhaps. Though looking back it was probably no secret to anyone who knew you that you had been on a path of self-destruction for quite some time.
At the ripe, young age of 47 you were not happy in your marriage and overwhelmed by your nursing home management job. You turned to alcohol to cope, and -- like many unhappy 60s housewives -- had been prescribed barbiturates by your doctor to ease the depression and anxiety that regularly crippled your daily functioning.
You had lost all hope of your life every being better. You had, it seems, lost your sense of self. You had lost your smile.
Beer and barbiturates as antidote for the impossible sadness and worry that poisoned your otherwise affable, laughing, loving Jeanne B. spirit?
A deadly combination. But apparently you were, for various reasons, at your wit's end and could see nothing but self-medication as your only way through, if not out.

Like the proverbial itsy, bitsy spider crawling up the waterspout, you were, in that final late October moment, washed out by life's rain.

And that is how you looked, the morning of Oct. 20, 1969, sprawled on the living room floor, eyes closed, a spilled glass of beer by your outstretched hand.

"Should we call an ambulancce" I asked my father, who was calmly shaving in the bathroom, as if it were just another fall morning.

"She'll be fine," he said. "Go on to school."

So, though frightened, I did as Dad instructed. I left you there, on the living room floor, and caught the bus.

You died the next day.

As your adolescent daughter, teetering on the delicate cusp between childhood and young womanhood, I didn't get it. Could not fathom the extent of your pain, the depth of your loneliness.
Could only feel my pain, my loss, as you were laid to rest on my 13th birthday. I was devastated. And years later, in my 30s, when I could finally admit it with the help of a counselor, I was extremely angry at you for abandoning me. You just disappeared from my life, without explanation, without a goodbye.

And I was angry at myself for not staying by your side, for not insisting that Dad call an ambulance.
Today, three days before my 56th birthday, I want you to know, Mom, that I so get where you were coming from. So understand how it can happen that an otherwise affable, laughing, loving woman, wife and mother, for various reasons, can one day find herself slipping down her life's raindrop-beaten water spout into the never-to-return depths of loneliness, depression and anxiety.
And, while yesteryear's beer and barbiturates may have been replaced by martinis and Xanax as a woman's self-medication of choice, I, in my 11th hour, was fortunate enough to have been presented with a healthier choice. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
It was a tough, life-changing decision. And it was with the love and support of family and friends, I made it.
I chose light.
Each dawn that I watch yet another beautiful Myrtle Beach sunrise, I give even greater thanks for this new lease on my life.
Mom, I feel your love and happiness for me in every ray as I continue to grow in the warmth of the South Carolina sun and re-discover my smile, the inner grin that you never had the chance to find.
Itsy Bitsy Spider by Carly Simon on GroovesharkI love you. I forgive you.
I am learning to love and forgive myself, as well.


Out come the sun, and dried up all the rain, and the itsy, bitsy spider crawled up the spout again.

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