My relationship with my mom was a hard fought battle. Nothing about it was easy. Over the years we shed more tears than a Miss Universe crowning. I was a shy, sensitive kid. She was born to an emotionally distant, angry alcoholic who believed that “girls can’t work so they are a waste of food.” My mom was gifted with a sensitive caring heart, but it was repeatedly crushed in the harsh reality of her world. She grew up simultaneously fearing men, but falling in love with my dad. They were married 38 years. When my relationship with her was good, we shared an emotional synergy capable of changing the world. When it was bad, we inflicted heart damage on each other that we’d never recover from until her death.
Around Christmas of 2011, God called me home to check on mom and dad. I knew He was calling me home, but I didn’t know why. Christmas day unceremoniously came and went. Mom had spent the last two years living in her recliner in the living room. She had simply checked out of life and honestly seemed to be waiting on God to take her home. My mom had always struggled with Bi-polar disorder, but tried hard to hide it from my brother and I. She wasn’t always successful. I grew up afraid of her.
Christmas 2011 was difficult at best. Conversations were sparse and strained, if at all. I spent many days occupying the couch opposite my mother’s makeshift fortress from which she watched the life stories and adventures of the people in her chosen community play out on TV. I still had no idea what God was up to. Most days I felt like a rescue diver desperately scanning for signs of life in the “murky waters” of what remained of my relationship with my mother. Then hope surfaced.
During one of our marathon TV stints, mom asked me to pray for her. This was completely unexpected. As I knelt at her feet, I was immediately nervousness. What should I pray? I finished my prayer and we settled back in until the next day. Once again she asked for prayer. I was freaking out. What was this about God?
The following day I prayed over my mother again; a few minutes she would be gone. The events of that day were burned into my head with a white, hot laser. The prayer that day was straight up spiritual warfare. I believe my mother was tormented by demons her whole life. The Holy Spirit and I seemed to be alone in that belief. I prayed in tongues. I prayed in the name of Jesus taking no notice of the people in the room. During the prayer she stopped fighting me and slumped into her chair, a look of peace on her face.
My mom was plagued with anger, sadness, bitterness and unforgiveness. It would eventually choke the life out of her sensitive heart. I believe she lost the will to live. She had resigned herself to that recliner after resigning from life. She was addicted to prescription drugs. Her counselor was worthless and instead of getting my mom off the few drugs she was on, only succeeded in putting her on many additional medications. At the end of the day, my mom’s heart simply gave out.
Growing up, my family hid every aspect of their lives; not just the private stuff. I grew up watching relatives stuff every tear, trial and emotion so deep that even satan himself had trouble finding it. When I left home, I refused to live a life of quiet desperation, beyond the borders of true community. My mother died quietly; sequestered in silence, because someone somewhere painted emotions as a weakness. I now know that emotions are a gift from God that give life perspective. I wish to honor my mother’s memory, learn from her mistakes and the mistakes of others that sent her down the wrong path.
My mother was a culinary seamstress, weaving the tastiest tapestries of sugar, butter and Crisco and wielded bleach with reckless abandon against every strain of bacteria known to man. She would occasionally sneak a piece of Colby Jack Cheese into her bedroom late at night and subsequently fall asleep before eating it, leaving it to harden and get lost under her pillow, only to be found later. She screamed, cried and laughed in equal amounts and taught me that every hurt could be mended with cookies, bacon or a whole mess of fried potatoes. Above all else, I know she loved me.
There are days I wish I could have done more to show her how much she impacted my life. Days I miss her beyond belief. I know at the end of her life I served and honored her well. As I stood by her hospital bed 4 years ago in a cold, dimly lit room, I thanked her for giving me the life she never had. I thanked her for naming me Aaron and challenging me to be a voice in the world. I tried my hardest to remember the good she did and forget the bad she never meant to do. Ultimately I thanked her for her sacrificial life and said goodbye one last time.