birthdays are rough

Today is my mother’s birthday. She should have turned 62. Please don’t say you are sorry. Really, there isn’t anything you or anyone can say to make this better. There just isn’t.

I learned (via a children’s book review site) that my mother shares her birthday with Frances Elizabeth Caroline Willard. Ms. Willard was born over a hundred years before my mom, and apparently was a leader in bringing about prohibition (and woman’s suffrage). I suspect that is why this week there are two mini series on prohibition premiering. I overheard some talk about them on the radio this morning.

Alcoholism is a terrible disease. It creates distance between people. It rips apart families. It lies. It confuses. It kills.

I realize I’m having trouble with the time line. It is getting fuzzy. Then I remembered that her suicide attempt was most likely triggered by the anniversary of her own mother’s death so it was near Christmas. And how I found out she was in the hospital – by automated collect call. Of course I didn’t know she was in a mental hospital until she called me at work to ask for a ride home.

I don’t miss the craziness that came with the disease. In some ways, I must admit, life is easier. Or at least it is less chaotic.

I remember a funny story from one of her birthdays years ago. We had been at the LA County Fair all day, and returned home to find our dog was not happy by our absence. She chewed up the trash, leaving a path of rubbish from the kitchen to the front door. As we followed the trail, we found the plant we had gotten my mother for her birthday, also chewed up. And then as we entered the kitchen, on the table was the birthday cake – icing licked off by the dog.

It wasn’t funny then, although it was hard not to laugh. That dog was too much.

Still though, I miss her. Terribly.

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