7 Lessons And Un-Lessons From My Mom

Now I want to share some of the ways that my mom inspired me. She passed away two years ago due to a rare disease called amyloidosis. I think she died of a broken heart actually, but the actual disease is when your heart hardens to death. So yes, in a sense, a broken heart. So random yet if you knew the story, not really random at all.

Some of these things are lessons. Some are un-lessons. As I’m working through her death I will feel also the pain from some experiences in my life and haven’t been able to share with people because I’ve often been ridiculed. Let’s go. It’s time now to work through as I’m “going through it” to “move forward” I think for us both.

Lessons and un-lessons.

Lesson 1: She encouraged me to pursue my dreams.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Sometimes we didn’t focus as much on money as was important. This is a lesson too. But one thing that I really liked is that my mom always believed in me and my siblings, her children. Even if Roanoke Ballet Theatre didn’t work, she still encouraged me to go at 32 years old when others around me discouraged me.

I took a for the most part well-thought-out risk and can know that she believed in me to jump and then find my next step. When one white person I’d worked with made backhanded remarks about my age, or other random people who have no say in this story have remarked about my race, too, and boxed me in as less than who I am, I’ve still done this.

And now will God-willing move forward to greener pastures.

Thank you mom.

Lesson 2: She gave me piano lessons.

I haven’t played in a long time, but I want to get back to it as my life evens out. My keyboard that my sister gave to me (she is an artist/singer/songwriter who taught herself to play piano and other instruments!), it is in a story facility in Atlanta. Actual classical and unclassical songs.

Un-Lesson 3: Don’t be too nice.

Sometimes my mom was too nice to people. Like my father’s mom, technically my grandmother. Or my father. Sending cards or having us make a plate of Christmas or Thanksgiving food to share when they were divorced/separated and it wasn’t really deserved.

I think that in seeing how we compromised ourselves, she compromised her essence, that the lesson is to not. You’re not obligated to be nice to anyone.

Being nice is not reciprocating the same thing back and just being neutral. Being overly nice is by doing things for people still. No, not everyone deserves it and that’s okay.

Un-Lesson 4: These feelings are complex and it’s okay.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

I think that one thing that I got was maybe the neglect my mom experienced as this was something passed down. I know it wasn’t intentional. And my mom was basically a single mother for six children. She didn’t help me with my period, bras, sex, nothing to help me grow up.

It was really traumatic and difficult to hear two years ago, “Happy Birthday you’re really/officially a woman,” the day I turned 32. But no preparation for this ever. I was so hurt and angry.

And then one month later she’s sick.

Very horrible and painful on different levels. I’m just unearthing it. I felt so many emotions and then guilt that I also still hurt. Even now, it still hurts, which is an emotional memory that I wonder if it was her telling me her story too?

If I can articulate this and work through it, I think that there is something bigger than each of our hurts, that I can heal the both of our child and adult selves, girl/woman, and whatever other messages there are.

I feel embarrassed to feel like this because I will love her a lot, you know. But it’s what I am also working through, this pain.

Un-Lesson 5: She taught me the importance of standing up to boys and men.

This is another reverse one, but it’s okay. It’s for us both. It sucked how my brother was sometimes given the power of being like the head of the household or sometimes overburdened (another story, another day).

Or it was disappointing when I saw her get back in the car with my father one day after they’d separated. I felt so let down given the hurts we’d suffered, what he’d done. I’m working through these experiences also, one being abuse.

But I think that what this has shown me is that one, it’s important to have money for yourself so you don’t depend on an unhealthy person (in this case a man) for things.

Seeing this I, two, also realize the patriarchal structure that girls and women come from. And I KNOW that in Nigeria males have the power and know this was the privilege her brothers/my uncles, luckily less now thanks to writers like Chimamanda Adichie.

Hopefully my success I want is message to her upbringing as well, and to all who benefited from their maleness.

My mom was and is still an inspiring person and woman in many ways, and I only hope that I can tell her story, release it, live it, breathe it. And with this, stand up to the patriarchal structure too. We saw this is a barrier we have generationally and it should be bulldozed starting with us and her.

Lesson 6: My mom taught me to persevere.

Image courtesy of Pixabay

I felt bad that my mom would be so smart and had her own business at one point, but our circumstances never allowed for a real showing of who she was and is.

I hope that in this point of my life, even if I’m unhappy where I am currently and taking steps to move forward, that this can be like alchemy. That the light can be shone on everything bad so that it can be transformed into gold through its resplendent energy.

Lesson 7: She taught us to love one another.

Sometimes the idea of “family” wasn’t healthy. There were some real problems we unearthed after she died. I think though overall it was good. The foundation so that the water could fill into the tributaries that were dug.

Today, I do want to build real relationships with he siblings who are also standing and not trying to run away. And I’m working on this, taking steps.

There’s more detail here. Not everyone I can because of their actions. But I’m taking the right steps, what I can, given the set-up, what is given to me.

I don’t know what to feel about lessons and un-lessons. But it is finally time for me to start working through my mom’s passing now. I hope that sharing this isn’t incriminating for me and that others don’t judge me like I have been before by other women.

I hope that I rise above their lack of empathy and can show it to others.

Thank you for reading.




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Obinna Morton

Obinna Morton

My name is Obinna. This is my story. WEOC, The Pink, The Book Mechanic.