I try to remember Mom, who she was, but it’s hard right now.
She was born in Austria in 1925. She lived there during WWII, when Hitler took over, and when the Americans bombed. She was forced into the Hitler Youth Corps during that time, which I could never get her to talk about much. It was after the war when she met Dad, who was in the Army stationed in Vienna. He came home to California, and eventually she got on a ship and travelled to Canada. She worked there for awhile to repay the cost of the ship fare. She was independent and she was brave.
It’s not clear that she came over because of Dad. They both have told me no, but I seem to recall them telling me yes at some point. When Mom was in the hospital back in 2009, and pretty delirious, she told me about a love of her life that she had, and it wasn’t dad, but I don’t know if that was a high school crush or what. When she was recently in the rehab facility, she would talk of her love and her lover (very uncharacteristic of her), and then cuss Dad out when he arrived because he was not her husband – I do not know in what world she was living in at that point. The reality is that my parents have been married for 61 years now, regardless of what happened before that, and that’s a VERY long time.
When Mom moved to the States with Dad, they moved to a very small town on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada, where Dad had gone to high school. Small towns can be difficult towns to live in. Small towns can be difficult to assimilate into, particularly when you are from a foreign land with the wrong kind of accent. They weren’t very kind to her.
I often wondered if she wondered what the heck she got herself into – travelling across an ocean, giving up an independent lifestyle in Canada, and moving to this hick of a town that wasn’t very nice to her, to a mother-in-law that also wasn’t very nice, and to a husband that she probably didn’t know very well at the time … she probably lost a lot of who she was.
She was nosy and snooped on us kids, but she really just wanted to be a part of our lives and know what was going on with us. My parents did a lot of things wrong raising us, but it was a different time. I am the youngest of three girls, now almost 54 years old, and the lasting memory I have of my mom is of her trying to help me, again and again, by figuring out ways to get around my dad. She was very proud of me, and in later years, more and more dependent upon me, until I had to pull back some. I know that she still worries about me, even in her compromised state.
I can’t help her in the home that she is in now with Dad blocking us at every turn, but I know that us kids are her last hope. Now we are the ones that have to join together to find a way around Dad to help her.