Saturday, April 10, 2010

What Needs To Be Said

I've always enjoyed writing; it helps me put things into perspective and allows me to vent ideas that may be considered socially unacceptable or, worse case might get me an EZ Pass to a court ordered psychotherapist.  I can share my thoughts with others or banish them to a flash drive, if I so choose.  Sometimes I revisit those ideas until I am able to find a comfortable place for them in my psyche, even if it means a place in the "Wait and See" File.  When I sit down to write I am never sure if I am exorcising demons or entertaining angels, but by the time I get it all down I am usually at a place where at least, I can settle.

One of the issues I deal with on a regular basis is the issue of my son, Steven.  Despite years of his rebellion, I still revisit the "what ifs" and "whys" from time to time.  I try to figure out when things went wrong.  I look to determine my role in his defiance.  I re-examine every hug, every "I love you" and to see if they were genuine or he was merely playing me.  I wonder what it will take for him to straighten out his life, or if he is lost forever.  I do not dwell, but sometimes we must, at least, glance backward when moving forward.

Not long ago, my mother, who took Steven in when no one else would, who believed far longer than anyone else that Steven could make a better life for himself, became one of his victims.  He took incredible advantage of her kindness and stole from her -- a lot.  A senior citizen, on a fixed income, in love with her grandson and wanting his companionship, and he crushed her.  He destroyed her home, stole her possessions out from under her, and buried her dignity.  (I'm sure my repulsion at his actions is a tad obvious here.)  This same woman, just the other day, said, "I can't imagine what you must be going through.  I can't imagine how you must feel."  You're kidding me, right?

Four years ago, when Steven ran away, Scott and I took him back, sat him down, explained what we expected from him as a young man and a family member.  Steven defaulted, stole some money from us and spent the next few years in a loop of running and violating the law.  Scott and I both knew that without some serious lifestyle changes, Steven would never be part of our lives again.  While it was a difficult decision, I learned a long time ago that we answer for ourselves and our roles in life; Steven knew the difference between what was right and the life he chose, but it was his choice.  I may not have been the best mother, but as a mother, I tried to do my best.  I raised him in the church, punished him when he was wrong, and did without so that he could have.  But there are no guarantees, and parents come to expect being unpopular in their decisions.  I knew he was a thief; I knew he would hurt and lie and steal to get whatever it was he was after.  Though my job was unfinished, he left us no choice but to severe ties.

But my mother?  What is a grandmother's job?  To love, to guide, to be a cheerleader?  My mother didn't ask for her role, but she filled it magnificently!  She was always there for Steven, and their bond was deep and founded on love.  To see him turn on her the way he did is the most hurtful and hopeless thing of all.  And for my mother to declare her concern for me?  It brought me to tears, and words eluded me.  After much writing and soul searching I have come up with an answer.  It may not be the final answer, but it's what it is for now:

As for Steven, I have no choice but to accept; rules are never popular with children.  My job was to raise him, and I recognized its occupational hazards.  Your job was only to love him, and you did your job impressively.  It is you who has made the greater sacrifice -- the sacrifice of self with no other purpose but to love.  Once again, thank you, Mom for loving unconditionally.
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