Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: BROKEN (12/06/18)
TITLE: Fifty-two Shades Of Grace
By Leola Ogle
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“Ouch.” Mom slaps at my hands. “You pulled my hair. You’re hurting me on purpose.”
Mom’s angry, sarcastic voice transports me back to my childhood. Hovering under the covers, hiding in closets, trembling, failing to hold back tears. My young heart plagued by feelings of shame and fear from growing up with an alcoholic mother. Hating Mom. Loving Mom. Wanting her to love me enough to quit drinking. Staggering beneath the weight of guilt because she blamed me, my dad, anybody and everybody else for her crippling addiction.
She hid her secret well. I was required to help her hide it. When she was sober, she was fun, sweet, creative, charismatic, and kind. She was intelligent – a college professor. When she was drunk, she was abusive, obnoxious, volatile, and wild.
I was afraid of drunken Mom and didn’t trust sober Mom. Now I’m fifty-two and have moved beyond my traumatic childhood. Fifty-two was the age when Mom met Jesus. It transformed her life and eventually brought healing to our relationship.
I drag my thoughts to the present and notice Mom’s tears. “Mom, it’s okay.” I bend to kiss her forehead. She strokes my face and whispers, “I’m sorry. You’re a good daughter. I’m sorry for being a bad mother.”
Early stages of dementia have affected her memory. She apologizes frequently for things long forgiven. Before her health problems, Mom and I often spoke together at women’s groups. It wasn’t until Mom quit drinking that I learned she'd had a troubled childhood with an abusive father. We both were hurt and lonely little girls who grew into broken women.
I gaze into Mom’s blue eyes as she asks me, “How’s your daddy? Tell him to come visit me sometime.”
I brush wisps of hair from her face. Dad left when I was five. Mom spoke so hatefully about him that I was afraid to see him. I was in college before we connected again. Still, it took years to reconcile with the man who abandoned me to deal with my alcoholic mother on my own.
I still speak for women’s groups. Maybe I won’t always. At times it’s painful to relive my past. I miss Mom by my side. She talked on the addict or alcoholic’s devastation to oneself and others. I talked about what it’s like to live with an alcoholic. Both are broken and wounded.
It’s true that hurt people hurt people. It’s a vicious cycle that needs breaking. In Christ, Mom and I found the grace and mercy and healing we so desperately needed. It is this message we shared with others.
I push Mom’s wheelchair outside so we can sit in the garden. She pats my hand. “God is so good, isn’t He, Laura?”
I smile and nod, inhaling the fragrance of honeysuckle and roses. “Grace, Mom. We needed grace and God lavished us with more than enough.”
She taps a finger against her chin. “Is Adam coming to see me? I mean your dad. Does he know I forgave him? Do you think he forgave me?” Her chin trembles. “I wasn’t nice to him. Or you. But I am sorry. Very sorry. Tell him that, okay?”
Dad passed away three years ago. “Dad’s gone, Mom. He forgave you. We had some good times with him, though.”
Mom grabs my hand and starts singing a worship song. I join in, our voices pleasantly blending. A butterfly hovers in front of us, then rests for a moment on my wrist before flying away. We are like that butterfly – Mom and I. Beautiful and free by the grace of God.
I hate drugs and alcohol. I hate how it destroys. I hate the years it stole from Mom, Dad, and me. But I won’t allow it to take more from me by invading my thoughts. I choose to bask in God’s presence and let His mercy and grace color my life.
I must leave Mom and go home to my wonderful husband and daughters. As I take Mom inside, she kisses my hand and whispers, “We were once broken, but God restored us.”
Grace floods my soul.
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