Regrets of an Alcoholic Mother - Page 2

By Mary Meehan 01/06/13

When I was newly sober, an alcoholic mother confessed her failings to me. Now that I'm a mom, I see her last act as unspeakably courageous.

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He called me months later to say thank you and to tell me that he’d gotten the package. I didn’t recognize his name when he introduced himself. I had taken to calling her Annie rather than her real name when I told the story so it didn’t register who he was until he told me I’d talked to his mom just before she died. 

There was a long silence on my end as I searched for what to say. 

If I took the call now, I might be tempted to fill in the holes in her story. I might try to give him a chance to provide his side, to gain the same kind of relief I hoped his mother had found. 

Instead I said the only thing I could think of. “She was proud of you. She wanted you to know that she loved you.”

And we said goodbye. 

I don’t know if Annie or her son found peace. I can admit now that when I met her, I judged her harshly. I thought she had done way too little too late. I thought then that it was easy to make a grand gesture when she could do little else. Now that I'm a mother myself, I hope she knew that her imperfect mother’s love had meaning beyond the hurt it caused. 

The wounded tone of her son’s voice was a testament to the fact that, even if she’d fallen short, he’d loved her back. The years and my own failings have shown me how much courage it takes to face harms you can never undo. It is a brave act to try to give solace when you’ve caused the pain. And Annie, in her way, tried. With nearly her dying breath, she tried. 

Mary Meehan is a sober writer with nearly 30 years of journalism experience. She is a Feature Writer at the Lexington Herald-Leader, where she wrote an award-winning series about Drug Court in Kentucky. This is her first piece for The Fix.

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