September 10 was my mother's birthday and I've been thinking about her a lot lately.
When I was about 13, she told me she was leaving my father. Their relationship had been rocky for years and it was obvious that she was unhappy.
But there were signs much earlier...
When I was 7, she "ran away from home;" with me in tow. She went to Carolina Beach, rented a cottage, and we stayed there for a few days.
I remember clearly eating hamburgers and instant mashed potatoes while she cried a lot and didn't talk.
Even at my young age, I think I saw the end of my parents relationship. I wondered if I'd live with my mother or my father. I didn't know which would be worse.
But they got back together after a few days. She used a pay phone to call my father. From the car, I watched the tears and her mouth form words that I couldn't hear.
The next morning, my father showed up and drove us home; my older brother driving my father's car.
But they didn't divorce when I was 13. Soon after the talk, the doctors found a tumor for which she had surgery.
My father stayed by her bedside and waited on her diligently while she recovered.
Soon after, he went for a routine physical and the doctor found what he thought might be cancer. He went into cancer treatment, which kept him alive for years.
My mother couldn't leave him after a cancer diagnosis. She was very concerned with how things looked and she couldn't leave a dying man no matter how much she despised him.
I know this sounds calloused and I shouldn't paint such an ugly picture the day before the anniversary of my mother's birth.
But I've been thinking about her...