Talking about my brothers and grief, life and death, made me think of another thing that has changed me.
I don't think you can really appreciate or understand your own parents until you become one. I still remember the first time I called my mom about something my first child did, something snotty. My mother laughed. And I couldn't blame her. My first child, Sunshine, had a mind of her own and strong will, just like her Mama. There wasn't much my mom could say except that parents wishes that their children be cursed with children like them does come true!
Parenting has helped me forgive my parents for their weaknesses and faults (they have faults?) and help me truly grasp how much they just might love me. I'm not sure if it's possible for my parents to love me as much as I love my kids, or even as much as I love them (my parents)! I can say that my real understanding of what they have done, choices they made, things they said, priorities they made has really hit me as my children reach each new phase of their lives.
It's kind of mind-blowing, actually.
I realize that not everyone is as lucky as I am to have both parents alive and still together. As a matter of fact I think that's unusual these days, which is also sad. I also think that many people still believe that their parents are unforgivable and maybe they are, I do believe there are some things a parent can do that cannot be forgiven but maybe understood better.
However, all that being said, there are some things that have helped me understand my parents, especially my mother, more from my own experiences as a mother.
Particularly that of parenting a special needs child.
Truly, having a child that demands so much of you physically, emotionally and spiritually is a challenge and one that you cannot comprehend. Even when you go through it you wonder how you are surviving! My mother had a special needs child, probably Autistic, but we never knew. My brother Bryan was never officially diagnosed with anything specific. His appearance was different than the rest of us and that could have been a genetic issue, much like my Crackle, that we never discovered. At the time of his death, (1992) DNA and genetic coding were not done in a general basis. I'm not even sure they thought to even look at that or see it as a possibility.
My own experience with Crackle has been quite the learning curve. Every day is a struggle and a challenge. While my parents did not have the behavior (violence & abuse) that I deal with on a daily basis, they did have the school struggles, including bullying and ostracism. Heartbreaking.
Also, they struggled, as I do, with worrying about my child's future. Am I doing enough? Is there more that can be done to help him help himself? Will therapy and medication alone give him a normal enough life? Will he ever be truly independent? These are things I worry about and I know my parents did as well.
I also worry that I don't love him enough.
I have grieved over the child and adult he will never be. That is its own kind of grief.
People with all "normal" kids have no idea how we feel. Just as I don't truly understand some of the trials they go through. We all have our own garbage.
I would never trade my Crackle or my brother Bryan for a different "normal" child. They brought and bring a unique and special challenge and love to my life.