Writing has become a therapeutic tool for me. I have also learned that exposing my struggles releases me from the bondage of emotional baggage I’ve been carrying around unnecessarily. Writing sort of feels like a wonder drug, but the side effect of it is freedom from ill feelings and connecting with others who inspire to encourage.
In this piece, I wanted to introduce my mother as the person she intended to be, in the form of a letter to my baby sister. Unfortunately, mom lost her battle to addiction at age forty-nine. I felt it fitting to write about her because this past January 17th marked the day she passed twenty-nine years ago.
Here’s to you mom, some good stuff. If you only knew what you were missing.
Love always, your son, Johnny.
I had some thoughts about my writing the other day. I have shared many personal stories about our family struggles during our youth. I invited the world, through my writing, to view what happened behind closed doors with the hope of inspiring others to overcome their dilemmas. I shared vulnerable moments which surprisingly purged my mind and rid me of useless, toxic, energy. Writing became my preferred tool of choice to become healthier emotionally. It has been healing to my soul.
Without a doubt, we endured stressful and painful moments. Our mother was causing most of the heartaches. I’ve always indicated my intentions were never to promote mom as a villain; but, rather, to show people the dark side of alcoholism and drug addiction. If anyone is that parent, I urge them to please stop hurting your family and get help.
We suppressed many memories and hid them in the darkest part of our minds. Those thoughts saddened us. Therefore, we ignored them, but, in reality, they continued to taint and haunt our daily life. In turn, we had to take steps to correct our thinking. We rarely discussed them, but when we did, it helped put things in perspective to be able to move forward.
My intention with this letter is to give you a glimpse of what mom used to be like before all the madness started. A happier side. I had nine years with her before you came along, but as you know, early in my life, I began to detect signs of the problems that might occur.
So, I want to share with you some of the vague memories I have of her real character in case anything ever happens to me. You will have something to hold on to in your heart. Our tomorrows are never guaranteed. I don’t want my memories to end with me as they stopped with dad. We still have so many unanswered questions.
It’s hard to imagine one could remember what happened yesterday, let alone when they were a year-old. But specific memories come in the form of little, fragmented scenes in my minds-eye. I believe now, in my heart, God allowed it.
I remember an episode when I struggled to breathe; then, I was taken to the hospital. I had my first asthma attack. It happened to be my first birthday. The treatment back then was to place you in an oxygen tent. What happened next was nothing short of a miracle.
I vividly remember going into a panic inside the tent. Nobody checked on me for hours. It was noisy, and it became very cold inside. I felt alone and a sense of confusion. I shivered. I hoped somebody would get me. No one did. I kept drifting in and out of sleep. When I did rest, I heard someone singing. It was beautiful; I dare say angelic. In the process, I felt warmth all around me; a sense that everything will be alright. When I awoke, a young boy was outside my oxygen tent. He looked to be around ten-years-old. He started talking to me very loudly. He said, “My name is David, are you ok?” I just laid there unresponsive.
I can only assume David left my side to alert the nurses outside the hallway to check on me. For whatever reason, during routine checks, my bed was overlooked. As a result, my asthma turned into pneumonia from being left in the oxygen tent to long. My stay at the hospital extended to ten days.
When mom and dad arrived at the hospital, they were devastated. Neither one of them had a grasp of the English language. The lack of communication caused distress. They were unable to air their concerns because mom had only been in the US two years, and dad three. Mom swooped me up out of the hospital bed – eeping uncontrollably and screaming in Hungarian,” jaj icipici kisfiam (my teeny tiny son)!”
She held me so tight while she cried that her tears drenched my entire head. I felt her tears run down my cheeks and off the side of my face. Dad was right there holding the both of us weeping too. The whole time, I’m staring at David who is in his bed watching silently. We occupied a shared room together. David became my guardian angel at the hospital. He read books to me every day and made sure I was cared for while mom and dad weren’t present. I don’t have a clue as to what was wrong with David or why he was in the hospital. I can tell you our parents were grateful David was my roommate.
You wonder how in the world can anyone possibly remember details like that. Honestly, I don’t know. The only answer I have is that it was allowed by our creator. I only bring this to your attention to show you the tender side of mom. All three of us were a family. I don’t even think I could talk in sentences or walk yet, but I still remember that incident. I don’t know anything after that ordeal at all.
As time led on, I remember mom taking a blanket and a basket (walking somewhere) and pushing me in my stroller. She hummed the whole way. I’m not able to tell you what neighborhood or anything. I can only remember a warm, sunny, breezy day. We arrived at a big open space; I assumed it was a park because I remember the aroma of freshly cut grass.
She spread a large blanket on the ground, pulled me out from the stroller, and placed me on it. I can still remember the white cumulus clouds – a backdrop in the sky. Mom’s hair waved gracefully in the warm breeze. As I write this, I can smell the “Lilly of the Valley” perfume she loved to wear. She had such a beautiful smile while gazing upon me. I can member swiping my hand across my face from so many kisses she placed on my head.
Afterward, she reached into the basket to reveal some food, and we ate; then, she pulled out a book to begin reading Hungarian nursery rhymes. They must have amused her because she would laugh at them, and I would laugh at her. She would sing those nursery rhymes with such passion to me causing me just to stare and watch her every move. Her voice reminded me of the angelic voice in the hospital. Her tone was so soothing to listen to; her voice always calmed me. She truly had a beautiful voice.
Mom also loved creating art. One of her favorite things to do involved a pencil and tracing paper. She loved to trace pictures out of books and newspapers and do rub overs on dried leaves. Mom also loved embroidering colored flowers on white sheets and pillowcases I still have some of her tracing papers with her work on it.
Academically, she was intelligent. Any form of math that you can imagine came easily to her. Unfortunately, our grandparents pulled her out of college to flee their homeland. What took place in the refugee camp over a two-year period is still a big mystery. We can only speculate her past.
She loved people; she would do anything for anybody. Everyone loved her. I remember her random acts of kindness toward others. Always willing to share what she had with family, friends, or share a laugh over a good story.
One thing you need to understand, she loved you as much as she loved me. I’m aware of the unpleasant memories you carry in your heart. When you came along, it was the happiest day of my life – as it was mom and dad – by far. I know we had a lot of disappointments, and that I became your shield of protection during those ugly moments, but she still loved you and me. Unfortunately, mom had a hard time figuring out her problems.
You know as well as I do how important it is to grant forgiveness. Mom got trapped in a vicious cycle, and she could not find her way out. As we age, I think we have learned to forgive. Harboring ill feelings only hurt us. When we forgive we realize our emotional state becomes restored by granting grace and mercy towards her. However, it does sadden me at times knowing how much mom has missed by the choices she made.
In closing, we still have each other. I know we did not avoid all hardships. We took a few hits by people who discarded us like trash, but we survived, and because of it, we became stronger and more resilient in our lives. Our circumstance made us appreciate life all that much more.
As memories of mom continue to resurface, I will do my best to allow them to flow onto paper for the sake of filling in the voided parts of our heart. I honestly think we are better individuals for having these experiences and having an awareness of making the changes needed to lead better and more fulfilling lives. But most of all, we still desire to create a strong sense of family community as our legacy so that our children witness the example we so lovingly want to pass on to them.
As always, I got your back, little sister. I love you, Johnny
“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong”
John is currently an Electrical Skilled Tradesman at the University of Michigan. He has over 33 years experience in his field. He resides in Southern Michigan with his wife Maryann. He spent four years in the Marine Corp as a 7011 (Aircraft Launch & Recovery Tech). After his tour, he completed a four year Inside Wireman Electrical Apprenticeship with I.B.E.W. (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers).
At a very young age, John developed a love for reading and hoarding books and has continued to do so. It wasn’t uncommon to see him writing notes about something. John believes inspiration comes from an intentional reading of the Word and following the Lord. He feels it encourages better living and thinking.
When John is not working, writing and reading books of various genres, he is trying his best at being a husband, father, grandfather, brother, friend, and uncle. On occasion, you’ll see him making sausage and jerky or fermenting cabbage and pickles. He is always put in charge of making Hungarian Goulash over an open pit fire. No one else is allowed!
“My goal is to foster traditional family community and common sense thinking”.
“ I enjoy reading books about personal life experiences. When people are at their lowest, broken point and then making a victorious comeback.”
John C. Gyorki
John started writing January of 2016. He submitted his first publication May of 2016 right here at Two Drops of Ink.
He is developing his voice as a writer and continues to work on his website.
Published posts on Two Drops of Ink:
Two Drops of Ink: The Literary Home for Collaborative Writing
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