My Brazilian mother in her 20's

My Brazilian mother in her 20’s

Mom and I smoked Virginia Slims and carried on lighthearted conversations in my 20’s.  We became lushes together. She was a beauty born into a family of ten in Natal, Brazil, and had black kinky hair and hazel eyes. Her father was a tailor in a village where people came to him to mend their coats and sew buttons on their dresses. Her mother was a Brazilian slave, who in her later years became blind. Mom took on the responsibilities of doing dishes, cleaning the house and teaching school. There were tragedies in her family, as in every family, and she dreamed of marrying and coming to the United States. She was wed to a US army man, my father, who brought her to this country.  Her hopes were dashed when marriage ended in divorce. With determination she worked in a factory, studied to be a LPN and got us ready for school when we were small.  She married twice more and divorced. Each time these problems were an excuse for a drinking binge.

Mom’s days went from good to bad like a roller coaster; falling and rising from alcohol to resentment. She didn’t have the tools to forgive, love, and communicate her feelings and didn’t seek help from mental health professionals.  I never had the chance to ask, “Mom why are you the way you are?”  We didn’t speak of our personal feelings towards each other. To her I was a child who never grew up in and her eyes. I assumed she didn’t love me because she was an alcoholic. But she did seek help for me once when I was on the brink of a breakdown.

Today the pain, the hurt, the suffering has left and I am living a good life. I am refusing to hold everything against my mother and blame her for the way life dealt me.  Taking inventory and realizing that I did have some good years with her has helped me to accept the past and to heal. Right now I’m thankful for your ups and downs mom, and I’m thinking of how much you suffered.  I forgive you and I set you free.

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