THE UNUSUAL WAY MY MOM MET HER HUSBANDS – BY ELLIN CURLEY

My mother had two husbands, both of whom she adored. She was also widowed twice – once at the age of 29 and once at the age of 64.

Both her husbands were doctors. Both her husbands were much older than she was; 15 years and 26 years her senior (my Dad). Both were named Abraham, although my Dad later referred to himself as Abram. Her father’s name was also Abraham. Have a Freudian field day with that one!

She also met both doctors in similar ways – by going to them for help dealing with a serious illness.

When Mom was in college at the University of Wisconsin in the 1930’s, she took a commonly used, over the counter drug to help her stay awake and cram for exams and papers. Years later the drug was banned because it was discovered that it killed off white blood cells, eventually, killing the drug user. So Mom started to get sick.

The school doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her. Finally someone called my grandmother and told her to come and get my Mom so she could die at home in New York City! So Grandma brought her home and started looking for a doctor who could save her. Enter a brilliant young doctor named Abraham O. Tumen. He became known as A.O. so that’s what I’ll call him.

Mom and A.O.

A.O. came up with a risky but creative treatment plan. Since Mom’s white blood cells were being destroyed, he reasoned that to save her, he had to get her white cells to start reproducing again. He thought he could do that by giving her an infection, like Typhoid Fever. Theoretically, that would stimulate her immune system to fight off the infection. It could kill her, but she was dying anyway. This might give her body a chance to fight back.

A.O. claimed that the minute he saw my beautiful mother sitting in bed, in long braids, he thought “I have to save this woman because I’m going to marry her!”

The family put it’s faith in A.O. and he gave Mom Typhoid Fever! Mom remembered being deathly sick with a very high fever. But she also remembered gradually getting stronger and recovering. It was almost a year before Mom could leave the house and start her life again.

During that year as an invalid, A.O. spent a lot of time with her. She just thought he was being a conscientious doctor. After all, she was only 19 and he was 34! Finally one day, A.O. told her he had two tickets to a concert and asked her if she wanted to go. She assumed he was offering the tickets to her. She didn’t realize that he was asking her out. So she happily took the tickets for herself and a male friend! The next time, A.O. made sure she understood that he was asking her to go out with HIM.

 They were married for nine years before A.O. died in her arms from a massive heart attack at the age of 43. It was Valentine’s day. Mom got his humorous Valentine’s Day card in the mail later that morning. She kept it the rest of her life and I still have it!

How Mom met my Dad is an even stranger story. While married to A.O., my mother suffered from blinding, debilitating migraine headaches. A.O. had heard about a new field called psychiatry that was making headway in treating migraines. So he contacted a prominent New York City practitioner named Abram Kardiner, my father. Mom started to see him as her therapist. He succeeded in curing her migraines and he eventually dismissed her as his patient.

A.O. with my Dad

Somehow, during the analysis, Dad had met A.O. and they had hit it off. So after Dad stopped being Mom’s therapist, he became Mom and A.O.’s single friend. They became so close that Dad invited Mom and A.O to spend weekends with him and his then girlfriend at his country home in Easton, CT. This means that Mom spent time with her first husband, in the house that would become her summer home with her second husband! Strange?

Dad was the first person Mom called when A.O. had his heart attack. Since Dad was a doctor, she called him even before she called her parents. He was with her when A.O. was declared dead.

Mom and Dad dated for three years before they married and had me. Dad was 58 when he married her (his first marriage) and 59 when I was born. Perhaps their shared love of A.O. contributed to making their marriage so special and so successful for the next 32 years. Dad’s relationship with Mom’s first husband didn’t seem unusual to me until I was a young adult. But then again, the unique way my Mom met her husbands didn’t seem unusual to me until then either.

I WAS BROUGHT UP ON A LIE – BY ELLIN CURLEY

My mother was very clear about the kind of person she wanted me to grow up to be. She wanted me to have all the ‘good’ qualities she felt she possessed. The list is long.

I was to be kind, caring, considerate and giving; compassionate, empathetic and loyal; a good listener and good friend; sensitive to the needs of others, ‘there’ for family and friends and generous with affection, praise and support of any kind. Also honest, trustworthy, down to earth and non-judgmental.

Quite a tall order. But my mother believed she had all those traits so why couldn’t I have them too? A noble goal in life. This is the description of a wonderful person, the person I have always tried to be.

My mother often told me that she would always love me, but she would only want me as a friend as well if I became “her kind of person”. That put fear in my very soul. I wanted nothing more than the love and approbation from and lifelong friendship with this amazing person.

It wasn’t until my late 40’s that I fully realized the sham I had grown up with. My mom was a narcissist, possibly with borderline personality issues. As with most narcissists, she got worse as she got older. She ended up being self-absorbed, controlling and selfish. Everything had to revolve around her but everyone had to think that she was the virtuous person I described above. Her primary goal in relationships, including with me, was self promotion.

Mom gave endless advice to friends (she was a psychologist) but never talked about her own problems because she didn’t want people to know she had any. She was judgmental about everyone and everything but herself. Her life had to be perfect. She had to be perfect. I had to be perfect since I was a reflection of her. (She used to say that I was a clone of her and I was thrilled!)

When it came down to it, she gave very little to anyone that wasn’t comfortable, convenient and self-serving. Here is a graphic example. When I was 40, I had a 5-year-old and a 10-year-old. I needed her help to leave an abusive, bi-polar husband, who was also abusive to the children. Mom had repeatedly encouraged me to leave and had said that she would do anything to help get me out of my destructive marriage. When the time came, she refused to help me. She said she couldn’t help financially because it would put a strain on her cash flow. Alternatively, she couldn’t let me and the kids live with her in her SUMMER HOUSE in CT. because it would inconvenience her cook (we would be using the kitchen) and cramp her social life (we would be using her guest rooms).

She expected me to accept these as totally valid reasons for her ‘inability’ to help me. I stayed with my ex for another eight years.

The literature on narcissism says that most children of narcissists either become narcissists or become subservient enablers to narcissists. I didn’t realize it but I was groomed to be the perfect narcissist’s side kick — in my mom’s shadow and at her service. I became a satellite. A small planet revolving around her sun. Unsurprisingly, my first husband, though bi-polar, was also a narcissist. For 25 years, my mother and husband fought with each other — constantly — over who would control me and get my ultimate loyalty and devotion. Each devoted themselves to trying to get me to push the other out of my life. I was a human wish bone.

The silver lining in all this is that I became the ‘good’ person I was brought up to believe my mother was. On the down side, I’ve had to learn to be less selfless and stand up for myself. I’ve had to develop self-esteem and self-confidence. I’m just learning how to be there for other people while staying true to myself as well.

I can be proud of who I turned out to be, so I guess that’s my happy ending. I just have to learn to forgive my Mother for not being the person she claimed to be and who I grew up admiring and emulating.

A MOTHER’S WALTZ: MUSIC & PICTURES IN COLLABORATION

Mother’s Day – Sunday, May 14, 2017


FROM swo8 (Leslie Martel): Today is Mother’s Day. To commemorate this day, we have created a photographic montage of families together. It includes eight generations of my family and three of Marilyn and Garry Armstrong’s families.

The song is bittersweet because to be a mother, is indeed bittersweet. Our children bring us our greatest joys and our greatest sorrows. The first couple in the video are my great-grandparents. My great-grandmother died in childbirth leaving 3 babies and a husband.

When my great-grandfather remarried the children were sent off to their aunt to be raised. The aunt is the lady sitting by the fire-place. The first photo of children is of my grandmother and her twin sisters. My grandmother being the oldest would have missed her mother the most. In spite of her early losses she became an extraordinary person and had a huge influence on me and my thinking.

To be a mother has got to be one of the most difficult endeavours to under take in one’s life. We are given this helpless creature for a short period of time to nourish, educate and inspire before they disappear into the ether of adulthood.

As a tribute to mother’s everywhere we dedicate this song, “Mother’s Waltz” by swo8 Blues Jazz and Marilyn Armstrong. 


FROM Serendipity (Marilyn & Garry Armstrong): It has arrived. The melody of A Mother’s Waltz echoes in my mind. I feel as if it is something I remember hearing my mother sing a long time ago … but of course, it is brand new from swo8 Blues Jazz

The pictures of my family include my mother, me, much younger and my son as a toddler. Pictures of Garry’s family include his mother and father’s wedding, Garry’s dad back from WWII with little Garry on his knee. Garry’s mom as a young woman.

The pictures are family heirlooms that evoke strong and sometimes conflicted feelings.

Music by swo8 … with pictures from Leslie Martel (swo8) and Marilyn Armstrong. Memories in music for mothers everywhere.

 

MOTHER’S WALTZ: A MUSICAL & VISUAL COLLABORATION

Mother’s Day – May 8, 2016


FROM swo8: Mother’s Day is May 10th and the great American author and photographer (blush), Marilyn Armstrong and I have worked on another collaboration. To commemorate this day, we have created a photographic montage of families together. It includes eight generations of my family and three of Marilyn and Garry Armstrong’s families.

The song is bittersweet because to be a mother, is indeed bittersweet. Our children bring us our greatest joys and our greatest sorrows. The first couple in the video are my great-grandparents. My great-grandmother died in childbirth leaving 3 babies and a husband.

When my great-grandfather remarried the children were sent off to their aunt to be raised. The aunt is the lady sitting by the fire-place. The first photo of children is of my grandmother and her twin sisters. My grandmother being the oldest would have missed her mother the most. In spite of her early losses she became an extraordinary person and had a huge influence on me and my thinking.

To be a mother has got to be one of the most difficult endeavours to under take in one’s life. We are given this helpless creature for a short period of time to nourish, educate and inspire before they disappear into the ether of adulthood.

As a tribute to mother’s everywhere we dedicate this song, “Mother’s Waltz” by swo8 Blues Jazz and Marilyn Armstrong. 


FROM Serendipity: It has arrived. The melody of A Mother’s Waltz echoes in my mind. I feel as if it is something I remember hearing my mother sing a long time ago … but of course, it is brand new from swo8 Blues Jazz

The pictures of my family include my mother, me, much younger and my son as a toddler. Pictures of Garry’s family include his mother and father’s wedding, Garry’s dad back from WWII with little Garry on his knee. Garry’s mom as a young woman.

The pictures are family heirlooms that evoke strong and sometimes conflicted feelings.

Music by swo8 … with pictures from Leslie Martel (swo8) and Marilyn Armstrong. Memories in music for mothers everywhere.


Other posts you might enjoy:

POSTING IN THE TROT BY SWO8 BLUES JAZZ

FOREVER WALKING BY SWO8 BLUES JAZZ

FOREVER WALKING BY SWO8 BLUES JAZZ

I’VE GOT THE WINTER BLUES – SWO8 BLUES JAZZ

FOR MY MOTHER, ON HER BIRTHDAY: A SONG – MOTHER’S WALTZ:

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM — ON YOUR 105th BIRTHDAY

It has come around again. My mother’s birthday. She would have been 105 today, which reminds me that she died so long ago … more than 30 years, now. This melody, A Mother’s Waltz, is dedicated to mothers and seems a fitting reminder of mine.

It echoes in my mind, as if I remember hearing my mother hum it a long time ago … but of course, it is new from swo8 Blues JazzBut it’s that kind of melody. It resonates.

The pictures of my family include my mother, me, much younger and my son as a toddler. Pictures of Garry’s family include his mother and father’s wedding, Garry’s dad back from WWII with little Garry on his knee. Garry’s mom as a young woman.

The pictures are family heirlooms that evoke strong and sometimes conflicted feelings.

Music by swo8 with pictures from Leslie Martel (swo8) and Marilyn Armstrong. Memories in music for all mothers everywhere.

FROM swo8 (Leslie Martel): This is Marilyn and my second collaboration. We’ve created a montage photographic memories — families together. It includes eight generations of my family and three of Marilyn and Garry Armstrong’s families.

The song is bittersweet because to be a mother, is indeed bittersweet. Our children bring us our greatest joys and our greatest sorrows. The first couple in the video are my great-grandparents. My great-grandmother died in childbirth leaving 3 babies and a husband.

When my great-grandfather remarried the children were sent off to their aunt to be raised. The aunt is the lady sitting by the fire-place. The first photo of children is of my grandmother and her twin sisters. My grandmother being the oldest would have missed her mother the most. In spite of her early losses she became an extraordinary person and had a huge influence on me and my thinking.

To be a mother has got to be one of the most difficult endeavours to under take in one’s life. We are given this helpless creature for a short period of time to nourish, educate and inspire before they disappear into the ether of adulthood.

“Mother’s Waltz,” music by swo8 Blues Jazz and photography by Marilyn Armstrong and Leslie Martel. 


For more about my mom:

FINALLY UNDERSTANDING MOM

I’M AN APPLE, MOM WAS A TREE

Prompts for the Promptless: Remembering Mom

A MOTHER’S WALTZ: A COLLABORATION OF SWO8 & SERENDIPITY

Mother’s Day is May 10th

 April 23, 2015 by swo8

FROM swo8: Mother’s Day is May 10th and the great American author and photographer (blush), Marilyn Armstrong and I have worked on another collaboration. To commemorate this day, we have created a photographic montage of families together. It includes eight generations of my family and three of Marilyn and Garry Armstrong’s families.

The song is bittersweet because to be a mother, is indeed bittersweet. Our children bring us our greatest joys and our greatest sorrows. The first couple in the video are my great-grandparents. My great-grandmother died in childbirth leaving 3 babies and a husband.

When my great-grandfather remarried the children were sent off to their aunt to be raised. The aunt is the lady sitting by the fire-place. The first photo of children is of my grandmother and her twin sisters. My grandmother being the oldest would have missed her mother the most. In spite of her early losses she became an extraordinary person and had a huge influence on me and my thinking.

To be a mother has got to be one of the most difficult endeavours to under take in one’s life. We are given this helpless creature for a short period of time to nourish, educate and inspire before they disappear into the ether of adulthood.

As a tribute to mother’s everywhere we dedicate this song, “Mother’s Waltz” by swo8 Blues Jazz and Marilyn Armstrong. 


FROM Serendipity: It has arrived. The melody of A Mother’s Waltz echoes in my mind. I feel as if it is something I remember hearing my mother sing a long time ago … but of course, it is brand new from swo8 Blues Jazz

The pictures of my family include my mother, me, much younger and my son as a toddler. Pictures of Garry’s family include his mother and father’s wedding, Garry’s dad back from WWII with little Garry on his knee. Garry’s mom as a young woman.

The pictures are family heirlooms that evoke strong and sometimes conflicted feelings.

Music by swo8 … with pictures from Leslie Martel (swo8) and Marilyn Armstrong. Memories in music for all mothers everywhere.


Other posts you might enjoy:

POSTING IN THE TROT BY SWO8 BLUES JAZZ

FOREVER WALKING BY SWO8 BLUES JAZZ

FOREVER WALKING BY SWO8 BLUES JAZZ

I’VE GOT THE WINTER BLUES – SWO8 BLUES JAZZ

M…O…T…H…E…R … SADNESS

Motherhood is forever. I laughed a lot when I read this, but it also resonates. I think it will feel very familiar to any mother who has raised kids.

Stuff my dog taught me

sad momRemember that Mormon ad from a million years ago… A little kid is happy because he got A’s on his report card and all his joy gets sucked away by the voice of a parent, getting mad at him for some minor thing he has done wrong. Sometimes (most of the time), I feel like that little boy.

Our house is a very busy place. Everyone is juggling some combination of work, school, and social commitments (except my youngest who is only 10 and Buster the Schnauzer who is… well… a schnauzer). Emotions run high. And here I stand, rooted like a bull’s eye in the center of the madness, throwing out statements that are bound to infuriate the masses. Wild, crazy things like:

  • “put on your mittens” (in my defense, it is -14 C)
  • “wrap the cheese before you put it back in the…

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