Wednesday, July 07, 2010

And the story ends this way...

The reason no one in the family was notified of our mother's death was because she requested no one be told. She asked only to be allowed to die alone. It was her last fuck you to anyone left in her life, which was a very short list. She went out the way she lived, alone, oblivious to the pain and suffering of others and concerned only with her own needs.

But she left a legacy in me, a stubborn legacy not even her meanness can kill. Unlike her, I care about people. I will always care about people. I will always trust people until they give me reason not to. And in her memory I will work for peace, for the poor, for the disadvantaged because she was a victim of war, a pampered rich child who one day found herself out on the street having to work, having to survive, having to live like those she disdained, lived during most of her privileged life. This, I will always believe was the true source of her anger, that she was suddenly one of the people she had always looked own upon. She didn't care about people. She cared only about what was done to HER and that's how she lived her life.

Yes, she suffered greatly during the war, but so did a lot of people but most did not allow it to destroy their humanity. My aunt who lived side by side her most her life was a kind, compassionate and delightful human being. My mother was just the opposite, and she chose to be that way. That was a choice she made, to punish the world for what was done to her, to hate, to condemn, to live as a bigoted hateful person.

It's a familiar perspective to those of us who lived with her. Life was about her. I think sometimes she put up with the abuse because it allowed her to reaffirm the world sucked and she wanted us children to get a permanent lesson on how badly it sucked, on why it was a bad idea to fall in love, to care about people, to allow yourself moments of weakness that others called happiness. She wanted us to know how disgusting and horrible life was so we wouldn't be disappointed as she was disappointed. She wore her suffering as a badge of honor, as some kind of demented trophy, and she did nothing to stop us from getting beat, hurt, and abused. It was the message she wanted to send us, that life really sucked and we didn't deserve better. So it's only fitting that in the end, her death was also all about her.

I know that it's not the end of it for me yet. I know I'm angry, especially for my sister who really did try and help her, who stayed in touch, who sent her money, who made sure she had what she needed. I'm sorry she never thanked my sister for this, that she never appreciated what she did for her, and in the end punished her for caring too much. I'm sorry for my cousins who treated her with love and kindness and even though they lived in Las Vegas where she died, she didn't allow them to say goodbye.

But anger can be a useful thing. It can help you grow. It can help you move forward. It can motivate you in ways nothing else can. The way I see it, my life begins new every day. On this day, it just took a larger beginning than most. It allowed me to see the richness of my life, the love I have, the cherished friends who mean more to me than anything.

In that sense, I already have more than she ever did. She was a lonely, bitter excuse for a human being and the best we can do as her children, is to not let what infected her also infect us. We are all works in progress and the message here if one is necessary, is that it is never too late to give birth to yourself.

I just did.

Top left to right, my uncle is the third one. From top row right, my grandparents are the second couple. Bottom row, my mother is the child on the pillow surrounded by servants.
The castle in Trieste where she lived until the Germans took it over for their headquarters as it sat on a hill and was accessible only by a tram car.
My grandmother who was the one who actually raised us. She was born in what is now Pazin, Croatia.
My brother and I. Of us all, he inherited her anger and hatred at the world. My sincere hope is that one day he allows himself to heal from it and grow into a good human being. It's in him, he just has to find it.

I don't have anything but recent pictures of my sister and since this is about the past I'll refrain from posting any new ones.

"Our parents give birth to us twice, the second time when they die."  Anais Nin


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