A few months back I was hanging out with friends I’ve known almost my whole life. I was catching them up on my mother, and then we reminisced about back in the good ‘ol days, before her mental illness completely overtook her. My friend said, “I remember your mom’s laugh. She had a great laugh. She was an easy laugh. I liked that.”
On the very rare occasions when I get to talk to Mom instead of Schizophrenic Mom, it’s pretty great – when she’s not talking about her pet bees, or the people following her, or the people yelling at her through the karaoke machines. When she laughs and smiles, she’s normal, and I cherish those moments.
I have to admit, I get part of my sense of humor from my mom. I enjoy telling ridiculous jokes (a piece of string walks into a bar…) and giving silly gifts. Last week, Mark went out to the Bay Area to help her with a few things and drive her to the doctor, and as usual, she sent him home with gifts. This batch was wrapped in pink tissue paper and tied with bows. When we started unwrapping them, we realized they were bags of beans with recipes attached. BEANS. My mother gave us eight bags of BEANS as a gift. This, by far, surpasses all. I laughed so hard… Only my mother… Only my life…
This gesture reminded me of the good times I’ve had with her. Shopping trips to San Francisco and watching Pure Country for the hundredth time in our PJs are my favorite memories.
If I had to guess, I’d say 85% of my life with her was bad, and 15% was pretty good (and that’s being generous). When you have a mentally ill parent, and you go through the REALLY hard times – nervous breakdowns, paranoia, meanness – it’s hard to sift through all that crap to find the good times. For years I didn’t even remember the good times because I was so overwhelmed with the bad times. I’m really glad that I’ve found the good memories, because they help me to be at peace, and they help me realize that underneath all the craziness is a mother who loves me.