The World Didn’t Stop For My Broken Heart

It’s that time of the year when regardless of what is going on in my life, good or bad, that I’m more a little more withdrawn from everyday life and, usually, quiet.  (Late last week and this past weekend was an exception.)

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Since 1990, the first week of November is typically a tough week for me and my sister.  Our mother, Dessie, died 22 years ago today.

My mother was a God-fearing and loving woman with a heart of gold.  She was a hard-worker that died making $3.80/hour in a plaster lamp company.  It was a hard job, but she never complained despite being in pain.  When we were growing up, she would go without medication to make sure that my sister, Tammy, and I had what we needed.

We lived in a roach-infested, small two bedroom apartment all through my childhood and she lived there until she died.  She never complained about what we didn’t have, she was always grateful for what we did have.

When she died, I was waiting tables and bartending at a restaurant in Paducah, Kentucky.  I would take her and my grandmother, Helen, out to lunch and dinner on a regular basis, but there isn’t a day that passes that I don’t wish that I could have done more for her.

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Some have praised me for being such a good brother to my sister and I think I am.  Tammy is my last surviving relative (not counting cousins) and I want to be there for her.  And, there’s a part of me that knows I reach out to her to try to make up for what I wasn’t in a position to do for my mother back then.

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My mother was one of my best friends.  You know they say that a boy’s best friend is his mother.  I agree with that.  My mother was always there for me and my sister, when my father wasn’t.

She might have been a God-fearing woman, but you didn’t want to tick her off.  I remember my mother telling me and my sister that if someone was threatening to beat us up or hurt us to “pick up the first thing you find and knock the hell out of them with it.”

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While my mother and I never really discussed my being gay, she supported me getting my ear pierced on my 21st birthday when my father was opposed to it.

She knew that I started spending time with “friends” at college and sneaking into the gay bar when I was 20, and she liked my first college boyfriend.

She had to be cool with the “unspoken” since she bought me the “Colour By Numbers” album in the fall of 1983.

On that dreadful morning, November 7, 1990, when my sister called me to tell me of her death, my world crumbled.  I didn’t just lose my mother, I lost my friend.

My sister and I planned the funeral and we made it through.  One of the songs that I chose for the funeral was “Wind Beneath My Wings” by Bette Midler.

That Christmas was a solemn one.  I can’t remember anything that I bought for my sister and her family, my grandmother, Helen, or my best friends, Steve and Dennis, but I do remember what my sister bought for me.

My mother had already put our Christmas presents in layaway.  I had chosen a $30 stone-washed denim jacket at Wal-Mart and the VHS copy of “Pretty Woman”.  I’m writing this Tuesday evening and I’m tearing up.  My sister got those things out of layaway for me that Christmas and I’ll cherish that jacket forever.

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Over the next three years, I chose to be single because I didn’t want to get close to anyone and I listened to a lot of sad Bette Midler tunes (“Some People’s Lives” & the “Beaches” soundtrack played all the time), along with Reba McEntire.

I discovered Reba the summer before my mother died.   I’ve always said that no matter what’s going on in my life, good or bad, when she released new music, it was meant for me.  And, that seemed true in the fall of 1991.  As we neared the one-year anniversary of my mother’s death, Reba released the single and album “For My Broken Heart”.   For Reba, it was about saying goodbye to the eight members of her band (and two pilots) killed in a plane crash near San Diego, California in March 1991.  For me, it was about the loss of my mother, my friend.

Three years after my mother died, my grandmother Helen, who I lived with and helped take care of died the same week that my mother did.

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At that point, it was time for me to fly.  The following summer, in July 1994, I moved to Chicago to experience real life on my own for really the first time and it was incredible.  I’ve gone through highs and lows in the past 18 years since leaving Kentucky, but with no regrets.

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On this day, as I remember my mother, Dessie, and my grandmother, Helen, I’m grateful for all that God has blessed me with in life and that he’s given my sister, Tammy, a second chance after her heart attack in early December of last year and that she’s living in the Quad Cities with me now.

My mother would have loved Ray and Gretel and would have loved seeing me become a dad.  I know I’m very happy to be called husband and dad.

And, I’ll end this on a happy note because Reba comes through for me once again.  As I’ve blogged several times, she has a new comedy on ABC called “Malibu Country” and although she doesn’t have a new album out, she has released some new music.  And, the new song, “Goodbye Looks Good On Me” is a perfect anthem for me these days in light the changes in my life in the past week!  Here’s to holding on to the memories of my mother and my grandmother and looking to the future.

Anthony

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17 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Janet Robinson on November 7, 2012 at 8:10 am

    Hi Anthony! Great blog I love to read them! Have a good day. Glad OBAMA WON!!!

    Reply

  2. Posted by Regina Sanderson Morgan on November 7, 2012 at 8:30 am

    It makes me sad that we went to school from 1st grade through 12th grade in small classes and graduated a small class and I never knew what all you were going through at times. I wish I had taken the time to be more of a friend to you and gotten to know you better. The most admirable thing is all that you have accomplished despite not have the best situations at times and being the best son and brother to your family and giving to your family now the best of everything you did not have so that their life is richer for it. You, my friend, are definitely a survivor!! Yes, I am a Reba fan also!!!

    Reply

    • Regina,

      That is too kind and sweet of you to say. Don’t get me wrong. I was never really bullied in high school. I did my academic thing and I guess, at the time, it really didn’t appear to me to be weird that I didn’t have any friends outside of school. My mother and my grandparents were my friends. Maybe that prepared me for adulthood better.

      I have no regrets and I don’t want you to feel bad. If I had it to do over, however, I would have played basketball. I was pretty good on the courts in the neighborhood.

      I hope we have a reunion one day or maybe I should just come back to Kentucky one weekend and call the group together. It would be nice to know you all now. 🙂

      I’m happy to have found another Reba fan. Take care, my friend, and no regrets. 🙂

      AP

      Reply

      • Posted by Regina Sanderson Morgan on November 8, 2012 at 8:34 am

        Definitely no regrets, makes us who we are. I hope that when you are in KY, that you will try to get in touch. I would love to catch up also. And yes I am a huge Reba fan and I love the new sitcom. How could it have not been awesome!

  3. Posted by Kerry Riley on November 7, 2012 at 8:53 am

    Hugs

    Reply

  4. Posted by Margie on November 7, 2012 at 9:16 am

    Hi Anthony, as usual I love reading your blogs! Such a heartfelt one at that. This brought tears to my eyes. I am touched by your words once again concerning your family. This is so special, and thank you for sharing this with us. Gives us some insight just what a very special person you are. We are so lucky to have you in our lives. Hugs to you Anthony!

    Reply

  5. Posted by Kathy Markham McCoy on November 7, 2012 at 10:55 am

    What strong, loving, beautiful women you have had in your life, Anthony (and I include Tammy as one of them!). Your mom & grandma live on in you, the values they instilled make you the caring man you are today. I know they are proud of you.

    Reply

  6. Posted by Wanda on November 7, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    I hear ya on the month of November. It’s not my favorite, I lost mt husband, best friend, lover, kid’s Dad on November 10th, 1993. He would have been 43 years old. I’m tearing up too as I’m writing this. Then we went on a 4 month strike at work, Old Servus Rubber plant. Seems like nothing was going right, I kept asking WHY God is this happening to me? I blamed myself for along time on his passing if I could have just did something. But things happen for a reason and it was his time to go. I’m sure they are all having a Blast up in Heaven and smiling down on us. Bless U Anthony for all U have done and continue doing. Mom & Grandma would be so Proud of U.

    Reply

  7. Posted by Lisa Taylor on November 7, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    Anthony, I don’t really mean to turn this around to be about me, but tomorrow, Nov. 8th, I lost my Mom to cancer. I like you wished I could have done more for her while she was here on Earth with us, but at the time we all (my sisters & brother) did what we could to make her passing peaceful, which I can truly say happened she went the way she wanted to. She never had to work like your Mom had to, but she took care of all 6 of us children, and loved us all!!! She volunteered at our school, catered all kinds of events for our schools, weddings, funeral dinners. She was a great cook, and was a Good Friend to anyone who would listen to her. She endured my sister’s death at the age of 33, leaving two small children behind, which we all dealt with, but am happy to say they are healthy, happy Adults!! You have such a Big Heart, and I know that you did all you could do at the time, but never live with
    regrets!! I know that you were the Best Son EVER!!! Love to you, and know that I
    am thinking of you today, and this week, and forever.

    Reply

    • Lisa,

      Thank you very much for sharing the story about your mother. It helps to talk about how great they are. My thoughts will be with you tomorrow. Smile for her. I have for my mother.

      Take care, my friend,
      AP

      Reply

  8. Posted by Connie Huizenga on November 7, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    Anthony- I hope that you feel the hugs that I am sending you. Having your Mother and Grandmother as your best friends has given you an insight that most people never achieve. I understand your loss. Jan. 12 through Feb. 6 is the time of the year for me to feel my loss. I lost my Dad, 2 Grandmothers, and 1 Grandfather in that time. I get through it remembering what they taught me and what I can now pass on to others. By me being able to pass their lessons on to others, they are able to live on. Take care.

    Reply

    • Connie,

      Thank you for the sweet words. I’ll be thinking of you early next year when you remember those that you’ve lost. The same thing that gets your through it is what those wonderful women taught me.

      Take care, my friend.

      AP

      Reply

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