A long, long time ago I used the restroom in the Port Authority Station in New York city and I left traumatized. I was not traumatized because it was filthy or that I thought I saw a rat as big as my feet. I was not traumatized because the woman in the stall next door appeared to passed out.
I was traumatized because I heard a mother yell at her four year old boy that he would never amount to anything (I’m actually cleaning the verbiage up). She smacked him and his eyes left me breathless with sadness. I remember this as if it were yesterday. But I was quite young and still scared as to what my place in the world was.
I left that restroom despondent. How could the future survive? I thought about my mother in that moment. I hadn’t lived with her in a while. I missed her. And I shed a tear. Not because I missed her but because I knew she loved me. There were many encouraging words she had told me throughout my lifetime and there were also things she didn’t tell me that helped me. Yes, I am grateful for some things that she never told me.
She never told me I was stupid or wouldn’t amount to anything. As a matter of fact she had pinned all our hopes on my success and my supposed brain gifts. I was the first one to attend college based on so many sacrifices I didn’t know about.
She never told me that she went even more hungry than we usually were so that I could go to boarding school. I had no idea she survived on white bread and mayonnaise. I came to find out through others.
She never told me, on the phone while I was at boarding school, that she missed me so that I wouldn’t cry and feel guilty. I was her first-born and it pained her terribly to let me go. I only came to fully realize that when I had my own child.
She never told me what she wanted to do with her as an adult. She never told me what she wanted to once her girls were adult women. We had been her life. She raised two girls in extreme poverty who went on to be successful. What could she have become, had she lived longer?
The last time I spoke with her, she didn’t want to tell me she had yet again lost the cell phone I got her. She didn’t want to disappoint me. I almost never found out. Now, I only wish I could hear her again explaining how yet another phone was misplaced. I wouldn’t mind at all getting her a new cell phone and hear her say hello.