Friday, January 27, 2012

B. Jerri Byrnes

My mother passed away on Monday, January 23rd. She was 65.

We always had a rocky, yet always loving relationship. There isn't a doubt in my mind that I am the man I am today because of the principles and convictions instilled in me by my mother and stepfather.

We disagreed vehemently on politics, but I never doubted her heart. She was a great mother, evidenced by her taking the blame for her children's bad decisions while praising us for independently making the right choices. She wasn't the best mother, but there is no such thing as "best mother," but she was the best I could have hoped for.

My father walked out on us when I was 7 weeks old. I can't imagine the fear she must have had as a newly single mother of 4, including a brand new baby. She told me that whenever she was feeling down, little Baby Ghost would smile at her, and give her strength to keep going. I just wish I could've smiled a little more on Sunday when I saw her. Hell, I just wish I saw her more.

She taught me the importance of independence, to never let a group of people decide what I think. Anytime I would go to a church, she would ask if I knew what they stood for, or more importantly, what they stood against. Anytime I expressed a political viewpoint, she would challenge it, and likewise, I would challenge her.

When my parents bought my first guitar for my 14th birthday, my mom was always pushing me to try harder. There was a brief time when I wanted to quit (at the beginning, when my fingers were bleeding), and she pushed me to keep going. When I got grounded from my Sega for not practicing enough, I knew she was serious.

My mother was far from a saint (she voted for Obama fer chrissake), but she was a saint to her kids. She worked for the underprivileged and forgotten, both as a child support agent and in the department of human services. I might not agree with the power of the government to do some of the things it does, the federal workers, like the troops, are mostly there because they want to help. My mother was an example of that. She complained both about the desperate people she helped being screwed over, and the people who could obviously do for themselves but were taking advantage of a weak system.

When it came to love, my mother's wisdom trumped everyone else's. "When someone tells you who they are, listen. Or she'll tell you again, and again, and again." When she tells you, "I'm a fuckin crazy person with no grip on reality!" listen. Or she'll tell you again. And every time I ignored my mother's advice, she was there to listen to me pour my heart out.

I miss her. I don't think that will ever change.

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