Their relationship as husband and wife is not for me to judge. Through their journey, they have managed to stay together for 49 years. But it did not operate in a vacuum and had an impact on my relationship with Mom.
My parents married the summer after my Mom graduated high school, a common practice in 1958. During my formative years Mom did not seem happy with any aspect of her life.
Dad's job at the steel mill served as the primary source of income. I remember as if it were yesterday, the day my mother asked for my father's permission to work as as a reading aide at the local elementary school. Talk about a defining moment in my life. I knew at that moment in time I would never be in a position to ask for permission to work or anything else that matter. I was annoyed by the whole exercise.
I guess my mother picked up on my rejection of her lifestyle and viewed it as a rejection of her.
As my graduation from college was looming, she and I had a pretty nasty fight. All of her hurt and anger was unleashed in a fury of harsh words. "You think you're smarter than me" she sobbed. "You always talk to your Dad" she continued. She even called me Miss High School. Ouch. I attempted to fight back. "You always sent me to Dad" so I just cut out a step. She was not having it. My parting shot was "I'm not sure why YOU hate ME, all I ever did was try to make you proud"..........
I left and returned to my dorm and did speak to her for a couple of days. I'm sure that didn't hurt. Ugh I cringe at the memory.
Blessedly, we were granted the time and exercised the sense to work through our views of each other.
She has been rock solid during ALL of the challenges I faced in my life even the self-inflicted ones. She taught me through her actions, how to be a cool Mom. For years I was ALWAYS late.
It was she who gently pointed out that it was the "one last thing" I was trying to get done which threw off my schedule.
She could give lectures at Wharton on organization and time management. It was she who got five people out of the house before 8 am with one bathroom. Dad was active in the community. It was Mom who kept him on task. Me and my brothers were involved in sports, the band, musicals, and community activities. To this day, I don't know how she kept it and us together. We were NEVER late.
Born in a different time, I wonder if her choices would have been different. Me and the boys were important to her and her legacy. She points to all of us with pride.
It breaks my heart to see her mind failing her. She gets frustrated and looks sad. Her role in the family has changed. We are finally looking after her.
I look at my Mom with pride and all my love.