Wednesday, October 8, 2008
My Mother's Day Pearls
Aren't pearls intriguing?
When you see a strand of pearls, the first thought that comes to my mind, and yours too perhaps is, "Are they real or really fake?"
Or, perhaps you may just go about your lives, never really thinking about pearls and their unique and distinctive existence.
I can remember one day after church three years ago. I was sitting in the passenger seat while we drove away from church. My mascara running down my face like the dark gloom of a loss. As I pulled the visor down to try to take a deep breath and wipe the teared streaks from my face, I saw my strand of pearls innocently hanging around my neck. I had put them on for a special occasion that day. After almost a year of overcoming a severe bout of depression, Fred and Sienna were taking me out for Mother's Day brunch. In the past, I had always planned special Mother's Day outings for our mothers but this year, I was finally learning to try to take care of myself and not worry about everyone else as much.
The spring-like buds tried to color the scenery but the winter's wear of salt-stained streets was still upon us. That day, I was feeling a little claustrophobic in the pews so I decided to get a breath of fresh air. Since my recent struggles with depression, I was still withdrawn and being in crowds only made me more self-aware of my loneliness. I had left church a little early while Fred and Sienna stayed until the service ended and met me in the car parked along the EL tracks. While I was waiting, I decided to phone my mother to wish her a Happy Mother's Day.
Although it was late morning, my mother was still in bed, as usual. She was such a glutton. I fought with my judgmental voices every moment I was around her. That day was no exception. Anyway, we made some small talk and then I told her that I wanted to call her to wish her a Happy Mother's Day. There was a pregnant pause. Then I asked her what she was going to do for the day. She replied, "Nothing. I don't go out on Mother's Day. Mother's Day is the worst day of the year for me."
Trying not to pick up the rope and play a nasty game of tug a war with her, I kindly said my farewell and hung up the phone. And then, that is when I turned on the mascara flood. I tried to take a deep breath and regain my composure as I heard the church bells ring and knew any minute my beloved husband would be walking hand in chubby hand with my curly haired Sienna.
As they got in the car and buckled up and I glanced at my string of pearls in the mirror. They were imperfect but they were real. All through college I wore them proudly. I would even tell my friends that they were my grandmother's. My mom gave them to me shortly after my grandmother passed away. They were one of the only things my mother had given me that wasn't from the Dollar Store or KMart. I think I remember my mom telling me that Grandma had selected the oysters herself on one of her vacations. As a child I thought that was amazing.
As a child, I thought my grandmother was amazing. She used to bring me a large stuffed animal, usually a monkey every time she'd come to visit. My mom would invite her to come and stay with me while my mom traveled the world with her boyfriends. By the time I was about nine though, I realized how abusive and awful my grandmother was. She was a mean drunk. When she would come to visit, my mom would hide and lock all of our liquor in a suitcase. It didn't matter that my mom would hide her own liquor though. Grandma Helen would just have me bring in the special sack from under the driver's seat, the one with the large bottles of vodka. And, if those bottles weren't enough to get her through one visit while she stayed with me, she'd drink all our cough medicine bottles dry.
Just as a young girl who idolized her grandmother because she used to spoil her with stuffed monkeys, I grew older and some would say more disrespectful. Although, I believe that I was just more disrespected the older I got. I can't remember why my grandmother would slap me on the face, usually later in the evenings. I just knew that her slaps hurt more and more the older I got.
And now, as a grown woman who knows the difference between authenticity and garbage, I realized that the strand of pearls although genuine, are still just garbage. Tempted to open the window and toss them out onto the side of the graveled street, I tried to not be over dramatic. I didn't want to cause a scene. I wanted to enjoy this morning with my husband and daughter. I wiped the tears away and tried to close the door to the painful memories as a child. As I started to put the visor up, I caught a glance of my own daughter, trying to catch my eye. I smiled warmly at her and realized that I am no longer the child of my mother but I am now my child's mother.