I made a first pass at the box of things mom sent to me when she was dying. There were two things I didn't expect. (1) I didn't expect so many momentos of us when we were babies. All kinds of congratulation cards, immunization records, baptism certificates, pictures & pictures. It stands out to me as overwhelmingly significant; maybe it's because I am thinking that something happened around the time when my brother was a baby (1970) or maybe it's because if what I believe is true (lobotomy / brain surgery that made her psychotic) then time stopped for my mother then. Or as she always said, she loved her "babies." She did love us when we were babies, according to her. All the pictures tell that same story. I someone out there in the universe is racking up evidence, then there is one point in her favor. It appears that at one time, she loved her children.
The other thing I didn't expect was to feel so very guilty. Selfish maybe. I know my brother took care of my mother when she was dying--the years it took. He took care of her, endured all the feelings that must have plagued him. And, looking at the box of things, it was clear my sister took care of my mother while we were growing up. I guess I knew that. The evidence is in the artifacts. Stupid things: storage container receipts, checks for utilities. All my sister's good grades. I rolled my eyes until I realized I was doing it, every time I picked up another one of her report cars. A, A, Excellent. I was glad that there was no evidence of my elementary and high school career. So, if they both took care of my mother--what did I do? I know what I did. When I was around 13 I started a mantra and I repeated it in my head every time I looked at my mother "I'm a master at the art of placating. I'm going to leave as soon as I can." I must have been the only one with a viable exit plan. Even my dad didn't know how to get out.
I did placate. I made my mom and dad laugh. I entertained them. I let them be the crazy people they were and I never reflected it back. Then, when the time was right, i was like "fuck you.." And they were stunned by my actions. It was justified for certain. I have all kinds of evidence of that. But I ripped myself out of their lives to live my own.
I feel bad about that.