I was an ungrateful daughter

For Emilie, Katie, and Emma Grace ...

Every time I have an opportunity, I try to instill in my grandchildren that their parents love them and they should remember to be respectful and grateful for everything their parents have done, and continue to do, for them.

I wasn't.

We have such different perspectives of situations and life as adults. When I ponder about my childhood and teenage years, I'm horrified that I was so unruly and ungrateful. It's little wonder my mother had no idea how to handle me.

I was a full foot taller than she was. I was headstrong, demanding, and at the time, repeatedly told her I didn't love her. I. She was a young widow at 41 years old. She was working an unbelievably difficult job in a textile mill, trying to feed us, keep a roof over our heads, and dealing with an impossible teenager - a daughter who had been the apple of her daddy's eye... who was probably having issues dealing with the death of her father. I have no idea how she managed.

Once I disliked the man she'd begun to date. I am sure I felt like she was being unfaithful to my daddy, even though he was gone. For Christmas, the man gave me a strand of pearls. They were beautiful. I unwrapped them, screamed I hated him and my mother, broke the string of pearls, and threw them. I grabbed the keys to my mother's car, ran from the house, and jumped in to take a joy ride. I was 13 years old. I drove around, got lost, and finally found my way home. I was afraid this might be the time she lost it with me, but I was wrong. She met me outside, stretched out her hand for the keys and said, "Don't ever do this again."

She would threaten to whip me and go outside to get a hickory switch. She would have to chase me around the table to try to punish me, and finally, in despair, she'd give up.

My friends in high school were wearing Villager skirts and shirts and carrying John Romaine purses. I demanded these, too. I didn't care that my mother was making $3000 a year working all the overtime she could get at the mill. One day I came home from school on my birthday, and there were two Villager skirts, two shirts, a John Romaine purse, and navy alligator loafers on my bed. These gifts probably cost my mother 4 months of her paychecks, and yet, I don't remember saying "thank you." I don't remember hugging her. I was sticking to my "I hate you routine." I tear up and cringe when I recall this.

I was terrible. Probably unlovable. Definitely unappreciative.

Once I went shopping with friends and put a swimsuit on lay-a-way because I had a job making $7/day at the local beauty shop. When she found out, she drove to the store and paid off the suit. She told me never to layaway anything and to always pay cash. Did I listen? You know the answer.

She cared for my dog when I neglected her, which was most of the time.

Shortly after my daddy died, we began receiving hang-up calls. They frightened me. She'd been leaving me alone at home while she worked the midnight until 8 shift at the mill. I refused to stay alone when the phone calls started. I cried. I begged. She couldn't afford a sitter, so she sneaked me into the mill, deposited me in a huge yarn bin, covered me with yarn, and rolled me around with her while she worked the huge machine. I fell asleep in the yarn bin, and today I have two afghans she had made from that yarn.

I was ashamed of her and ashamed of where we lived. I was ashamed that she was uneducated. As I write these words and recall these times, I want to tell her how sorry I was that I was an awful daughter...that I didn't love her and appreciate her more. I hope she knows now. And when I shed tears like I am right now wondering how many times I hurt her feelings and about all the times she just swallowed her disappointment, I want to say, "Mama, I'm so sorry. Please forgive me. I love you and would give anything to have you here now."

Love and cherish your parents, my wonderful grands. Be better than I was. You don't want to bear this same burden of guilt. I've carried it almost 47 years, and it's horrible.

This is a series of stories I'm writing because my older granddaughters gave me a journal years ago, and I've neglected writing in it. Recently I asked the oldest Emily if I should just write about the good. She said they want it all - the good, the bad, and the ugly. This blog will become that neglected journal.