“I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.” Maya Angelou’s words ring as true today as they did growing up. My earliest memories are not of Disneyland, carnival rides, soccer practices, or extravagant birthday parties. Contrary, my earliest memories are of darkness. I cannot remember which came first, the time I hid under my bed and urinated on myself or the time I saw my mother’s battered face against a tree: the mix of blood and tree bark was not found on the color wheel shown to me in pre-kindergarten the day before. As a child, I was conditioned to automatically fear my alcoholic father. Others did not need to influence me. His actions directly manifested my conditioning. Such as the universe works in mysterious ways to balance darkness and light, my mother was the loving superhero that quickly recovered and comforted her boys. As my childhood memories flow through my consciousness a sweet smell is stamped on every memory picture. I note that the smell of fresh red and pink roses moments before a rainstorm and a Texas spring have always been present.
My mother had the strength and assertiveness of a man. Like Hulk Smash, she quickly morphed into my superhero when she needed to protect her boys or herself from abusive men. I vividly remember the moment I felt the urge to check in with my mother after hours of playing down the street with my brothers and friends. At the age of 13 I knew to follow my intuition. A hint of the reoccurring sweet smell of a Texas spring accentuated my intuition. I walked in the house just in time to see my mother raise an iron skillet behind the wooden kitchen table turned on its side. It was evident that the kitchen table served as an Aegeus shield for my mother. I witness my superhero in action. That night after the cops where called and after being displaced to a friend’s house, my loving mother comforted my brothers and me as we feel asleep to her repeating affirmation, “We will be alright. Everything will be ok.”
For the majority of my life my mother was a single parent. On Father’s Day, my brothers and I made it a point to buy our mother flowers and a card. Oddly enough, Hallmark did not carry a card that conveyed, “Happy Father’s Day to the Best Mother in The World.” I guess single parenting was not common enough to warrant a section for mothers who acted as both parents. We recognized her struggles to maintain a house and raise three crazy boys. My mother embodied both father and mother, masculine and feminine, and strength and love. “I don’t need a father,” I found myself sharing my sentiment to anyone that would care to listen.
As my childhood catches up to the present, I know now the importance that Mother Mary has played in my life. She has accompanied me all these years. Mother Mary, like my mother, is very loving, kind, nurturing, feminine, and at the same time, masculine and assertive. My religion taught me to pray to God, Jesus, Mother Mary, and to any saint. As a catholic I am comfortable invoking saints and Mother Mary when as needed. I do ultimately pray to one, supreme, heavenly Father, but Mother Mary is the one that visits me in my dreams. She comforted me the many nights I feared being abducted by my father. She assuaged my nightmares and dried my tears with love and grace. She was present when I managed depression caused by years of molestation and caused my hands to steer left seconds before contemplating driving into a light post on I35 South. Most importantly though, I now know she has been my intuition.
The day before my mother passed to be with her Heavenly Father I prayed and meditated. I am a believer that our loved ones need to hear “I forgive you” or “please forgive me for” so they can cross stripped of any guilt or rancor they may harbor. In that hour of meditation, I told my mother everything she needed to hear. “Mom, I forgive you for not being there to prevent my being molested. I forgive you for not seeing the signs to put a stop to it. I forgive you for not being my superhero in this one situation in my life.” Similarly I asked for forgiveness. “Please forgive me for not visiting you as much as we both would have liked. Please forgive me for sponsoring my father to become a US Citizen against your wishes. Please forgive me for the moments I did not meet your expectations as a son.” I concluded my monologue with, “I thank you for being the center of my universe, and I thank you for being the best mother and father. I love you unconditionally and I cannot wait to get to know you better from the other side. I welcome you to all aspects of my life and eagerly anticipate sharing my spiritual development with you and your assistance.” My mediation was cathartic. It was a lifetime of therapy sessions condensed in a power hour; a divinely induced energy release.This moment was an ode to my mother. As I started to ground myself from my meditative state, a silhouette of Mother Mary appeared in my mind’s eye. A fragrant smell of roses moments before the rain validated the importance of this special moment.