previous verse: http://culturevi.wordpress.com/2011/03/04/perspective-the-meaning-behind-my-most-personal-record/
I just found out my mother got cancer
I have no idea how I’m gonna get through this. Writing this all out, reliving these emotions, it’s going to be incredibly hard. I wrote this verse minutes after getting off the phone with my mom. The second verse of the song was pretty much bashing her and our relationship. What I had written for the 3rd was more of the same. After getting off the phone with her, I scratched what I had written for the verse and wrote this. This verse was literally written exactly after I got off the phone with her.
So – this was the single, most life-changing moment I’ve ever experienced. I remember the phone call like it was yesterday. My mom and I hadn’t been speaking much, mostly because of the reasons I wrote in the previous verse. She called me and told me that she went to the doctor and found out she had cancer in her spine, skull and some other places. She had found out a day earlier and didn’t even call me right away. She said she didn’t think I’d care. That’s how bad our relationship had gotten. I didn’t realize the immense value of having a parent. I thought I had it all figured out. I thought she was a flawed person and a bad influence on me. I completely took her for granted. And for the rest of my time on earth, I’ll know that I wasn’t even her first call when she found out that she might die. I wasn’t even a call she made on the first day. But picking up that phone altered the course of my life forever.
I know I’m using some of the same words over and over instead of searching for adjectives, but I don’t give a fuck. I’m literally just typing whatever comes into my mind when I see these lyrics. This is the most authentic glimpse into me as a person, into my soul, that you’ll ever get.
I heard that it’s in her spine
Thought it was all in her mind
My mom had always complained of headaches and backaches – as long as I can remember. I mean, since I was a teenager, she’s complained of these things. Now we find out she has cancer in her skull and spine, and that it’s stage IV. For those who don’t know, stage IV is the most advanced cancer, cancer that has spread the most. There is no stage V. Statistically, people rarely recover from stage IV.
She was always paranoid that something was wrong with her. Losing her hair. The headaches. Everything. And we (at least me, but I think others in my family as well) all kind of thought she was just being dramatic. Building things up in her head. Well, it turns out that it was extremely real. My 49 year old mom had the most aggressive stage of cancer imaginable. She wouldn’t make it to 50.
Now I’m feeling guilty, reminisce back to dinner time
Sitting by the TV
Every night, she feeds me
Wasn’t really perfect, but fuck it, it didn’t need be
After hearing the news, I immediately stopped thinking on all the negatives and focusing on the positives. I remembered the nights growing up, watching Different Strokes and Who’s the Boss together. I remember her cooking meals for me every day. The simple things that I felt entitled to. Suddenly, they felt so far away. So long ago. It was almost instant clarity. Instead of realizing all the things that we didn’t have and didn’t do, I started realizing just how important what we did do was. She was a great mom, and this was unfortunately the first time I had ever realized that.
Now I’m feeling queasy, thinking about life without her
In the past, I probably wouldn’t think twice about her
It was a very emotional time for me. There was one time where I was driving to her house and Alicia Keys “Wild Horses” came on and I literally had to pull over on the side of the Grand Central Parkway and just cry. As she got deeper into the sickness, I started accepting the fact that my mom was going to die. It was Mother’s Day when I pulled over to cry. I was bringing her flowers, driving with Jenny, when it hit me. This was probably going to be the last Mother’s Day I was ever going to celebrate with my mom. The reality hit me that she was probably not going to be alive at this time next year. Everything that we celebrated would now most likely be for the last time. The last Valentine’s Day, the last Mother’s Day, my last birthday, her last birthday. Little did I know at the time, she wouldn’t even make it to her next birthday.
All those years I took for granted. All those times that I avoided going to visit her. She was so proud of my life. Proud of my house and wife. Yet, I couldn’t find any time to bring her out to enjoy the house. To just enjoy spending time. I always treated it like a chore.
How ironic is that? All those years I avoided spending time with my mom. I’d now give up everything I have in my entire life, with the exception of my son, in exchange for a single conversation with her.
I’ll always wonder why God didn’t bless me with this wisdom earlier, when I could’ve actually taken advantage of it.
But now, you see, it’s all in perspective
I’m more introspective
Since I learned that being imperfect is
Really not a negative trait
And that fate is less about luck
And it’s more of a mind state
And that our flaws make us one of a kind
Hate that we always bite whenever one of us finds bait
This is deep right here. I could probably write a book on this. My perspective on life completely changed. I really did realize that HOW you look at things matters more than what you’re actually looking at. I looked at my mom and saw a completely different woman than I had seen for the past 15 years or so.
I didn’t like the person she was. I didn’t like that she never had a real job. I didn’t like how she held grudges forEVER. I got in a fight with this kid in my 6th grade class Donald Marquez over a girl. You know how things go – we were friends again the next day. Well, I ran into him after high school – like 7 years after the fight. I told my mom and she said “I don’t like you talking to him. He’s trouble”. All over one fight. That’s how my mom was. I thought that was a major flaw in her character. She didn’t like to go out and spend time with friends. She was selfish. I used to hold all this against her.
It wasn’t until after she got sick that I realized our flaws are what make us unique. This isn’t what weakens us as humans, it’s what defines us. We all have our own unique set of shortcomings. It’s a very different way of looking at things, but I feel it’s much healthier.
I have a lot of flaws. They don’t make me a bad person. They make me Wil. And her shortcomings made her Diane. Her job as a mother was to raise me to be better than her. Raise me to be my own man and to learn from my mistakes and shortcomings. And that’ll be my job to Sean Jordan. To make him a better man than me. To have him learn from my flaws. Those flaws don’t make me a bad person, or weak. They just make me me. It took me too many years to realize this. We’re all victims of the same thing. There isn’t a single perfect person on this planet. Yet we continue to judge each other. This was a major life lesson.
We aren’t lucky or unlucky. It’s all in the way that we view our life. Do we choose to accentuate the positives or dwell on the negatives? Do we continue to try and move forward or do we look for reasons to blame for our past?
My mom lived for nearly 9 months with cancer. My aunt – her sister – had a cancer that was much less severe, yet she passed away much earlier, on May 9th. I watched my mom wither away to almost nothing. We had a couple of amazing conversations before she lost her senses. One, in particular, was before a trip I was taking to the west coast. I wasn’t going to take the trip, but she told me if I didn’t go, it was because I thought she was gonna die in those next couple of days. So, before I left, I had the best conversation I’ve ever had with her in my life. I confessed things to her. I told her how much I appreciated her. I told her how I felt. It was amazing.
When I got back a few days later, she was still alive. I told her about my trip and about the promotion I was getting because of it. She was thrilled for me. Then she said she needed to get some sleep. When she woke up, she asked me how my trip went.
That was officially when my mom took her turn for the worst.
She no longer could remember things. She couldn’t stay awake long. It was all downhill from that point. But I did get to have that amazing conversation with her, which I’m grateful to God for.
I have a lot more to say on this subject, but I’ll save it for my twice-a-week, $275 a piece therapy sessions.
My father’s new wife died
So now it’s like the right side of his body remains
The rest is all pain
I miss the man who’d take me to fish and to ballgames
I wish the situation was different, it all changed
I know it hurts him that I don’t visit him more
Does it really leave a deep incision or is it a small stain?
I’m going to have to write another verse, this time about my dad. He passed away recently, on November 2nd, 2010, at the age of 56. Unlike my mom, his death was sudden. I landed in San Francisco, where I was go to wine tasting in Napa Valley and then to the Taxi Road Rally in Los Angeles, when I got a call from my aunt saying he had just died. It’s another moment that I’ll never, ever be able to let go of. It needs it’s own verse or own song.
For the purposes of explaining what I meant in THIS song, however – my dad and mom got divorced when I was a young teen. Actually, my dad isn’t even my actual father. My mom had me out of wedlock with some guy she dated in California. She started dating my dad when I was very young. They got married when I was 2 and then he legally adopted me when I was about 5. I didn’t even know he wasn’t my natural dad until after they had gotten separated. I never had any desire to meet my natural dad. My dad IS my dad, and I never thought of him as anything less – blood or no blood.
He remarried, as did my mom. His wife passed away at a very young age, I believe 50. Same as him, she died suddenly. I wasn’t there for him during this period. I was young and didn’t realize the ramifications. It’s something I regretted as I got older. I wasn’t even at her funeral. It really messed him up, as you would imagine, and his son wasn’t there with him. I carried that on my shoulders for a long time and never had the opportunity to speak with him about it and apologize. I can only pray that he knows how I feel now.
He always seemed different after that. Life was much simpler when I was younger. He’d take me to Yankee games all the time. We’d go fishing or to the park literally EVERY day when he’d get home from work. He was the ultimate father. But I wasn’t being the ultimate son. I wasn’t visiting him nearly enough. I wasn’t spending enough time with him. Especially with my mom being sick, I should’ve made more of an effort.
He died before I ever got to talk to him about these things. I’ll go to my grave never knowing how he really felt about that. How much it actually hurt him. He was good at hiding his emotions. I’m not, as you can see. I wear my heart on my sleeve. And these last couple of dozen paragraphs, this last verse – this is my life. This is my soul. These are the guilts that I walk around with every day. And here I am – sharing them with you.