It had been three years since my mom had been in a committed relationship and she seemed to be enjoying her life of freedom. She loved to dance, so as many nights as possible, she would hit the dance clubs with
her friends and dance the night away. It certainly kept her slim and trim and at 5’10” she definitely made heads turn. Mom always made sure she dressed very stylish and her makeup and hair had to be perfect. She dated, but no one really appealed to her enough to take her away from her fancy-free single-parent life.
Mom worked for a large company and when the opportunity came her way, she put in for a job change that would bring her more money. Shortly after moving to her new job, she invited a few of her coworkers to the house for a “get to know each other” party. Bill was a guy who stood out, but not in a positive way. Mom shared with me that she stayed as far away from him as possible and that suited her just fine. He was too loud, too silly, and homely. Bill had a splotchy red complexion, and hair that was glued together with hairspray. If he got caught in a 50 mile-an-hour wind storm, his hair would all move at as a single unit.
After avoiding Bill for several weeks, one day my mom overheard him talking to someone who appeared to be having a problem. Mom said that Bill was so understanding and compassionate, that it really took her back for a minute. Was this that guy who didn’t have a serious bone in his body? Obviously there was another side to this person that she had not expected.
As you got to know Bill you realized he wasn’t just the clown that kept everything light and fun. He was that guy who always had a shoulder to cry on and would drop everything to help someone in need. It seems almost unheard of these days when someone is willing to forget what they are doing or where they are going, to just give you their time freely. This was the first thing that seemed to draw her to him and it was obvious that her feelings for him were growing stronger and stronger.
Mom said she could talk to Bill about anything and sometimes their discussions went on for hours. Mom told me he was an avid reader, so he would tell her things she had never heard of before. He would tell her about science and what things we might see happen in the future, explain to her how the battles began in the Middle East, and he was well versed on just about any subject you can think of.
Maybe her admiration of him went too deep. I began to feel that Mom had such an elevated opinion of Bill’s wisdom, it overpowered her own self-confidence.
When Mom and Bill did anything, it was going to happen how Bill wanted it to or it wasn’t going to happen at all. If he got up early, she had to get up too. If they went somewhere together, they left when Bill was ready. Her friends and family, including my sister and me, began to see less and less of her. If they spent time with anyone, it was usually Bill’s circle of friends or family.
I felt like I had lost my Mom. She had always been so strong and independent; it was hard for me to see her this way. How could she have let this person have such total control of her for five long years, completely unchecked?
I remember the day mom came home from her sociology class and told me what her instructor had said. He was talking to the class about how he is an “early bird” and his wife is a “night owl”. Mom jumped on this one and asked him how he handled that. He said he would get up early and read his paper, have a cup of coffee and would let his wife sleep in. If someone had slapped her right in the face, it couldn’t have woken her up any more than that instructor’s words. She realized there were caring people out there who actually let you be yourself? Of course there were! She just needed to remember what her life was like before Bill. Better yet, before she lost herself.
Of course, the relationship disintegrated when she began to demand things that she wanted, but at least Mom was free to be herself again. If I can’t have a love relationship that allows both of us to be who we are, I can live without it and I know Mom can too!