My Mother Rebecca

14 August 2005

11:56 P.M.

I met her on a cold, rainy night in the middle of November about fifteen years ago. There I was, barely fifteen years old, hiding behind an alley trash can in a dodgy part of town. And she, decked to the nines in her red evening gown and high heels, her hair just done and her lips and fingers painted, sat herself right down next to me, no regard at all for her expensive clothes or anything else. She turned and caught my eye and without saying a word, she got me to tell my entire pitiful story. Thrown out of the house by parents who called me a whore because I got myself knocked up by a guy six years older than me, never mind the fact that I was taken against my will, seven months pregnant with no place to stay and not a penny to my name, praying for death to come because anything had to be better than what I was going through at the time. And damned if that woman didn't start in scolding me for thinking so little of myself! Well, I got right angry at that point, screaming and hollering about how no stranger had the right to tell me shit, by God, I wasn't going to sit there and listen to Ms. High And Mighty tell me nothing could be as bad as to wish my life away. But you know, she never yelled back at me. She calmly got to her feet and looked me dead in the eye again. I'll never forget the words she said to me. "Look, kid, I know it seems like you've got shit right now. The whole world's turned against you, you feel like, and there's not a reason in the world that you should bother putting up with it. But, honey, you're soon to have a baby and you can't just throw that child's life away, too. Now, I'm offering you shelter here. You don't have to give me anything, just come home with me and I'll get you a decent meal and some clean clothes. You have an obligation to that baby, child; you can't just give up."

For some reason, those were just the words I needed to hear. Part of me wanted to just up and run off on her, but I realized she was right. I may not have wanted this pregnancy and I may have only been fifteen years old, but I knew I already loved my little boy or girl, whichever it was. So, I did the only thing that I knew I could do: I went home with her. On the way to her place, she told me that her named was Rebecca Montgomery and I about had a heart attack. That was one very familiar name. Rebecca was the daughter of a highly influential attorney and it was no secret that the Montgomery family was loaded. Rebecca warned me right off, as soon as we walked into her luxurious apartment, that if she noticed anything missing, she wouldn't hesitate to send me off to the cops. Since I was still in awe over the fact that Rebecca Montgomery had offered me room and board for… well, I wasn't exactly sure how long, but anyway on with it… I smartly agreed to her conditions and promised I wouldn't take anything from her without her first telling me it was all right.

Over dinner, the first real meal that I had had in what seemed like forever, Rebecca told me that she really hadn't known what prompted her to visit the place she found me, but she somehow knew she needed to be there. Rebecca revealed that in her late teens, she had had a brief falling out with her parents and landed herself in sort of my same situation, minus the added addition of the pregnancy, and had spent many a night in that same alley. When she found me, she felt like she should return to it for some reason. She admitted she was glad she did. I didn't quite know what to feel and I stuttered out a thank you and that I didn't want to burden her and a whole bunch of other stuff I can't really remember. Rebecca waved my words off and pushed a few more rolls my way. After dinner, she threw me some pajamas and showed me to her guest room, insisting that the next day we were going to be visiting the doctor for a check of mine and the baby's heath and after that to the stores to get my some decent clothes. She had thrown the ones I had been wearing into the bin, threatening to burn them. Truthfully, I didn't blame her; my parents hadn't even let me get any stuff to take with me before they kicked me to the curb.

Rebecca was true to her word. Over the next couple of months, she kept me at her apartment, introduced me to her parents, made me go to the doctor regularly, forced vitamins at me, never let me miss a meal, and basically took care of me like no one else ever had. When I went into labor, it wasn't twenty minutes until Rebecca had me at the hospital and in a room. She stayed by my side the entire time, guiding me through it and reassuring me that everything would be all right. When my daughter, Ella Rebecca Clarke, was born, she wasn't breathing and I was terrified. Rebecca spent all day and all night with me at the hospital, making sure that I was okay and that the doctors did everything they could. Two weeks later, my Ellie came home with us. I partly expected Rebecca to tell me that enough was enough, she had given me everything I needed, but now it was time for me to make my own life, but she surprised me again. She bought all the necessary supplies to care for a newborn and helped me learn how to take care of my precious daughter.

Rebecca was an angel. She never once complained about having to take care of me, or Ella, and she was always there if either one of us needed her. Rebecca became a sort of mother to me. She even declared guardianship of me after my parents officially disowned me. My daughter started calling her 'Gamma Becca'; the first time Ellie said that, Rebecca beamed my two and a half year old and said 'That's right, Ellie, Gamma Becca's here.' Rebecca's parents were also wonderful to us. I had expected them to scorn Ellie and me because their daughter wasted so much time on a stray she'd picked up in an alley, but they welcomed me just as much as she had. When Rebecca wasn't available for us, Charles and Lynn were. Charles gave me a job as a secretary at his firm so that I could earn my own money and Lynn taught me all about 'being a woman', from sewing to cooking to housekeeping to child rearing.

Last year, for Rebecca's forty-sixth birthday, Charles, Lynn, Ellie, and I threw her a huge bash with all of her friends. Nearly everyone she knew was there and the party was the main topic of conversation for weeks afterward. I had announced to Becca that my boyfriend Allan and I were engaged to be married the next summer and she was ecstatic, immediately giving us her blessing. It seemed like the euphoria of the party would never fade. But, then all of a sudden, it did. Becca suddenly had a seizure one night and was rushed into the hospital. The doctors did every test imaginable, and their diagnosis wasn't good. We learned that Rebecca had a brain tumor, an inoperable brain tumor. All of us were in shock; Rebecca was never sick. Sure, she'd complained of a couple of headaches at times, but she was always just fine with a couple of aspirin. The doctors said she wouldn't have much long, but that it was hard to say truthfully. All we really could do was pray. We did get to bring her home and all of her family and friends made the rest of her life as happy as could be for her. We tried to ignore the problem but at the same time acknowledge it was there. In doing so, we were able to ensure that Rebecca was as comfortable as she could be as she came to grips with the fact that she would die soon. Over the next few months, Rebecca helped me plan my wedding. Allan and I had decided to move it up a little bit because we both wanted Rebecca there at my side. Two weeks before the wedding, she had another seizure and was admitted to the hospital again. Her health was deteriorating. Rather than the large outside wedding we had planned, after getting approval from the doctors, Allan and I were married right there in Rebecca's hospital room. She was able to be at my side when I said my vows. Two weeks after my wedding, on April 18, 2005, Rebecca passed away.

Today would have been her forty-seventh birthday. It's only been three months since she died. She lived eight months after we learned of her tumor. Before her funeral, Charles and Lynn approached me and asked if I would give the eulogy. I was honored that they would ask me and I accepted. At the service, I told the story of a woman who was caring, brave, honesty, and selfless. I told them of the woman who gave up her needs for a child she hardly knew when that child was in trouble and needed help. As I outlined her successes in life and the happy memories we would share, it almost became too much for me. I ended with a prayer for the woman who had been so much more than a friend to me. I prayed that my mother would rest in peace in God's loving arms.