Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Rest in Peace Ma HNT

I lost my step mother passed away after loosing her battle with cancer at the age of 85 years young. In early December Lori and I went to Florida for a vacation and we were fortunate to get together with her. Little did I know that would be the last time I'd see her.

I met Aunt Ruth, my step mother "Ruth Fleming Wilson Chliek" when I was about 10 or 11. Aunt Ruth and her first husband were friends with my mom and dad. They had two boys about the same age as my older brother and me. We all spent a lot of time together, but eventually our parents grew apart and were divorced. My father moved out and I lived with my mother, older brother and younger sister. That is, for a few more years.

A year or so later, my father and Aunt Ruth got married and moved to New York. My step brothers Eddie and Ricky lived with them.

That was 1963, and would have made me about 15 years old. I lived in Jacksonville Florida with my mom and sister. My brother was in the Navy by then. My sister was fine, but I was difficult to control and hanging out with "the wrong crowd". You know, smoking, drinking, beating up people in school, breaking into lockers, cutting classes and threatening teachers if they didn't give us passing grades. You know, all the usual things delinquents did in those days.

It had finally gotten too much for my mom to bare, so with one days notice, I was put on a bus for New York to live with my father and step mother. I arrived at the Port Authority bus terminal in mid town Manhattan with little more than the clothes on my back and a pair of shoes so worn, that the soles flapped as I walked. To say I was poor is an understatement. The $60 a week my mom made didn't go very far. The school hot lunch was my "big" meal of the day.

I was welcomed with opened arms by my dad and step mother. I can't say the same for how I welcomed them into my life. Sure I was happy to be back with my dad, but not so happy to be with someone I always called Aunt Ruth. My father wanted me to call her mom now. No way, I had a mom and Aunt Ruth sure wasn't it and I let her know it. "You're not my mom, I have a mom".

For, I don't know how long, I wouldn't even call her by name, not even Aunt Ruth. To me, she was "her" and "she". One day "she" wanted me to tell my father that "she" wanted him. I went outside and called out to my father, "She wants you!" He replied, "Who wants me?" My answer was, "You know, her." Eventually I comprimsed and called her Ma.

I'm sure it hurt my dad and step mom very much that I was rejecting her, but I really had no idea. I was the one that was hurt. The one that had been rejected by my "real" mother and was suddenly dumped on a bus to who knows where. I was happy where I had been and I didn't want to leave.

You know what? It was the best thing that ever happened to me. God only knows what would have happened to me if I had stayed in Florida. It was 1963 and prejudice was the norm. Race riots weren't uncommon. My friend's older brothers and father's were part of it all. If my mom hadn't shipped my off to New York, I'm sure I would have wound up part of it too. It may have even cost me my life.

It took me many years to figure that out, but thank God I did. I was finally able to forgive my mom and one day thanked her for loving me that much. That she gave me up to give me a chance for a normal life. That she gave me to a woman that would take me in, and treat me as if I was one of her own. To give me a "normal" life.

Thanks "Ma", I wouldn't be where I am today without you.



Osbasso said...

Again, condolences to you.

Vixen said...

So sorry to hear about your step mom. *hugs*


I'm so glad I got to meet her. We got to talk all afternoon and she enjoyed that. she even watched over me when I picked an orange from her back yard, fearing I would fall down the hill. She was a very special mother.

gab said...

sorry to hear Tony. You know Ive lost both of my parents now as of last year, so I know how hard it is. Both your mom and your step mom were great ladies. They both did what they needed to do to put you on the right road. Your mom shipping you to your dad and your step mom for taking you in and making sure you had a safe and loving place to be in those difficult days as a teen.