My earliest memories of my mom are of her smiling. I remember that she gave fantastic hugs.She also fought with my dad, a lot. For every warm memory I have of being “little”, there is also one of my mom and dad arguing loudly (sometimes violently). Despite their troubled marriage, my parents were very loving toward me, especially when I was very young.

When I was about 10, my father was indicted for tax crimes. He and my mother lost so much (their business and our home). Although they’d both always been “drinkers”, my mom started drinking more. She continued to be there for me as much as she could, but on some level I started to understand that I needed to take care of her. As alcoholism began to consume more of her, an eerie quiet developed between she and my dad. There was no more fighting, but there were also very few smiles and hugs. I knew she loved me and was proud of me, but I struggled to understand the situation she was in with my dad. She became more and more reclusive and discouraged me from having friends. She wanted me at home at all times. She lost interest in doing things together. My older sister began to act in Mom’s place; she helped me pick out my prom dress and she was the one I talked to about boys. At this point, I had lost my mom in the sense that she no longer mothered me.

After I left for college, Mom really began to decline. When I would come home for visits, I would find the house to be a complete mess (she had previously been a neat freak). She refused to go anywhere or be involved in anything. I couldn’t even have friends over to the house. I was hurt and angry at the person she was becoming. I also began to realize how much emotional damage she’d done to me over the years. Part of me was so sad and wanted so much to help her, and part of me knew that everything I did to help her enabled her to continue on drinking her life away. I became very angry with her.

Our relationship continued to be strained as I entered graduate school. My father left her and she had nothing left physically or emotionally to rebuild her life with. I wanted her so badly to find some peace and happiness, but anger at my father consumed her final years.Her health really began to decline after my father left her. She had severe osteoporosis (due to years of drinking and not taking care of herself). She was in constant pain and had to move in with my grandmother after fracturing her hip.

As I finished graduate school, I fell in love with and became engaged to my husband, Jason. Mom had no interest in the wedding, though she liked Jason. She considered being married to be a prison sentence. I was to move right after the wedding to Kentucky, and I worried about what would happen to her.

My wedding date was set for January 18th, 2003. On January 1st, she called me to tell me that she’d talked it over with God and that He’d told her she wouldn’t have to suffer much longer. I asked her to please not say things like that (I was thinking she just didn’t want to come to the wedding). Two days later, I got a call from my grandmother that my mom had been taken by ambulance to the hospital and that things were really bad. I drove the 4 hours home to see her.

We knew she was taking medications for her osteoporosis; what we didn’t know is that she was taking them with alcohol. Over time, the medication had eaten a hole in her esophagus. She died of a massive esophageal bleed. She was on life support when I got there and my sister and I, after discussing it with her doctors, decided to remove life support. She passed quickly thereafter.

Two weeks later, I was married and a week after that I was living in a new place with my new husband and a new job. It was a difficult transition. At this point, I’d lost her in the physical sense, yet I still longed for the mom I’d always wished she could be. I dealt with such a mix of emotions: anger that she was gone, relief that I didn’t have to worry about her anymore, desperation to know that she had really loved me. After all, if she really loved me, how could she have chosen alcohol over me?

It was about 3 years later that I took the Motherless Daughters class. When I first began the class, all I knew was that I was angry at her. I had forgotten all that was good about her. After a lot of healing from the Lord, I now can see her as a child of God that He loves. I’ve come more to understand the factors that drove her to alcoholism, and that has allowed me to forgive her. It’s been a long process, but I’m happy to say that I can now look back on the good times with her and smile.