My Hero Was My Abuser
Rose-Ingrid Gracia

Dear Sister:

Your thoughts and words cut deep. It is a repeating story in the lives of so many women. I am all that I am because of the grace of God and my mom. You have given voice to that which we were not to speak. Your willingness to share has provided a way to heal from the hurt, guilt, and shame. Now here is the real lesson — reconciliation.

There were years when I did not have any contact with my mother. Her abuse was physical, spiritual, and emotional; most of all relentless. After years of hatred, bitterness, and a cacophony of emotions it happened. The force of nature that was my mom showed the cracks of aging. While I kept my distance I cared for her needs and did my best to spoil her rotten. At first in her typical fashion she treated this as an entitlement. Then it came…my mom and I started a tentative friendship. I visited her here and there but still knew not to get to close.

During her last years dementia and illness began to steal her from me and those who loved her in the world. The abuser returned as she grasped desperately to cling to anything that was part of her former self. Fast forward to hospice. I parked my truck outside of the place and didn’t leave. I was prepared to sleep in it if I had to. I spent the last 12 days of her life by her bedside, leaving only to nap and get her some treat. We sang, cried, drank, and listened to gospel music on my phone. Then she took her last breathe on October 31, 2009. I felt her last heartbeat…something in me died then.

8 years later I am still trying to negotiate the web of memories and feelings that is my mother. I talk to her often; can’t tell you how many times I reached for the phone to ask her about a recipe, for advice, or to be consoled. I yell at her, curse her still, and will never stop thanking God she is my mother.