Memories of My Mom

By on May 11, 2014
Karen Bystrom 1957

By Carol Doyel –

My mom was a soft spoken woman. Not one to share much about how she was feeling or her thoughts or dreams with others.  I never remember her talking poorly about anyone.  She was a bit of a mystery to me. As a young girl who talked a lot, to just about anyone who would listen, I found my mom odd. I didn’t understand her quiet and subdued nature. Years after my mom was gone, I believe I came to understand her better than when she was alive.

Sadly, my mother passed away in 1993 at the age of forty-nine.  Kind of ironic that all these years later I’m the founder of an online magazine and website called “LivingBetter50.com”.  I hadn’t given it much thought until about a year or so after starting my business that it occurred to me that my own mother never celebrated her 50th Birthday.

The pieces of her life that I’ve been able to put together over the years, after many years of being a wife and a mother myself, have helped me come to understand my mother’s life better and what might have attributed to her mysterious ways.

My mother married at the young age of fourteen with permission from her mother, my grandmother, to my father nine-years her senior.  I’m not sure that my mother married out of love as much as the idea of happiness as a broken girl. My mother was raised in less than desirable circumstances, with a father who was Swedish and did not speak very good English, and from what I understand was very in love with my grandmother.  Sadly after my grandmother left him, he committed suicide when my mother was a young girl.

shortly after marrying my father, her hope for marital bliss faded to the reality of a man that came with his own baggage and brokenness. After two years of the honeymoon stage, at sixteen years old, she gave birth to their eldest child – me.  I believe their lives during those first couple of years after I was born we’re maybe the best years of their marriage; but then who really knows the heart of a woman who keeps things to herself.

Two years later my little brother, Franky was born – the first baby of the New Year in our small town on Jan. 1, 1961 which was announced on the front page of the newspaper with a picture of my mother holding my baby brother.  Unfortunately, my brother lived only two months.

My mother’s family thought it would be best to remove my brother’s belongs when she was away at an appointment. Upon returning home she discovered all signs of her baby’s life swept away by good intentioned family members. Apparently that was not such a good idea. Months after my brother died my mother had a nervous breakdown.

I don’t remember anything significant about our lives in my early years until the year I turned five when my mother and father separated. I lived back and forth between my mother and her boyfriend’s and my father’s mother.  The relationship did not last long and my mother reconciled with my father.

I don’t think her decision to reconcile with my father was motivated out of her love for my father as much as her need for the familiar. I believe she did it to give me what she thought I needed – my mother and father, together. I believe she lacked the support and knowledge of what to do and the financial help needed to keep and care for me.

My mother never complained or talked much about her needs. And I never remember her talking about dreams or goals. A simple woman, yet strikingly pretty, most of the time mistaken for my sister instead of my mother.  She had beautiful skin and hazel eyes.  She loved listening to Hank Williams, senior, and loved Elvis Presley. I can remember watching Elvis Presley movies with her.  And occasionally she would crawl into bed with me to talk about girl things, laughing and being silly. I think in many ways my mother was still like that little girl longing for her daddy, long gone, as well as the idea of happiness which seemed to elude her.

Years later after having another girl and finally another son, my mother made a very difficult and heart wrenching decision. She left my father again. This time she would leave for good, in the middle of the night with just a paper bag filled with a few of her personal belongs, leaving behind her three children.

What compels a woman to do such a thing? I think I finally understand what drives a person to that point…desperateness, hopelessness, brokenness.  My mother unfortunately never found happiness and in the wake of her choice, my younger sister and brother were also wounded. My sister sadly never recovered and struggled all her life with addiction and depression and died at forty-two years old. My brother who is eleven years younger than me never knew my mother. He saw her only twice, once when we took him to an agreed upon place where we knew my mother would be so she could see him. She just wanted to see him.  The next time he saw her was in her casket.

You may wonder what this story has to do with Mother’s Day, a day that celebrates mothers and their special roles they play in our lives, and yet this has everything to do with Mother’s Day.  When I think about my mother I remember her sacrifice of leaving her children to a man who she believed would be lost without his son, having lost his first son, a daughter that was seven years old who adored her little brother so she couldn’t bear to split them up, and a fourteen year old daughter – me, who from her perspective must have seemed old enough to make my way in life; I had always been very independent, assertive, and strong. I believe my mother saw me from the eyes of that fourteen year old bride, in many ways her equal at that age.

The mystery of my mother was that she was heartbroken and lacked the strength to get help, so she withdrew keeping her thoughts to herself. It doesn’t seem fair and I know in my heart, she died from guilt and shame. She longed for a happy life, and I believe she longed to have her children but didn’t believe she deserved them, so she sacrificed everything. Not abandoned, but given up.

Unfortunately, many people had less than perfect parents or worse, were neglected or abused by parents who are suppose to care for them and love them. If you were hurt by your mom more than affirmed or nurtured, if your mother was not the mother you had hoped she could be, or for whatever reason you do not feel compelled to celebrate Mother’s Day, I encourage you to forgive her so that you can move beyond the hurt and pain. As adults we can choose to forgive and seek healing rather than continue to live in the pain, which is not life giving to you or those around you. Forgive and move on so that you can be released and be the mother or person you deserve to be!

If my mother was alive I would say to her, you did the best you could mom with who you were and what you knew to do, and I love you.  Happy Mother’s Day mom!

 

Carol Doyel is Editor-in-Chief and Founder of LivingBetter50.com. She is a graduate of The Full Gospel Bible Institute and has a passion for women’s ministries, issues and lives. She and her husband of 25+ years have three grown kids and three grandchildren.  They currently reside in southern CA. Her desire is to inspire women to live better physically, emotionally, financially, and spiritually.

Carol Doyel

About Carol Doyel

Carol Doyel is Editor-in-Chief and Founder of LivingBetter50.com. She is a graduate of The Full Gospel Bible Institute and has a passion for women’s ministries, issues and lives. She and her husband of nearly 30 years have three grown kids and four grandchildren. They currently reside in southern California. Her desire is to inspire women to live better physically, emotionally, financially, and spiritually.

3 Comments

  1. Beth

    May 11, 2014 at 3:58 pm

    Carol,
    You are a strong, faithful, loving woman. Deep inside of you is all the good from your mother, but she must have found it impossible, with all the silences in her life, to acknowledge that good. Blessings on you and yours, this Mother’s Day, Beth

  2. Kathi Casey

    May 11, 2014 at 8:01 pm

    Very brave to come forward with this personal story, Carol.
    Thank you for sharing it with us. Yes, many of us did not have June Cleaver for a mom. Forgiveness allows us to be all that we can be in our own lives and let go of the past that made us what we are today. I admire you for choosing that path!
    Kathi

  3. Janice

    May 11, 2014 at 8:50 pm

    That was a powerful message. God bless you for bravely and lovingly sharing it.

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Memories of My Mom