~Maid in Manhatten

She had a tough life while growing up. Her dad was an alcoholic and her step-mom was not only an enabler but cruel.

She was an only child and never had friends over to visit, she was too embarrassed and feared her friends would endure her father’s wrath too.

She endured emotional and physical abuse. She was dragged to bars at 3am with her step-mom to look for her dad. She was her step-mom’s Cinderella, cleaning, scrubbing and being sent to her room on a regular basis. She spent so much time in her room alone, it gave her time to fantasize about her future away from the monsters she was living with.

She met her knight in shining armor when she was 17 years old. He came from a very loving and traditional family who accepted her with open arms. They became engaged when she was 18 years old, her fiance was 26 years old. They married when she was 20 years old and had their first baby a year later.

Once the baby arrived her husband confronted her abusive father and told him if he acted out when he brought his wife and baby girl for a visit her father would never see his daughter again. Her dad was on his best behavior because he knew his daughter’s husband loved his daughter unconditionally and did not mince words.

She had 4 more children with her husband and her father continued to play the role of comedian and good guy when they would visit.

She loved her children unconditionally and doted on them. Her husband treated her like royalty and their children thrived because they knew they were loved. She was an excellent cook, had a childlike enthusiasm for life which her children found contagious.

Twelve years after she married the love of her life, her husband died from cancer. Her world would forever change but she was determined to keep her children’s lives stable, consistent and filled with love. She didn’t let them down, even when her abusive father began to emotionally abuse her again after her husband died she had the upper hand. She told her father if he could not quit drinking he was not welcome at her home or around her children.

Her dad chose the bottle over his only daughter. That was the only love he ever showed her because he at least respected her wishes and never bothered her or the children again.

She became a bus driver so she could be home after school and during the summers with her children. Her children always came first, even before her own needs. She worked hard but didn’t make a lot of money. Her children never felt deprived because love always trumps material things. Her family was the center of most of the choices she made in life.

She was my mom. My mom passed away surrounded by her children and our step father in January of 2016. Her legacy lives on through all of her children. We were all taught through her actions to forgive easy and to let go of grudges because life is short, my mom would say. She reminded us to never go to bed angry because tomorrow may not come.

Life experiences give us choices and my mom could have chose to be a bitter woman but she chose love. It’s much easier to love than to live a bitter life.

I feel so blessed that I had the time I did with my mom. She shaped my life in ways I didn’t realize. I can never thank my mom enough for all the blessings she bestowed upon us.

I always ended my conversations with her during the 3 years she had cancer with, “Love you to the moon and back,” I still do but now I send those thoughts out to the universe!

Originally published at medium.com