Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Ass Kicker (aka Mom)

Dear Mom,
Dad and I went to pick out your burial plot yesterday. We made sure to get you as close to your Grandma as possible. We also saved a seat for Dad next to you. Dad has never shown much emotion when it comes to hard times. It has always amazed me how he could be so happy go lucky in the WORST of times. Like the time Hurricane Charlie wiped your house right off the map. He was all excited that he had found all the Christmas lights hanging in the trees a block down the street. I for one hoped all that tacky Christmas shit was gone for good, no dice. Somehow he always manages to find the silver lining in the darkest of clouds. We were standing on top of your grave site and his voice trembled and his eyes watered as he said "oh no, stuck between two women for all of eternity". He still was able to crack the corniest of jokes even as he weeped for you.

We were standing there looking at great grandma's headstone and decided we were going to get you the same one. Her's said "loving mother" and the lady who was helping us asked what we wanted your's to say. Dad said "loving wife and mother". I said "I was thinking something more like ass kicker, that would be more appropriate." Dad agreed, and then we started telling this poor lady all sorts of stories about how you intimidated the hell out of people and you were only 5ft tall. I however was overruled and we went with the more PC one...whatever.

The day before we had been at the funeral home picking out a casket and what not. I want you to know that your comfort and where your physical body stayed was a real concern for us. Like when Dad said "Your mom hated to wear a bra, I don't think she should be buried in one." And I said "Ya, that would just be rude. I wouldn't want to spend eternity in one. So that issue was solved, and you're welcome!

I have been going out run/walking every day since I've been here. The jury has always been out for me when it comes to religion. I believe that there is something beyond this earth, I just don't know what to call it. I'm not sure who is right when it comes to all the many religions. I believe that whoever the higher power is has some common sense and can determine who is good and who is bad based on the life they lived, not where they spent their Sunday mornings. That being said, I put my headphones on and chose the Stevie Nicks Spotify radio station and started my run. And NO SHIT, the first song that came on was Rhiannon by Fleetwood Mac! It is always the song I remember you singing most as a kid as I sat between you and Tad in the bright orange Maverick. We called that car the "Great Pumpkin" and we disturbed all others in its path due to the fact it had no muffler. Come to think of it, that car matched your personality perfectly! You didn't have a muffler either, it was best for all to just get out of your way!

So there I was running down the street doing the ugly cry listening to every word of that song and in that moment I knew you were there with me. I hope you could see the love I have for you and the pain that will forever be in my heart now that you are gone.

I was SO mad at you for SO long and I regret that I couldn't get over it completely until the very end. You were not a perfect mom...far from it. I was not the perfect child. I really tried to be until the age of about 19. Up until that point, I had lived my entire life to make you and Dad proud. I always did everything you wanted me to do. Im sure you would have preferred that I didn't wear combat boots to my track meets and  wished I looked "normal" but you never said a word about my appearance...ever and I am so grateful for that.

What mattered to you was grades, sports and work ethic. Those were things I always could pull off because I had been raised on the motto of "You don't get something for nothing." Hard work was in our family's blood...well maybe not my brother Tad's, but that's another story.

When I told you I was gay, you said "you are no longer my daughter" and hung up on me. I have carried a grudge on my back for over 20 years because of that day. We had some hard years after. Eventually I saw a change in you, I knew that you genuinely didn't care who I loved. You welcomed all my girlfriends with open arms but I just couldn't get over the pain of that moment.

It was the moment I fell from grace. The day I went from being the daughter you were proud of to being the daughter you were ashamed of. I lost everything that day. My family was gone. I had nothing.

After years of reflection and thought, I know why you cut me off that day. It wasn't because you hated gay people. Never in my entire life had I heard you make one prejudice remark about anybody. And uncle Tommy who was gay had always been one of your favorite people. It was the death of the dream of the life you wanted me to have. You wanted me to marry and give you grandchildren and have a fairytale life. You wanted my life to be easier. What you didn't understand is that I did not "choose" to be gay. News flash...nobody does. I wasn't just trying to be "weird". Who would choose to make their life incredibly harder than it has to be? Relationships are hard enough without dealing with a bunch of people telling you you are wrong and terrible just for loving somebody. There is only one thing in this world that would make me stand up to you Mom and that is love.

I'm so sorry that I didn't forgive you sooner. I know how proud of me you were. I remember when you cut me off financially while I was in school because you "couldn't support my lifestyle". And you said I would never graduate and I said "watch me!" And when I walked across that stage a few years later, I remember you saying with a chuckle, a tear and a whole lot of pride. "I guess you proved me wrong". I can think of many times in my life when you admitted to being "wrong"... because you never were :) But thank you for giving me that moment!

You and Dad came to visit a few weeks back. You showed up on my very last day of a job I had left after almost 11 year of employment. It was a VERY hard day.

As Dad brought you through the door, you could barely walk and your pants were covered in urine from having a gran mal seizure on the way. The last thing you should have been doing was traveling to see me. I'm sure everybody was against it, but you didn't give a shit. You didn't need anybody's permission. As with your whole life, it was best that everybody just got out of your way, because nothing was going to stop you.

Can I just say "thank you!" Thank you for being your stubborn determined self. Thank you for spending 11 of your last days with me. Thank you for making Dad and I load up the wheelchair and oxygen tanks and going to the track at 4:45 am just so you could see me teaching a Bootcamp class. Thank you for coming to my bar league softball game and cheering the loudest the way you always have even though we got beat in an embarrassing way. You made sure you saw as much of my life as possible before you left.  Dad and I loaded you in the car half unconscious and wheeled you into Tilt Cycling just so you could see my business that I have put my heart and soul into. We made sure we took pictures and videos to prove you were there because we were fairly certain you wouldn't remember it. And Dad said "She will be so mad at me if she never got to see it so we better get proof."

I can whole heartedly say that any anger or bad feelings I every had were completely gone. All I wanted to do was be with you and help you and make you more comfortable. One night after you had been sleeping for about 2 days straight, dad was doing his best to wake you up so you could take the pills you needed. No matter how hard he tried, you couldn't stay awake long enough to swallow the pills. It was one of the hardest things I have ever witnessed. There were many times over the years that I genuinely thought might be the last time I saw you alive, but you always fought your way back. I knew in that moment that it was definitely the last time I would see you alive. And my heart cracked wide open.

Mom wherever you are, I know you are kicking ass and taking names. I hope they all know that it would be a whole lot easier to just get out of your way!

I love you forever.


  1. Thanks for sharing Nikki. I'll always remember your mom as a tough chic with a soft heart. I'm in tears over your sorrow and in total awe of your dad's enduring love. Just want to say, be open to the signs of your mother's presence, I am convinced that she is with you and will try to communicate in ways that only you would understand - i.e. Rhiannon.

    Having recently helped a friend who lost her sister, can I recommend a few books that we read and found comforting and thoughtful? Proof of Heaven by Eben Alexander & Life on the Other Side and Back by Sylvia Browne. In fact all of Sylvia Browne's books intrigue me and are very insightful to the spiritual realm.

    On happier note, I always click on your blog's the minute I see them on facebook. Your writing is brilliant, brave and vulnerable in so many wonderful ways. Your writing reminds me of Cheryl Strayed. If you haven't read her books - you must. Her latest "Dear Sugar" is exceptional and laugh out loud in a tragic way.

    Take care old friend. Keep writing, it's therapeutic.

  2. Thanks so much for taking time to write that Bev. It really means so much and provides much needed comfort in this moment. I will check out those books and that writer. Maybe I can download Sugar and listen to it on my 10 hour drive home on Saturday. Will be a drive with much reflection, would be great to have a distraction. Thank you❤️

  3. Oh Wow Nikki, I'm bawling. Beautiful. Heart break and love both to the nth degree.

  4. Thank you for sharing this! --Justin Black ;)

  5. Nikki, losing your mother is one of the hardest processes you will ever experience. Your words were so honest, funny, sad, wistful, frustrated... Let the healing begin.

    As a woman of faith I love that you talked about the power of forgiveness. Something that you and I haved discussed many times over the years as we struggled through our personal relationships.

    I love you and look forward to seeing you soon. May whatever higher power you believe in bless you and keep you as you and your Dad grieve together. Lucy

  6. Nikki,
    I just found out less than an hour ago about your mom. I tried calling your dad, but the # I have isn't working. The day your parents left the neighborhood, I cried. I wish that I would have done a better job at keeping in touch. One of the highlights of my former job, was getting to see your dad on Saturday mornings. He always promised to tell your mom I said "hi". I will miss her sass. She was an awesome person.


  7. I'm sorry you lost your mom. I can so relate to this post after losing my mom five years ago...

    how can you be in hell when you're in my heart.- Balian of Ibelin in The Kingdom of Heaven

  8. Nikki: This is beautifully written. Thank your sharing and I'm sorry for your loss. You're a great daughter. And you kick ass!