Sunday, July 13, 2008

Remembering Three Ladies and Three Mothers

I had three mothers before I was three years old.

The first, was my birth mother, Eunice. She died between when I was 1½ and two years old. Of what she died, I have never really known for sure. I neither know the actual date nor where she died. I'm sure of the year because it is on her gravestone - 1943. I know that she died in considerable pain, because my father wrote, not long before he died, that he had begged the doctors to give her something for her pain so that "that poor woman would not be flopping about like that".

It seems certain, that she was ill for some time before she died -- a year, a ½ year? -- I really don't know. But during her illness, I was sent to live with my grandfather, Charles Edward, and his wife, Amanda, then cared for me. My second mother, was also Charles Edward's second wife. His first wife (and my father's mother), Bonnie Helen, had died in childbirth when my dad was about five years old. My grandfather had later remarried this lovely Swedish lady who later was my second mother.

This is how I came to have a third mother: Amanda was a member of a religious sect that did not believe in medicine. She contracted a minor infection which, although treatable with medicine of the time did not respond well to either faith or will power. And so, she died the same year as my birth mother, perhaps a ½ year later. She is buried in Hobart to the right of Charles Edward and Eunice is buried a little further to his left.

I then lived alone for a short while with my grandfather who had little idea of what to do with a toddler my age as I have it on good authority, my cousin Keith, that he had tied a rope around me to keep me from wandering off.

My third mother was my father, Robin's oldest sister, Helen. I stayed with her for about a year, along with her husband, Warren and her three boys, Allen, Keith and Gene.

They had some difficulty with me in the beginning as I objected strongly to having my day clothes removed before being put to bed. As Keith relates it, it was Warren, who "knowing how to deal with wild animals", first had my clothes placed next to me on the bed, then at the end of the bed, on a chair and, finally put away for the night.

When I 3½ or four years old, my father remarried a woman I never really accepted as my mother. If it was because of her odd emotional coldness which later developed into madness or my own history, I can't say. Probably, as is usual, a combination of both along with other factors.

But the reason I am writing this today is that Helen, the last of my father's generation died recently, on the 28th of July around 2 AM in the nursing home in Ocala, Florida, where she had been living for the past decade. She would have been 99 early this Autumn.

My Aunt Helen was many things. She was a lady that is certain, a lady of quiet dignity, quite intelligent, somewhat reserved, very observant and an excellent poet -- ah, if I had only known of her poetry earlier! I was well past middle age, before I became acquainted with her work.

For a year, she was my mother. And now, a couple of days ago, almost two weeks after her passing, and it suddenly struck me with sharp pain how much I will miss her.

And that is why I wrote this tonight, to say farewell to and commemorate the memories of three ladies who were my mothers, but especially the last one.

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