My father was a child of God. Given that, he should receive some respect. My mother says she has “always” been intimate with God. She was and is also a person who’ll go to extremes to be loved. Well before Pop entered her life, and throughout their marriage, Mom would do any non-promiscuous thing to be held in esteem.
In an oddly dysfunctional way, Pop may have tried to protect Mom from making bad decisions; something she did with regularity. While his motivation may have been love early on, it devolved — perhaps due to repetition — into something severe, mean and controlling.
But Mom was no angel. She knew how to push Pop’s buttons, triggering any number of manifestations of rage. As twisted as it might seem, I think it was her way of exercising some control of her own over Pop; damn the consequences. It was a strategy employed when she felt powerless — the flex of a muscle causing strong response.
This was how my parents related with each other for fifty-nine years.
Mom has not expressed regret since Pop’s passing last August; something she sort of feels guilty about — she thinks regret is what everyone expects her to feel.
Sitting at her hospital bedside this afternoon, Mom told me that her friend Dot had called last week. Dot said she would not be able to attend Mom’s 80th birthday party in July, but that she’d send her a roll of stamps just as she has for many past birthdays. (You may recall Pop’s aversion to Mom writing and mailing cards.) I said: “Well, Dot doesn’t need to sneak stamps to you any more…you can have all the stamps you want. Pop isn’t here to say ‘no.'”
At that, Mom burst into tears. I waited for her to speak when she could. Mom said that she was “so happy not to be living under his thumbscrews anymore. I am free. I love being free.” These were happy tears. She said: “I want to cry all day.” An hour later, I left her alone to do just that.
The hospital social worker called me after a while and said she’d just paid Mom a visit. She observed Mom sobbing in her sleep. She, too, left her alone.