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The Single Mother Mortgage


The Single Mother Mortgage

Now, since I’ve been in the writing full-time mode. Actually, more than full-time mode. Like a friend of mine had recently said, “Only sixteen hours of writing in a day? That’s not a full workday.” We laughed.

As we get older, its not that we find time to ponder thoughts. Its that somewhere if we’ve allowed ourselves, we gain insight as to what was our past living was all about. Who were our parents? Who were our siblings? Why were they there? How did it mold us? If they had. What effects did our relationships, non-relationships and our hopeful relationships have on us? Did they matter? Why were they brought forth many decades later after their deaths? Why were their words still on repeat in our minds, like a vinyl record skipping? What did they teach us? And was it worth the lessons?

Yes, perhaps there are many other questions that anyone could add in the aforementioned paragraph. Since I’ve had Rainman-esk thoughts, I could add tons more questions. But I digress. This morning as I finished up cleaning a bathroom counter at home—before writing, reading, and editing would begin for the day. A thought of how my parents’ marriage appeared fleeting, arrived. Their marriage now appeared frail to me. I wondered, ‘Was that with every marriage?’ Was every marriage so frail? Or was just their generation—getting married too soon, too young, and from a working-class status the problem?

Then I realized that as much as my dad appeared to want the job that forced him to buy a home in the town he worked in. It may not have been his true desire. And in turn, just a handful of years after my parents purchased their first home they’d become separated. That, near the same time my mother’s mental and physical health tanked.

I was a witness to my mother’s mental health tanking within a month of the move into our new home. They’d been married in 1957 and rented till October 1973. I wondered why—I also wondered if my parents truly had a choice. Looking back to 1970 to 1971 we were ready to become Aussie’s. Some of my dad’s side of the family lived in Australia, and he was promised to become a sheepherder. It looked like it was a ‘go’, when I was age eight and my brother was age ten, my sister not yet born. But months later it fell through or something. I just know months after our passport pictures were taken, we weren’t heading to Australia. Funny, I was game to the idea. However, I don’t think my mother was.

1973 was not the pivotal moment for the demise of my parent’s marriage. It was already there, before her illnesses caught up with her. She initially held it together. It was my dad’s emotional and physical departure from our lives in the mid to late 1960’s. I know I was there—and as my dad had pressured and tortured me to pay attention to every detail by age eight. I was well-aware of the goings on of my parent’s marriage and the disintegration of it.

So, this morning in my laundry room, checking the cleanliness of the sink areas, came a thought. It was that my parents had a twenty-five-year mortgage on their home. My dad’s name was on the deed, not my mom’s. Then he turned over the deed in early 1981 upon their divorce, Before and after he had, he repeated to me over and over again that he hoped she’d lose the house. So, that we’d all be on the street. Of course, except him. He’d be living ‘high on the hog’. So, to speak—Imagine that. I could. And he did live ‘high on the hog’, after the divorce.

I could feel that vibe of the three of us being cast out onto the street—that I would do anything to thwart such a situation for my mother and my little sister. To the point, I began paying my mother’s mortgage before age eighteen and before I fulfilled my childhood dream of becoming a US Marine.  

By 1979, my brother had moved out. He tried to move back in, but his unwillingness to help out by just buying toilet paper or a loaf of bread were not in his equation. He was the prince. And only that was asked of him. My mother knew she could depend upon me for more. And I acquiesced, willingly. I understood it wasn’t about me, it was about ‘we’.

For I’d seen everyone not show up in my life, when it would’ve been nice. When we needed them the most. But we didn’t matter.  Too, I understood no one would. So, I decided to show up for others who’d no one shown up for. Be more noble than I could be. Rise higher even though fear chased behind me. Have fear push me higher, instead of lower. Rising above the minutiae. Because it’s all minutiae, at the end of your living, that’s what it is.

Back to today, I stood in the laundry room cleaning a sink and then it occurred. That thought—my dad never really wanted the responsibility of owning a home. As a matter of fact, he wanted no responsibility. And here I was and have been, up until now, wanting to be responsible. Nearing age sixty-two now, I’m nearing that time in my life that I’m done being overly responsible. I just want to follow my soul. I figured out part of that yesterday, as I found myself stopping my editing and writing prematurely. Yes, even for a non-workday for most—to me, it’s still my workday. Too, I’ve had meetings with producers on holidays. They’re shocked when I say, “Sure, I can work anytime.”.

Then yesterday afternoon, something told me to get out and go hiking. I’ve found and studied that’s what a healthy creative mind does. Taking a rest for apparently no reason at all and doing something else to gain creativity. Maya Angelou would tell you, “You don’t lose creativity…”.  I can attest, she was correct. You don’t.

So, I turned off my computer, checked the pets. Brought my food shopping list just in case my soul told me otherwise or in addition to the hiking. I soon was in the car driving to one park, when my soul encouraged me to make a left where I normally would go straight to another hiking area. My soul headed me off to another hiking area that I thought might be closed.  I realized this as I drove. And I followed my soul’s desire. I got to the hiking trail I didn’t think I’d do for another week, due to the weather.

The hiking trail was open, with few cars already parked. The frigidity I’d felt on my early morning run with a windchill near zero had changed to a mid-twenties feel at the trailhead. I got my gear on and up the side of the icy mountain I hiked. Slower than normal due to the ice on the rocks I had to climb up. Creeks and Brooks barely ran clear through. Their paths of ice were mostly fragile formations, yet some were worse—as they’d become inches thick with slippery solid ice. I shushed along, barely lifting my feet, holding my hiking sticks steady to remain safe.

Towards the end of my near three-mile snowy, icy hike I realized, following my soul’s desire now was attainable. It wasn’t so much so when you’re living other people’s cultured lives. As we humans are coerced into living a certain way due to culture and financial responsibilities. Portions of my life I’d allowed my soul to dictate, but not to the point where I’d just leave others in an unorganized, unrecognizable pile of disarray. As if to say, ‘Go figure it out yourselves. I’m outta’ here. You don’t deserve my presence or anything good that may come from it.’

I realize now that attitude is the one my dad had. He wanted only enjoyment in life. He didn’t realize that sometimes the struggles we have, we’ve either created, accepted, or they are part of our growth. The intention of Life is to assist us when we’re running away from it. Its okay to fight it, and then assess our issues. It’s okay to move forward in and out of our comfort zone. We need that. However, we have choices. They seem hard to figure out. But if we bank on delayed gratification,  and for a moment set aside what we construe as making us miserable. We might find something that we’d either been doing or not doing in all of our lives that we need to face then add and or detract from our lives to gain the enjoyment we seek.

My dad’s wish of my mother losing the house did not come true until twenty-five years later. She’d forgotten to pay the real estate taxes for three years. She worked two to three jobs at a time. Yet, her mental illness she refused to attend to put the ‘kibosh’ on her overall existence. And the enjoyment of her remaining life. My dad’s desertion of the family he helped create yet detested put him in a dissatisfied existence. Although he had enjoyed much more of life than my mother had. It wasn’t all he could’ve enjoyed. He cut it short by running away from his responsibilities. Too, wishing others ill-will for certain—created unhealth within a healthy realm inside of him.

All that, I realized created a single-mother mortgage on my mother. A burden created by misogynistic views. The refusal for a man to struggle with his ill wife, when he knew he had me to back him. I told him many times since age ten that I would be there for them. That was my verbal message to him. As well, I demonstrated showing him by age eleven that I could do his chores to alleviate his stress in some way. Time and time again he pushed further and further away. Then I released such ideology before age fifty. --- Jody-Lynn Reicher


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