I’d like to start off with a correction submitted via family. A credible source, a.k.a. my Aunt Delores, called my cousin to let her know the following reference to how my name was chosen in the previous blog. It states as follows:
“Dammit, I get blamed for everything! Dawn decided on DeRae months before she was born as an ode to me and Alice Rae but then we got in a fight and I wasn’t even allowed at the hospital or to see her for the first year of her life!”
I trust the pertinent source. Oops.
My mother’s birthday was this week. This year makes 3 years that she passed on a cold night before Thanksgiving. 20 years this year since my dad’s passing as well. Holidays are the hardest, for some odd reason. I wasn’t going to write a blog with this caliber of topic, but a very great friend gave me the courage to do so. All that I am is due to not having my father and excessive attempts to avoid my mother.
Oh, growing up with Dawn was not the easiest for me. She struggled greatly to find a good life balance between raising an intelligent, wild baby and raging on the weekends with God knows who. She had had a rough childhood, too, for various reasons. She had never finished college and couldn’t really hold a job for very long between wavering mental illnesses and just plain tomfoolery. Drug tests always had a mind of their own for her — “Oh, I don’t know what happened. I think they saw the Tylenol I took and misread the test,” she would say. She was always in some sort of trouble. Always.
I never had the mother-daughter heartwarming moments. She couldn’t order for me at a restaurant. She didn’t remember my social security number. She let me watch Silence of the Lambs and the Rocky Horror Picture Show when I was a small child because they were “so good” and tried to order me margaritas at dinner, but I wasn’t allowed to dance in my first competition because the costume was a sports bra and athletic capris.
She didn’t attend my college graduation. She called after to say that she couldn’t find a parking spot so she just left. Pretty typical. She did the same at my high school graduation.
I’ll never forget when one of the many times she had wrecked her vehicle. I had just given her money to buy it. It was an older Honda, and it was not the prettiest car but very sufficient for her to find a job with, at the least. She ran clear off of a straight road, right into a mailbox. The only fucking mailbox for miles. How? Oh, just wait….
“I vaguely remember there being a doggie in the road. I sure hope I missed it.” Now, I’ve ridden in a car numerous times with Dawn. She don’t stop for nothing; she don’t stop for mammals, mobiles, or your momma. I just knew she had to have been texting and clearly under the influence; therefore, I asked.
“Dawn, did they give you a drug test?” The all too familiar glance she took out the window as if Jesus himself was there to bail her out of that moment melted across her face. I knew what was coming…
“Uh, yeah. Actually they did. It didn’t come out right. I think people have been putting drugs in my food. I just don’t know why, I’ve been good”.
I took one glance at the nurse there, who clearly wanted to die. And then I lost it.
“DAWN, AIN’T NO FUCKING WAY THAT PEOPLE ARE PUTTING METH IN YOUR CHEESEBURGERS.” Out goes the nurse. Then out went me.
She took the insurance money from her wrecked Honda and purchased a newer Ford Mustang… and she wrapped it around a telephone pole a couple of weeks later.
We had an interesting relationship. I took care of a ton of things for her financially. She meant well, but she just didn’t do well. I’d receive a phone call that either went one of two ways:
“Hey DeRae, it’s Dawn. Your Mother (I have no idea why she felt the need to specify every damn time). I’m just seeing what you’re doing. Are you still in college? Can I borrow some money?” Or I got cussed out for being a piece of shit. It just depended on what day it was and how she was feeling.
People always had something to say. I have news for y’all: not everything is black and white. Not all mothers are created equal. Not every situation has this clear, shiny solution that you can flip to the last chapter of the fairy tale to find. My life was never a clear story. I don’t owe anyone a sappy explanation of why I did/do the things I do. If anything, I owe the people that were there when she wasn’t. Every football game. Every awards ceremony. Every graduation. Every birthday.
But, I did learn a great deal from her, except they weren’t intentional lessons. My favorite of all is that love is proactive. You can’t go around and expect people to help you. You have to give love to get it. She loved drugs and she passed enjoying the only thing that made her feel good. I can’t be too upset about it.