I called my mom and told her that in US today everyone celebrates their mothers. She laughed. She was pleased there is such a day, because there isn't one in Russia. Before I could say anything else, she told me, "I understand what you wanted from me now, when you were little." I said, "What's that?" She said, "I'm reading this book about the dissociative behavior and where it comes from...I understand you now." I said, "Thank you." This floored me. And something else, too. I realized it was my mother who taught me to seek answers to life's riddles in books. She would always read something to try to understand things. I said, "I'm so glad you're reading it." She told me how under-educated children's psychologists are in Russia, and how her mother in turn liked to put her into a psych ward every time she had one of her "moods."
This is what I remember well. That grandma would stick my mom into a "clinic" (they never told me what kind of a clinic it was) every other season, once in the winter, once in the summer. It was widely believed (across both my mom's and my dad's families) that my mom was "not normal," in the mildly crazy sense of the word. Only she was normal. There was simply no way for her to deal with the psychological garbage she carried from her childhood in an appropriate way. She didn't drink, she didn't smoke, she expressed her emotions raw and then departed from reality. My grandmother on my father's side would tell me horror stories how she would send my mom to get milk from the store, and instead of returning back home in 30 minutes she would show up 5-6 hours later, head down, eyes glassy, not speaking. I know exactly what she went through, but they didn't. They labeled her nuts.
And I grew up believing my mother was crazy. I grew up fearing I will turn out crazy too. And so I shunned her, I avoided her, at the age of 11 when my father offered to take me into his family and go to Germany, I gladly went, despite his despotic tendencies to hurt me and take out his hate for my mom on me (which at the time I didn't understand) as a way of disciplining me and raising me not a "psycho" and not a "whore."
The effects of this were devastating. It was only through years of therapy and by getting close to suicide that I started unraveling this mystery, and it is only now that I see how much my mom has done for me. She taught me to laugh at life's miseries and carry on. She taught me to read and to trust books when life around me fell apart. She taught me to see beautiful things in something that looked so ugly, you didn't want to set your eyes on it.
I asked her how she felt. She said that grandma was very sick and was hospitalized for pneumonia, after which my mom's body gave up and she got bronchitis. She coughed as she talked, and told me, laughing, "Imagine. I called the ambulance, but it's May 9th today, a holiday. And the dispatcher said, "Don't spoil the holiday. Can't you hold out until tomorrow?" Translation, "We're drinking here. Piss off, woman." And they didn't come to get her. She said she will try calling them tomorrow. This is modern day Russia for you, stripped of everything you read in the news.
But despite this she sounded happy. Because she is sick, she is staying with my sister and is for once out of that house where she had to take care of her father who died on her hands, and her mother who required a 24/7 attention. I could hear it in her voice. I only wish I could do more for her. I love her so much, I want to spend time together, while we can.
Which means, gotta write faster to get filthy rich quicker and bring her over here.
So I will get to work, then. This is for you, mom. I miss you. I love you. Happy Mother's Day to the best mom in the world.