I said awhile back that I would do a blog on my Mom. Seeing as how Mothers day rapidly approacheth, what better time to pay tribute to the woman who gave me this delightful joy of being in the kitchen.
She was born in 1937 and by the time 1956 rolled around, she was hitched to my Dad. People say my mother was a looker. I never saw that myself, she's my mom. As luck would have it, my brother was born first in 57, I followed in 60,
my sister in 62 (Two more would follow in 72 and 74). In 1959 my father invited the Jehovah’s Witnesses into their house and before I was born, they'd become baptized dedicated members of that insidious cult.
When we were very little, my Dad loved us because we amused him. My Mom loved us because she liked us. She liked to be with us, talk to us, play with us and teach us. She taught us that we were worth it and perhaps for that alone,
she wins the cup in my book but there is just so much more.
Growing up a little Jehovahs Witness kid was hard in the 70's but it was harder to be a wife of a JW. In the Jws, women were second class citizens and in our house, my mom had to contend with both her theological position and the hard scrabble 30’s attitude
towards women that my father held. There were no bra burnings in our house.
Despite that, my mom was a humorous engaged lady. I’ve described my mother before as being the hardest working woman I’ve ever met who never had a job. There were no times during my childhood when I
can remember my Mom without a giant garden. We weren’t poor but we were so damned close it was hard to tell sometimes but our table never reflected our financial situation. All Mom had to buy were staples - flour, coffee, meat, sugar, milk. The rest of it
including our eggs and chickens came from the efforts of my parents toiling in that back yard, most specifically my mother.
I remember so many times being out playing with my sibs while Mom pulled weeds. While inside, I would sometimes just watch my mom. It was doing this that I discovered that Mom had a special gift. On
our property lived a wiley old black rabbit. My brother and I spent many an hour trying to get close to that guy, softly cajoling him, trying to get close but of course, we never had a chance. One day. Looking out the window I saw my mother bent over holding
something and when I looked down, she was feeding that old black rabbit. I was gobsmacked. That old black rabbit had led us on many a chase and I firmly believed he hadn’t a social bone in his body and there he was, calm and happy as can be while my Mom fed
him fresh garden lettuce.
This was to be the first time that I discovered my Moms ability to commune with animals. I saw it again, many times over the years. The last time I saw it, but certainly not the last time it ever happened
I’m sure, was about 25 years ago. I’d gone out to see my mother at her house out in the country. Her house was right beside the road and opposite her house, across the road was a large open field in which stood a large tree. The tree was right beside the road
and up from my Moms drive, about 30 feet. I’d driven up to my Moms and we were standing outside talking while her little Pomeranian yapped about. While talking, I kept noticing movement in that tree, finally staring it in disbelief as I recognized a cougars
tail swishing back and forth. Alarmed I told my Mom to quick move towards the house, there was a cougar in that tree yonder!
Of course my Mom had me immediately stand down, the cougar had been there all day and on many days. He was just taking the shade don’t ya know? Relax.
That was my Moms extrasensory gift. In conversation with her over the years she spoke of this and poo pooed it as being nothing, why her aunt could heal and her cousin could see, and so on. I thought
this totally cool and some day, maybe, I’ll do a blog on what part of that bloodline that made it into my own veins.
All through my childhood there was a litany of deer and rabbits, squirrels, birds. Who feeds a crow from their hand? Come on. One side effect of all that was that it made us kids, easy with nature. My
brother and I did a lot of our growing up in the bush and we were never scared of anything in that bush except for cougars. Damned cats are evil.
Anyhow, my mom and that garden. You can’t know the exception of fresh creamed baby vegetables unless you’ve ever had them like my mom made them. First, you need to sew the vegetables yourself and then
go dig them up just hours before you’ll serve them. Baby carrots, potatoes and peas. I am capable of making dishes that turn heads but I spend my time in the kitchen with a much loftier goal, I want to make food as simply delicious as my Moms creamed baby
My mom was a good cook. As adventurous as she could be on a limited budget. I wish I could go back in time and inject another $10,000 a year into our budgets, just to see the difference it would have
made in our culinary lives if that lady had been able to buy whatever she wanted at the Overwaitea.
Sigh, so I had to grow up with fresh home made bread, not all the time but often enough that it seems like a common memory. I think we didn’t have it all the time because my Mom had the same trouble
as me making brown bread. Tasty but short and thick. The bread of course lent itself to home made cinnamon buns and assorted sweet rolls. Cookies and cakes were a constant and my god did we try to empty those containers but we never managed it.
On top of the food, which was simple but plentiful, my Mom had a sewing machine. My brothers and my own clothes came from wherever it could be purchased cheaply. My Moms and sisters clothes came from
that treadle powered Singer. How much clothing? Well we all had the regular amount and then we had the JW stuff. Us boys had to have suits, the girls, going to church dresses. Our suits were given to us and by the time those suits emerged from my moms talented
hands from that Singer, you’d never know they were cut for anyone other than yourself. We dressed up well and that was because my Mom could make a purse out of a sows ear. I saw her do it, wore it to church, 5 times a week and out in the service ministry on
But back to the food. Moms culinary chicanery piqued my interest, and my brothers too and we wandered into Moms kitchen with eager curiousity on many occasions and that curiousity was always met with
open arms. My Mom made that kitchen fun. How many ten year olds make Sesame Chicken? Burned the hell out of it too but not so bad that Mom couldn’t pick off the burned bits and praise the dish to heck and back at the supper table. The spice cake in which I
put in a teaspoon full of whole fully formed cloves. My Mom said just spit em out, good cake! You get the picture, she was oh so supportive.
The wheels fell off my Mom and Dads marriage in 1977. I’d moved out the year previous, mostly to get away from my Dad. How ironic it was when my Dad needed a place to stay after he and my Mom split and
he moved into my apartment for 3 months. ARRRRG.
Just for the record, as a teen, I despised my father. As an adult I find in him a friend and companion who I admire deeply, just so ya know.
The rest of what I will tell you about my Mom isn’t a happy story. Any good writer would just end it here and leave with you a reasonably pretty picture of a woman you will never know painted in a modestly
happy light. I’m not that writer however.
While I was a kid, being a part of the Jehovah’s Witnesses was more of a pain in b u t t than anything else. Only my dad seemed to take it seriously and of course that meant that we all had to also.
While my Mom never once spoke out against this ‘religion’ while we were growing up, I can look back and there was just such a sense of …’ok, I’ll go along with this for now’, about her. It was enough, at least for me, that I could never give my whole heart
to Jehovah. I did quake in fear a lot though. Being told you’re going to die because you don’t have the right heart condition can be dismaying when you’re just entering puberty.
After my Mom and Dad divorced, oddly it was my father who fell away from the religion first but only so far. He remains a believer but in his mind only. He does not do any JW stuff, no meetings or proselytizing
but he reads the literature and makes no bones about keeping to the tenets. No Christmas, birthdays, blood etc…
My Mom kept going to the church for a few years but of course she was a divorced woman. Scourge. That’s a good word for it. As a woman she held a tenuous place in Jw society that was only cemented by
way of her husbands virtuosity within the church. Absent that, she became this awful impossible thing, a woman worth so little, even her husband cast her aside. This of course despite the fact that my Mom left my Dad. It wasn’t long before my Mom realized
that this was pretty f**ked up and she moved 400 miles back to her childhood town and she left the Jw’s behind.
Of course we all followed. My three sisters still lived with my Mom when she moved and my brother and father came too, my brother in the same town, my father in the area. Eventually I came too and you
gotta know I left that freaking cult behind the instant my skinny little 16 year old behind exited our house for the last time.
As the years went by, my Mom settled in to the task of raising my remaining sibs on a pittance of child support and welfare.
Welfare you say? Yep, my Mom became a welfare mom. It’s funny that I have these other sisters, the two youngest because I left home so young that I never got to know them as siblings. Further to that,
they were raised in a completely different environment. They are my blood and I know my neighbours better.
So now my Mom was worse than being a divorced woman in the eyes of the JW. She was a divorced woman on welfare. This would have all been just a sorry state of affairs but my brother stayed in the JWs
, along with my two eldest sisters. As he rose in prominence within the JW church, as his stock rose among the powers that be, my mother became more and more of an embarrassment to him. She was still technically a JW to them because she’d never officially
left. The Jws have rules about such things and because she’d never officially left, in their eyes, she was still technically a JW. Of course to my Mom, they were a group of misguided thugs, enough said.
Unfortunately when my brother became an elder, a position of authority within the church, he did so on the back of his disdain for my mothers apparent disregard for his religion. To further cement his
status within the church, which is often defined by your zealotry, my brother undertook the disfellowshipping of my Mom. She needed to be removed from the rolls.
This is where the JWs and other mainstream religions really start to diverge. As a young man, I knew for certain that I didn’t want any religion in my life but I always maintained that if you needed
one, the Jws were certainly the best one. That is until my brother implemented the disfellowshipping of my Mom.
Some of you may have read about a tribe in Africa that carries out death sentences in their tribe by simply sentencing the guilty to death. Then they consider him dead. That’s it. The condemned are ignored,
un-touched, unfed, unclothed. No one speaks to them, or engages them in any way; ever again, they’re dead. The consequence of this is that more often than not, the condemned die.
Being disfellowshipped by the Jws is very similar. The Jws claim that family may maintain contact with the DF’d person but that it’s a ‘personal’ choice, wink wink nudge nudge. In one fell swoop, my
brother and two oldest sisters made a personal choice to consider my Mom dead to them.
At first my Mom took it in stride, her social circle had largely been replaced by her own non jw family and other regular folk so she didn’t have that immediate transition to make. But as first my oldest
sister and then the middle sister wandered off into the JW fold, my mother found herself recoiling from the heartlessness of their actions. She would be out with my youngest sister at the mall and my Mom would run into my brother, his wife and their kids and
they would turn their heads and walk away without acknowledging her as fast as they could, like she was the devil.
It made my mom sick.
In looking back at this, it’s so obvious what happened but at the time I didn’t know what was going on with my mom. She just got ill. She was 58. The illness was undefined, she described it as feeling
like her guts were moving around like snakes. Doctor after doctor became her saviour and as her illness progressed, first her long term boyfriend abandoned her, then my youngest sister escaped without her sanity but not a jw. Alone, my moms decent into the
madness of depression, continued unabated and it manifested itself as illness. It made her sick. Being sick certainly brought me running. Over the years it actually brought my sibs around occasionally too. Being sick got my Mom the attention she so desperately
needed. Unfortunately it exhausted everyone and when I found myself embroiled in a relationship with a woman who was an undiagnosed Borderline, my Mom lost me too.
As near a picture as I can put together over those years shows a woman descending deeper and deeper into depression caused madness. I kept up with my Mom on the sly, don’t ask. If you’ve lived with someone
with a mental illness, you’ll know what I mean. If you haven’t then I’d need to write a book to make you understand. I watched my mom get kicked from ministry to ministry, she basically gave up on life, consistently telling any and all about the insidious
illness that was eating up her insides and as she moved from residence to residence, undergoing ECT, and countless meds. It ate her up.
When finally I extracted myself from the relationship I’d been in, I took a year to heal and when I found myself again, I was being constantly bombarded by calls from the special needs retirement home
she found herself in. It all turned out that my Mom’s abilities had so diminished that she was no longer capable of looking after her own finances. In 2007, I gained her power of attorney and took over her finances. It took me a year to untangle that mess.
I probably have done an injustice in detailing these years, both to my Mom and to myself. Probably to my sibs too. I know my brother needs medication to get through his day now, mood stabilizers. He
gets depressed. I don’t really know, I hear of this anecdotally though my father. My oldest sister and I last spoke about 4 years ago briefly. I ran into her while Christmas shopping by myself and we broke bread together. At the end of that meal we both openly
decided that it would be absolutely a good thing if we never saw each other again for the rest of our lives. They both, along with my middle sister remain Jws.
My mom has settled finally. She’s 74 and lives in a special needs retirement facility in the next town over. She likes it there but describes her neighbours as not being ‘with it’. I go see my mom fairly
often, I take her out for Mothers Day, family gatherings (hers) and I always have her over for Christmas. I make sure she has a bird, that her scooter runs, hairdressing, foot rubs etc..She doesn’t walk so well so it’s tough to get her involved in much. One
of her few visitors is my father. She pretends not to know who he is and this amuses him.
There is of course the result of all those years of depression and the medical attention that engendered. My mom is a shell of who she once was. She’s needy and self centered, greedy and completely self
involved. She looks and smells like the woman I adored growing up and I stand beside her based on that memory but she in no way IS that woman. I honestly don’t know this one. We can talk and laugh but every inch of her social grace is geared towards what it
can bring into her life. You can feel it and when you hang with her for awhile, you can see it. I love my Mom, I do. This stuff though, it’s really hard.
My family, having been in the Jehovah’s Witnesses suffered a grave injustice from that involvement. From 1997 until last year I was a part of and ran one of the largest Ex-Jw sites online, extending
a helping hand to those who encounter the peculiar injustices of having been involved with this malicious evil cult. My own story is pretty harmless compared to the tales I could tell you.
Have I made my position clear on this? Lol.
So that’s my tribute to my Mom, such as it is. It’s not a pretty story but it’s one that needed to be told. Thanks for your time.