My mom came to Tucson for my graduation and we had a bit of a reunion, which seems like a positive thing. It was relatively uneventful, with only one altercation between my parents.
By that time, Mom was pretty far gone emotionally. I think that my moving away served as a catalyst that sent her permanently into the pit of victim-hood. When she left I believe she completed the turn within herself and from then on, she burrowed deeper and deeper into her own tormented soul.
I only vaguely recall the days that Mom was here with me. I believe she may have stayed with her good friend Yvonne, who lived in Phoenix, and only lingered in Tucson a day or two. I do have a few photos from the day I graduated. Mom joined me at my house along with Dad's girlfriend Judy, who graciously snapped a few photos for us.
(Judy was the kindest woman I can remember that my dad ever dated. I remember how much I wished he would stay with her. She was a nurturing woman, always thoughtful and giving. I'm sure she had issues like anyone, but of all the women who came through Dad's life, she is the one who stands out as potentially a good choice of partner for him.
As I consider my memory of her now, I feel the emotion rise up in my throat. Had Judy remained, how would our lives have been different? I still see the hurt on her face as she spoke of the difficulties she and Dad had toward the end of their relationship. Perhaps she saw me as someone she'd like to have loved too. I was willing and up to that point, we'd had a good relationship. Perhaps that was part of why my father couldn't allow it to continue, he never was any good at sharing his women with anyone else.)
Thankfully, Judy was camera happy. The only photos I have of the years from 14 to 19 were those which she took in my 18th year and shared with me. Here are a few from that day.
(I evidently wasn't great a looking at the camera! You can see the little travel trailer that was my bedroom when I was a teenager just behind us)
(I like that these also picture the home where I spent most of my high-school years. Dad was wonderful with plants and it showed in the beauty of what grew around our humble home.)
I recall feeling a sense of relief as I marched behind a classmate out to the field where we were to be seated. Not one given to crying, I surprised myself by being unable to hold them back on that occasion. I had earned scholarships to several top schools, but had decided against college in favor of pursuing my relationship with Chad (as if I couldn't have done both?). So this ceremony came with a sense of finality. I was DONE with school!
I didn't see Mom until the ceremony itself was over and then, only for the briefest of moments. As I remember it, she reached over the well-wishers crowded around me to hand me a card and then disappeared into the darkness. That was it. No hug. No 'I'm proud of you'. No good-bye. No, 'I'll see you later'. Just gone.
It was an odd sensation and probably the thing I remember most clearly. I still recall staring hopefully into the bleachers, thinking she'd surely just gone to the bathroom. But she never returned. I still don't quite know what happened, I never asked her and she never volunteered the information. But that was the last I'd see her for several years. I can only assume that her friend picked her up and they returned to Phoenix.
Once again, as I consider that moment, I feel the pang of regret and perhaps a bit of the hurt of rejection. Does a mother really do that? Mine did.
I do think I understand now. Her hurt and rejection were so intense that she didn't give a thought to what she might project onto her children. She only knew to run from the pain. At that event were my Father, whom she considered the love of her life, with yet another replacement for her. She must have been reeling inside from the pain of it, desperate to shut off the flood of emotions.
My journey through High School was now complete. The darkness of that night well illustrates what I was walking into as I moved away from the brightness of Flowing Wells High Schools football stadium. School at least had purpose in educating. What I was walking toward held very little of purpose.