'I love you Mom.
You are the best.
I know I don't always say it, but I do appreciate everything you do for me.
When I was little and I was hurt, you were the one I went to.
And you were always there for me.
When I was sick, you were the one that stayed up with me.
And did not rest until I was better.
I was very young when you and Dad split up.
But I do remember vaguely that you sat us down to tell us that you were not happy.
I remember there had been a lot of fighting and tension.
Yes I was only seven, but I could sense when things weren't right.
We all agreed that it was for the best.
You made it clear we wouldn't leave unless we all agreed.
When we moved into our own house, you were much happier.
Although, being on your own meant you had to work harder to provide for us.
Even though it wasn't easy, you still read to us every night.
If my Brother and I were at Dad's, you would read to us over the phone.
I still remember how good you were with the voices of the characters.
There were nights that you did not make it home before we went to bed.
That made me sad.
I know that was hard on you.
I heard you crying in the next room when you thought we were all asleep.
You tried to teach us about responsibilities and helping out as part of the Family.
I'm sorry that I didn't do my own share.
I didn't want my life to change.
I didn't want a new house.
I wanted things back the way they were.
Dad made things look better on his side.
He bought me new games and took me to cool places.
He let me play video games as long as I liked.
And I had no chores.
He seemed different.
I wondered why we left in the first place.
Dad's new girlfriend cleaned my room and made my bed.
I made more messes.
I knew it was wrong, but I didn't care.
I was childish and selfish and I'm sorry.
When I came back home to your house, there were rules and bedtimes.
And siblings to get along with.
I didn't know how to deal with everything so I acted up.
I made everyone miserable.
My Brother and Sister did my share and didn't tell you.
They didn't want to upset you.
I knew they wouldn't risk it.
So I took advantage more.
When you found out what was happening, you tried to make it right.
You took me aside and let me know that there was a need for boundaries.
That I needed a schedule and limits.
You said it would be better for me in the long run.
But I did not listen.
Dad said bad things about you and I didn't want to believe them.
But he was my Dad.
Why would he lie?
I kept pushing and pushing when I was home with you.
I could tell you were at the end of your rope.
That day you told me you weren't leaving the room until I washed the dishes.
I was so mad at you.
I was ten years old.
When I walked away from you, you grabbed my shoulder to stop me.
I turned around quickly and swung out my arm.
I know it looked as if I was going to hit you, but I wasn't.
I'm sorry that I made you think I was going to hit you.
When you grabbed my arm and pushed me against the wall, I felt bad.
But I didn't show it.
I kept my smug smartass shield on.
I should have broken right there and told you how sorry I was.
But I didn't.
And I am so sorry.
When I called Dad and told him you had hit me, I knew it was wrong.
I could have taken it back.
I had plenty of chances to take it back.
When he called you and told you what I said, I saw the hurt in your eyes.
I may have even heard your heart break.
If only I had stopped long enough to listen.
But I didn't care.
I was young, stupid, self-centered.
I wanted everything my own way.
Things would be easier at Dad's.
Sure, he didn't hug me.
He didn't tuck me in at night.
He didn't say 'I love you' unless it was in response to my saying it.
But 'he' was left alone and miserable.
You were the reason we were not a family anymore.
My life was completely turned upside down.
Because of you.
At least, this is what Dad told me.
And I believed him.
According to him, you were off chasing a fairy tale.
Looking for the 'perfect man'.
And you didn't care about being a family anymore.
You were going on dates.
You didn't have time for me.
And when I vented to Dad about these things, he backed me up.
So they must have been true.
But when I looked you in the eye, with my smug smirk, and continued the lie that you hit me.
That was when the look in your eyes changed.
I had broken something.
Something I wasn't sure if I could ever fix.
You told me to pack my stuff.
I was moving to Dad's.
Finally, I was getting what I wanted!
But why didn't it feel better?
When I saw you, I knew you were hurting.
I tried to keep my cool facade, but inside I was aching.
I thought it would be easier for me to not have to see your eyes.
Not to feel you hug me and not want to let go.
Yes, it was easier to stay away.
And besides, Dad said I was doing the right thing.
After all, you did hit me.
The longer I went without talking to you, the harder it was for me to pick up the phone.
I was ashamed.
I was alone.
I only saw you at holidays, like Christmas and Easter.
I clung to you madly during those times.
The only thing I wanted to do was sit and cuddle on the couch with you.
I didn't even care what we watched.
As long as I could be close to you.
You had fought for me to come back home so many times.
But I rejected you every time.
I made up excuses like, 'you have no satellite, you don't have unlimited internet, too many rules...'
And then I would go home to my empty shell of a room piled high with dirty clothes and dishes.
Rotten food and garbage in the corner.
Dad downstairs on his computer, looking for yet another girlfriend.
But porn will do in the meantime.
I knew you had given up.
You didn't want to be hurt anymore.
And I felt you pulling away.
But I couldn't stop it.
I made bad choices, Mom.
I knew that house was not healthy for me.
I knew Dad was not healthy for me.
He smoked and smoked and coughed and hacked.
Every time I came to visit you, you would ask if I had a cold.
I would lie and say yes.
Because I wanted to avoid the ensuing conversation about the dangers of tobacco smoke and cancer.
I knew if it kept on, I would get sick.
I knew you could smell the smoke on me.
So much time had passed, I wasn't sure how to change anything.
How could I admit that I had wasted so many years?
That I could have taken away all your hurt by just telling the truth and coming home.
Four months ago, something happened that changed everything.
I had expected it for awhile.
I knew he was sick.
I'm not sure I knew how sick he was.
But something inside me told me to be ready.
You were with me when I found him.
I saw your heart break for the second time.
I was scared and had no idea what would happen next.
But I stayed strong for you and held you up.
Even though deep down, I wanted to crawl into your lap and have you tell me it was all going to be okay.
I told you I would go and stay at a friend's house for awhile, but you said no.
That I was coming home with you and there was no discussion.
And I was relieved.
You took me home that night and stayed up with me when I could not sleep.
You held me in your arms and I felt safe.
You truly have no idea how grateful I was.
I felt your fingers through my hair and remembered how good that felt when I was little and needed comfort.
The first few weeks were good, Mom.
I'm not sure what happened.
Maybe I got tired of everyone...and I mean everyone, asking if I was okay.
Maybe it was the breakup with my girlfriend.
Maybe it was the reality setting in of having to deal with siblings again.
In the same room.
Maybe it was my Step-Dad and his intolerance to my bullshit.
I realized that I was trapped in another reality.
I know you didn't give me limits right away.
You didn't want to put anything else on me on top of what I was already dealing with.
And I took advantage of that.
Started pushing my limits again.
I was rude.
I was blunt.
I was demanding and self-centered.
I made plans that took me an hour away with my friends and did not tell you.
And then you would have to come and get me after a long day.
And I did not care.
I did not say thank you.
I have tried drugs.
I am glad that I told you.
I'm thankful you were mad at me and told me how disappointed you were.
Because it made me realize I never wanted to do them again.
I don't want to disappoint you.
I told you, you were of no use to me with my homework because you weren't smart enough.
You left the room so I wouldn't see your pain.
And I did not care.
I stayed up as long as I wanted to on a school night.
And when you had to wake me up because I slept through my alarm, I snapped at you.
I dragged my feet and left no time for breakfast or lunch-making.
But you took cash out of your purse and gave it to me so I would have something to eat.
I did not get up early the next morning so I could show you how grateful I was.
I did not try to pay you back.
Even though I know you would not take it.
I know that you are happy now.
I know you have a new husband and he loves you dearly.
He treats you the way you deserve to be treated.
I don't think I've ever told you that.
I'm glad he found you.
He knows how lucky he is and he is protective of you.
He knows that you have been mistreated in the past.
I am ashamed to admit that I am one of those people that mistreated you.
Maybe it was because I saw the way Dad treated you.
But that is no excuse.
On three different occasions recently, I was disrespectful to you.
Your new husband called me on it.
A real man would have manned up, admitted he was wrong and apologized.
A real man would have changed his behaviour immediately to show that he truly was sorry.
But not me, I had to make it worse by acting tough to Step-Dad.
I tried to talk down to him.
That's the way Dad always did with other people.
Seemed to work for him.
This was the last straw.
Step-Dad lost his temper and punched the fridge.
He has never had to deal with arrogant teenagers on the homefront before we came along.
At least, not like this.
But I knew he couldn't hit me.
It was against the law.
Dad told me.
I also knew from school and other places that he didn't even have to hit me as long as the threat was there.
Nobody could touch me.
I knew you guys were only trying to help me.
I knew if you didn't care about me, you wouldn't try so hard.
I knew I was causing you stress.
And I did care.
But I wasn't sure how to stop it.
I wasn't sure how to change it.
I know in the past I have blamed a lot of my problems on the fact that my Mom and Dad split up.
I know I have been obnoxious and selfish.
I know I have been downright mean to my Brother and Sister.
And I know I should be grateful that my Family still loves me and gives me so many '2nd' chances.
Now that I have lost my Father, I should realize that there aren't an unlimited amount of second chances.
I should realize how precious life is and how delicate each and every loved one is.
Any moment one of them might be ripped from my life.
And I would never have that chance to make things right.
To say I am sorry.
To say, 'Thank you for giving me life'...'thank you for taking me in when no one else would.'
Thank you for always being there for me.
I am away from you right now Mom.
I know you miss me.
And I miss you too.
You have no idea how much I miss you.
I might have a few moments at work where I get to daydream and I wonder where you are and what you're doing.
Are you cooking something in the kitchen? Are you weeding in the garden?
Are you watching one of your favorite shows?
Are you thinking about me?
Are you smiling at this moment?
I really hope you are.
Today is my Birthday.
I am now 18 years old.
I want to be the type of man that makes you proud.
I hope that this time away working molds me into a strong, happy, honest hard-working man.
I want to surprise you with flowers someday and see your face light up.
I want to take you by the hand and go for a walk, telling you how proud I am of you, my Mother.
I want to show you that you did the best you could when I was with you and that I am grateful.
And that you shouldn't feel guilty for all our time apart.
It wasn't you.
It was me.
And my stubborn Scottish pride.
I want to show you that all the tears and heartache, headaches and gray hairs were worth it.
I will still come to you when I need a hug, or someone to talk to.
Some Motherly....or Fatherly advice.
When I am away at school I want to come home for Holidays.
And I want it to be 'home'.
Because home is wherever there are people that love you.
I want to show you that I can be humble also....and that you truly do have many things you can teach me.
I am attaching the picture you took of me for Graduation.
I'm sorry I gave you such a hard time about getting it.
You are very smart.
You are so pretty.
You are amazing.
And I love to hear the sound of your laugh.
I miss your jokes and your silliness.
I miss your goodnight hugs.
I love you, Mom.
You are the best.
I promise to call you as much as I can.
And I can't wait to see you and give you a huge hug!'
....Things I wish my Son would say.