Love You Forever….

There is a story by Robert Munsch titled “Love You Forever”. Those of you who do not know the story, it is about the love a mother has for her child throughout his life. I’ve been thinking about this story for the past few days. Let me explain why.

A few nights ago I received a phone call from my mother. She and I speak often, especially since my father died almost thirteen years ago now.                        

So, a few nights ago I received a phone call from her. She seemed normal on the phone.

“Hello Nic, I don’t want to alarm you, but I’ve fallen and the ambulance will be here shortly.”

She had fallen just after brushing her teeth. She turned to exit the bathroom and fell. She tried clutching to the marble surface of the sink, but cut her index finger deeply – something that would require four stitches. She hit her head on the side of the toilet and landed prostrate on the ground. She tried calling out to her tenant downstairs for over an hour as she pulled herself along the floor towards the kitchen, eventually getting ahold of a phone. It took her an hour and twenty minutes to drag herself fifteen feet. She eventually was able to contact her grand-daughter (my half-niece) who arrived within minutes of getting the call. My Mother, blood streaking from the bathroom into the kitchen from her cut hand, did not want an ambulance straight away. She wanted to have clean socks and for the house to be presentable when the first responders were called. It was over two hours before she was at the hospital.

The next calls I received were from the hospital. A preliminary x-ray showed no broken bones. They called for a CT scan. That scan showed a multi-fractured hip. She was going to need surgery. This is the fear of so many seniors.

The surgeon called me to let me know that he would be putting a few screws and staples in her left hip. He also wanted to let me know that he was reviewing the paperwork and noticed that she had signed a “Do Not Resuscitate” a few years previously. He wanted to prepare me that she was high risk for complications due to her health and age. He wanted to let me know that if there was a complication, her request would be followed. I acknowledged that I was aware of the paperwork she had signed. An hour later my Mom called in a panic. She wanted to be resuscitated and wasn’t “ready to go” yet.  I was able to get in touch with her GP and told him what she had said. He told me he would see what he could do.

I did all I that I could to get up to where she lives as soon as I could. It took me two days to finally get up to the hospital in Hopeless. My daughter gave me a print of a painting she had made called a “Giraffe-Snake”. It was her way of showing her grandmother she was thinking of her.

My Mom was scheduled for surgery at 4pm the day that I drove up to see her. I encountered many delays and they kept pushing her surgery. Finally, at 11:30pm I arrived and she was sent to surgery. I waited in her room at the hospital, but was told she would be kept in recovery for a while, so I left. I was called at almost 3AM that she was doing fine. I was very relieved.

Then it happened. I thought of the lines from the Robert Munsch book:

I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always

As long as you’re living, my baby you’ll be.

Here I was back in Hopeless. The place where I was born. The place my Mother raised me. The place where I was abused.

When my Mother was pregnant with me, she was tormented by her sister to abort me. Her sister felt she was too old to have a child, and had aborted one herself since it was the “right thing to do”. My Mother (thankfully) did not listen to her. Despite the constant warnings that I was going to be born “abnormal” or “deformed”, my Mother was determined to have me. The opening line of Munsch’s book is:

A mother held her new baby and very slowly rocked him back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. And while she held him, she sang:

I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
As long as I’m living
my baby you’ll be.

I thought of her holding me all those years ago. How small I once was.

I spent the next day at the hospital with her. She was putting on a good show of her sarcastic humor, and trying to come across as cool and collected. Deep down she was afraid, and took out her frustrations on the nursing staff who were trying to help her. Her hip hurt, and she needed to start to walk again. Years of being on her own had caused her to develop her own system of movement. It was assessed that her movement pattern had to change as it was going to eventually lead to another fall. She was going to have to learn to walk again. She became even more upset, her blood pressure raising. She cried. I watched helplessly.

Here was my mom who confronted the private school immediately when she discovered bruises all over my body (unaware of the deeper abuse at that time). She didn’t think twice. She was a powerhouse. Another line from Munsch:

But at night time, when he was asleep, the mother quietly opened the door to his room, crawled across the floor and looked up over the side of the bed. If he was really asleep, she picked up that nine-year-old boy and rocked him back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. And while she rocked him she sang:

I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
As long as I’m living
my baby you’ll be.

When I left the hospital on the second night, I returned to my room and turned on the television. The Empire Strikes Back was playing. When my Mom was ill when I was a child, it was the Empire Strikes Back that I would watch over and over. It was something I watched when I recovered from the knife attack in the snow. It was now on again, reminding me of the Power of the Force. That we are luminous beings. Life creates us, makes us grow. We are children of the Force.

I am writing this while the movie continues to play in the background. It is only my second day up here. Today, before I left the hotel I helped my mother bring her legs up into the hospital bed. The powerful woman, my powerful mother, lay down. I lifted her head up and put the hospital pillow underneath her silver hair. Her right arm, shaking from the stress and fear of where she was, away from her cats, away from her house. I turned to leave, wishing her a goodnight. Three young nurses entered the room and introduced themselves to her.

“Hello. I am Montana, this is Arielle, and this is Prya. We are going to be your nurses tonight.”

None of them were over twenty-two. They were very excited to be at work, and were now in the dragon’s lair. I mean that with respect and love. My Mother has always been a powerhouse. My Dad told me that there were three ways to do something. “The right way, the wrong way, and Pearl’s way.” I looked at the young nurses. Then to my Mom. My Mom’s response to the nurses introduction was to tell them she wanted to have a bedpan to shit in and not be forced to walk across the room. She started to cry and told them it had not even been twenty-four hours since her surgery and she was feeling too rushed. The nurses laughter became nervous, as they started to understand whom they were dealing with. They tried to reassure my Mom that they were there for her. My Mom responded with an ominous “we’ll see.” Then she directed their attention to the “Giraffe-Snake” painting, telling them it was painted by her 12 year old grand daughter. They laughed a bit seeming more confused than before. They then left the room a little more shell-shocked than they had entered it. I waited for them to come out of another room before I left. I told them my Mother was naturally sarcastic. That she had been living alone for thirteen years since my Dad died. She was not used to attention and that she had worked in the banking industry as an executive during a time when it was not common for women to be more than tellers. She had to put up with a lot and fight for everything she achieved. The young nurses seemed to understand. As I started to walk away I said “good luck” and started to laugh. I am sure I will hear all about what transpires tonight when I return in the morning.

The final lines from Robert Munsch’s book resonated with me tonight:

Well, that mother, she got older. She got older and older and older. One day she called up her son and said, “You’d better come see me because I’m very old and sick.” So her son came to see her. When he came in the door she tried to sing the song. She sang:

I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always…

But she couldn’t finish because she was too old and sick. The son went to his mother. He picked her up and rocked her back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. And he sang this song:

I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
As long as I’m living
my Mommy you’ll be.

Whatever the next few days, months or years bring, I cannot say. I love my Mom, she is one of my heroes. She is a fighter, she is strong, and she is proud. She will always be my Mommy.

Goodnight Mom, I love you.

DAD’s Day

Today is Father’s Day. I hate the word, Father. I need to explain, and I apologize if my writing takes a turn towards the Dark Side as I explain why I hate the word Father so much. Here we go.

First of all, my Dad was an amazing person. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t miss the man. I will never be half the man my Dad was to me. I pale in comparison to him. He was strong, silent, funny, and had done so much in his life. He had lived through unimaginable horrors during the Second World War. I loved him and respected him as my Dad.

Secondly, I feel a day like this should be something more like “Positive Mentors Day”. Not everyone I know has a fond memory of their Dad. And for me, the word “Father” makes me shudder. Now I will explain. And yes, it goes back to my time at the Catholic School. Strap in, it’s going to get offensive pretty quick.

I make it no secret that I was abused and raped as a child at the hands of the Priests and the other officials at the school I attended in Hopeless. As a result of the abuse I have ongoing issues with accepting compliments, being hugged, or even going to the dentist. The ordeal of having to lay down with my mouth open frightens me, and if I brush my teeth for too long my gag reflex kicks in as part of my emotional recall to what happened to me behind closed doors and in the rectory of the Church. Month after month I receive calls and texts from the dentist office asking me to come back, but I have to build up the courage to do it on my own accord. It’s part of me needing to be in control.

During the sessions where I was raped, face-fucked, beaten, humiliated, shamed, I was forced to keep my silence and, to add more humiliation and shame upon me, I was forced to say, “Thank you father” when my abuser finished. Sometimes I was made to clean up the mess they made before I left, other times I was shouted at to get out after they had been satisfied.

Thank you Father.

Disgusting.

Even in my servitude I was forced to thank my abusers for what they were doing to me. I have the same reaction to movies where they show a hazing ritual and after each strike of a paddle the initiate cries out “Thank you sir may I have another?” It’s funny how powerful emotion recall can be. Recently I went to see the new Aladdin film starring Will Smith. In the musical number One Jump there is a shot of Aladdin evading his pursuers by charging through a room full of young women. They rise up, happy to see him, but are interrupted by an older woman brandishing her bamboo rod. She chases after Aladdin, attempting to hit him with her weapon as the song plays on and as the audience has a fun time watching. I loved watching the movie, and though I was smiling through the scene, that moment brought tears instantly flowing down my cheeks. I was enjoying the movie, and that one three second moment immediately brought me back to being whipped at the Catholic school. I continued to sit through the film, the tears being only momentary, but it really made me realize how much survivors carry the shame and the humiliation of abuse with them every minute of every day. It may not be consciously there, but it rests just below the surface, with any sound, visual, or smell instantly able to trigger the release of emotion.

I have observed a pattern of behavior within myself that presents ongoing awkwardness with others. I yearn to be hugged, but the wall of protection prevents me from openly accepting hugs from others. We live in a culture where people hug each other as a greeting, or as a farewell amongst friends. I can hug, and have engaged in hugs. Sometimes I am reluctant to hug, or not wanting to initiate a hug with someone. I know this can be sensed by others. The knee-jerk reaction is the person whose hug I avoided thinks I don’t like them. The reality is, I am scared to hug. I had to do it in my time working for the mouse, but it’s different in costume. I can do anything behind the mask. It’s those social situations that involve the slightest trust and intimacy that I become weird. I stand there, watching my peers hug. When the time comes for me to initiate the hug I still just stand there. There is an awkward moment where the person I am looking at waits for me to step in for a hug, but I stand there. The hug moment becomes the awkward handshake moment. I pull away from letting people around me get to know me any more than I am willing to let them. It is a choice I know, and I am tired of people telling me it is a “choice”. I know it is. I try to break through. I will, at times, initiate a funny hug to take the pressure off of being seen for what I am – a coward. Afraid to fully step out into the light for fear that people will see me as a dirty boy, undeserving of being loved and forced to thank people when they hurt me. I know that is not the case, and that I have much to offer. I thrive when I feel needed. That’s why I have to keep busy.

As a survivor my empathy level is high. I need to occupy myself with simple mundane tasks in order to keep the emotions from flooding in. Not just mine, but emotions from those around me. I have a weird ability to look into people when I look into their eyes. I can sense other’s pain, at times I can see the same suffering that at times continues to engulf me. Please know, I am fine, and during the times I am quiet or feeling something powerful within, all I need from others during those times is to just let me be. Just “be with”. I do not need cheering up. I just need to continue to process and untangle the bad thoughts from the positive.

My Mom continues to blame herself for what happened to me. I wish she could understand that nothing that happened to me was her fault. My MOM is another empath. She sees all. She knows when I am hurting. She feels powerless when I don’t let her in. She suffers by proxy for what happened to me as a child. I wish I could let her know how much I love her, and how much she means to me. Both her and my Dad. My Mom and My Dad. They love/d me. I love them both beyond expression. The same is felt for my family.  I am thankful for all I have achieved, and all that I will achieve. But I will not thank my Father for what I have been able to do and what I have. For that, I thank my Mom and my Dad. For that I thank my wife and my children.

Thank you Dad. Happy Dad’s Day. Happy Posititve Mentor Day.

DETERMINED

AND

DEDICATED

May we all continue to live as one with the Force.