Sep. 4, 2020

WORDS AND ACTIONS ARE DEADLY WEAPONS...ESPECIALLY WHEN DELIVERED BY HEARTLESS EVIL.

Because of her money, my aging mother was treated like royalty in the small town of Pine Bluff. Growing old, she was made to feel like a queen by my daughters; Jack’s minister; the staff at the assisted living facility; and the medical team at Pine Bluff’s only hospital.  When my oldest daughter brought her grandmother/my mother’s laundry to my house, I was appalled at the tattered gowns and torn robe and immediately purchased new ones. With no one available to deliver my purchases, I decided to deliver them to my mother’s hospital room during my lunch break.  She seemed shockingly- surprised when I walked in her room.   The last time we’d crossed paths was at my brother’s funeral in the early nineties.  Supported by her loyal followers, she’d taken great pleasure in ignoring me and treating me like an outcast.

 Now, my mother was flabbergasted at my ability to be nice, despite the way she’d consistently treated me. I hung the robe in the closet, placed the gowns in a drawer and said “I hope you enjoy your day” and left.

Her room was hospital-ugly—void of color, life, or freshness—so I called the florist and ordered two large flower arrangements, both spring bouquets, delivered to her hospital room. One card was signed “Sally” and I asked the florist to sign the other card with my youngest daughter’s name. Why? Because, back in my hospital/volunteer days, I’d watched hospital staff and medical teams treat older patients with more dignity and respect when those patients were actively-loved and cared for by family; when they appeared to be appreciated by family, friends, and others. Appearance is everything.

When my mother was moved to an assisted living facility, I “dropped by” unexpectedly---a second time. She was trying to watch a very small and very old Television without a remote. The TV screen was so small my mother--unable to see a picture-- just listened to it like a radio.

The next day, I returned with a new television that had a much larger screen and a matching remote. My mother was sleeping at the time and… after placing the television on a night stand… I left the room. That day, at the request of the facilities director, I agree to return several days later and present a simple and short, music program for the residents.

About twenty people showed up for the program--most in wheelchairs and many who looked “surprised” like they weren’t sure where they were or why. My mother, also in a wheelchair, had been carefully positioned near the piano by an attendant.   Unlike Others in my audience, she insisted on talking and laughing with my ex-husband’s minister throughout my performance.  Ignoring her rudeness, I continued to play and sing old and familiar church hymns.

Before the program ended, my mother had the minister wheel her back to her room. She passed by without saying thanks for the TV or thanks for the songs. That was the last time I saw the woman who’d given birth to me almost seventy years earlier.

As a reader, you have every reason to wonder why I cared how my mother was treated; why I cared if she had life’s simple pleasures. It’s true; my mother turned her back on me from birth so—why should I care about her?

 I cared because, from childhood, I was taught God expects the best from us, regardless of how others treat us. I also cared as a matter of personal pride and public perception. Believe me when I say:  Nothing I did—the bed clothes, flowers, TV, or music program—was an attempt to soften my mother’s heart. Let’s just say, I did it for me.

At the end of 2010, my ex-husband Jack died and---six months later--- my mother stopped breathing.  It was no surprise that Jack left his daughters nothing and, it was no surprise my mother left my daughters everything. The surprise came when my daughters—now in control of considerable money and power—abandoned me. The children I’d birthed and loved always—walked away from me the day my mother died—without a backward glance.

The date was August 1, 2011.

 After my mother’s death, I wrote about the emotional events that took place. I specifically-detailed the words—decisions-- and actions-- taken by my daughters--their stepmother-- and their father’s family.   I wrote page after page....from the moment they called to tell me my mother was dead ....until they clarified I was not invited to the funeral…the gravesite… and was no longer part of their lives.

 I described the call I received from their lawyer--- threatening to sue me---if I didn’t allow my daughters to “re-claim” their long-ago possessions from MY house. The fact is: My children never once contacted me about getting their “possessions “.  Better-Still,  they had MY house key and could have "emptied" my house any day while I worked.

The last time my oldest daughter spoke with me--to tell me goodbye-- her very last words were: “If you ever hear I did something good for somebody or something—like a stranger or an animal—you should be happy, knowing, I learned from you.”  Happy?!?!?

My youngest daughter’s much-harsher last words were shared before my mother was buried: “You better not have the guts to show up at the graveside service, you crazy cunt.”

Sally Miller