Biographical Non-Fiction posted April 1, 2009 Chapters:  ...72 73 -74- 

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The last chapter

A chapter in the book A Leaf on the Wind

A Leaf on the Wind

by Sasha

Valerie was sexually abused as a child and grew into an adult with severe psychological damage. Her family lived in total denial exacerbating her alrady delecate psychy. When her relationship with her mother is resolved they move to Mexico.
Mom and I were thrilled to be back in Mazatlan. The medication was  working, and she had no more seizures. In fact, she continued to improve. She no longer needed a cane to get around. Her coloring was radiant and she appeared to be happier than she had ever been. She insisted we go out for lunch every day and several times a week we went to the Plaza Machado in the evening to eat dinner and listen to the music. 

One evening while sitting at our favorite table at the Machado, Mom told me that when she died she didn’t want me to send her body back to Seattle. 

I was mortified at the thought of talking about Mom’s death. 

“Mom, you’ve got to lighten up. You are getting way too serious.” 

She laughed, but made me promise. I agreed. 

Except for her eyesight, Mom was the epitome of health. Every morning she went for a walk, dragging me reluctantly behind her. At times, I found it difficult to keep up with her. We laughed and joked constantly. 

Occasionally, to Mom’s dismay I asked if she would reconsider calling Teresa but she continued to insist she did not want to speak to her. I continued hoping that the next time I asked she would say, 

“Yes.” However, she never did.

* * * 

Sitting in a small café across from the beach, Mom put her coffee cup down and a serious expression appeared on her face. She looked me in the eyes silently for a moment, then asked, “Valerie, do you think you will ever settle down and get married again?” 

Her question caught me completely off guard. Without hesitating, I said, “Absolutely not!” 

With a concerned look on her face she asked, “Aren’t you afraid of being alone after I am gone?” 

I shook my head, smiled, and said, “My goodness, you are in a dark mood this morning. What’s wrong?” 

Mom patted my hand and said, “I worry about what will happen to you after I am gone, that’s all.” 

I chuckled and said, “You, of all people, should know I am a survivor. You do not need to worry about me. I’ll be fine.” 

Not willing to drop the subject, Mom pressed harder. 

“Why don’t you think you will ever get married again?” 

"Good  heavens, Mom, I haven’t gone on an official date since 1989. Except when money exchanged hands, I haven’t been with a man for eighteen years. I am not interested in getting married. Besides, I think the possibility of finding a man willing to ignore my past is pretty much non-existent. I am happy living with you and when you are gone, I will always have our memories. Don’t worry about me. I will be fine.” 

Mom reached over and took my hand in hers. She smiled and said, 

“Sweetie, you have always been a leaf on the wind, haven’t you?” 

“What do you mean?” I asked, not sure what she was trying to say. 

“You’ve always lived your life floating aimlessly from one day to the next,” Mom said poetically. 

I smiled and said, “Yeah, I guess you are right.” 

* * * 

Mom woke me early to say she wanted to go for a swim. I got up, made us a cup of coffee and after insisting she at least eat a slice of toast, we headed for the beach. There wasn't a cloud in the sky and the sun glowed like a red orbe above.  I could tell it was going to be a very hot day. It was the end of May and the beginning of summer. Mom sat on the sand and laughed as the waves crashed over her. She loved going to the beach. Unlike Seattle where the water is always freezing, in Mazatlan the ocean is like bathwater all year round. 

After an hour of play, Mom and I went home, showered and got dressed. I was exhausted but Mom wanted to go out for lunch. We walked to the Pacifico Café in the Plaza Machado. Mom liked the Pacifico, the waiters knew her name and it made her feel special when they smiled and said, “Hola, Senora Murphy.” 

Mom ordered her favorite, Swiss enchiladas and a cold beer. We ate slowly and spent over an hour laughing and telling jokes. Suddenly, Mom turned toward me and said, “Who would have thought the biggest thorn in the garden would have turned out to be the prettiest rose?” 

That was the most beautiful thing she had ever said to me. Her words left me speechless. Only the tears in my eyes conveyed my true emotion over what she had said. 

She smiled and said, “Valerie, you DO know I love you don’t you?”
I felt a warm twinge in my chest and nodded. 

After lunch Mom told me she was tired and wanted to take a nap. We walked back to the house, arm in arm. When we got inside, it was very hot so I turned on all the fans. Mom sat down on the couch and as I turned to walk away, she reached up and grabbed my hand. She smiled and said again, “You DO know I love you, don’t you?” 

Still holding my hand, Mom died. 

I felt the warmth of her life slip from her hand into mine. I felt the warmth of a lifetime of love fill my entire body. I closed my eyes, and with tears streaming down my cheeks I said, “Yes, Mom I know you love me.” 

* * *

I placed Mom’s ashes on the table by the door. With tears streaming down my cheeks, I lit a candle and said softly, “Hi Mom. How are you doing today? I miss you very much, especially your beautiful smile, and the laughter. You were right, you know. I am a leaf on the wind. I always will be .”
I wiped the tears from my eyes. I opened the door and stepped out into the bright sunlight. I slowly walked up the street and as I turned the corner, I smiled remembering the hundreds of times Mom and I had walked this same route. A few minutes later, I was sitting on the beach waiting for the waves to splash over me. I glanced to my side and saw Mom sitting beside me laughing as the wave crashed down on us both. I reached over, took her hand, and smiling I said, "Mom, you DO know I love you, don't you?" 

Mom turned to look at me and with a smile on her face said, "Sweetie, of course I do." 



My mother died May 30, 2006.  The months following her death were difficult but the decision to stay in Mazatlan was easy. My mother loved Mazatlan and living here is a daily reminder of the joy we shared together. My mother was not perfect but who of us is? She faced her past mistakes and because she loved me, she spent every minute of every day we were together making sure I knew how much she cared. 

I waited two months before calling Sarah and Teresa. The conversation was short and neither asked how I was doing.  I sent Teresa the keys to Mom’s storage unit and told her she could have everything that belonged to Mom and to give whatever was mine to Sarah and Tina. In the end, they got what they wanted, but I got so much more. I have all the memories; they have only regrets. 

I have not spoken to Teresa, Denise, Mary, Tina, or Sarah since telling them of Mom’s passing. 

Will I ever speak to my sisters again? No. 

Am I still angry with them? No. 

Will Sarah and Tina ever understand why I was the way I was? I don’t know. 

Will Tina and Sarah ever forgive me? I don’t know. 

Will I ever see them again? I don’t know. 

I am currently studying painting at the Angela Peralta Cultural 
Center and School of Fine Art. Mom would have been pleased. I have earned a name for myself here in Mazatlan as a painter. The locals  call me "The American lady who isn't afraid of color." I am finally happy. What more could I possibly ask for?


Earned A Seal Of Quality

It has been nearly three years since my mother passed away on May 30, 2006. A day does not go by when I do not think about her. I have painted many pictures of her, most have been inspired by my book, including the one above which was painted from a photograph taken the day before she died. I live a solitary life, void of chaos and intrigue. Since my mother's death I have not had a seizure, hallucination, nightmare, a single thought of suicide, depression, or felt any anger. I can finally say, I am truly happy. When my mother died she had little money left. I live on my Social Security in the same house we shared when she was alive. I have made many new friends and when I am not painting, I spend my time walking, swiming and remembering my mother. I want to thank the many kind people I have met on Fan Story for their generous help, wonderful suggestions, and desperately needed assistance with my poor spelling and embarrassing lack of knowedge of American grammar. Without you I would never have come this far. I think of all of you as friends and hope that taking this journey with me has opened your eys to the horrors of abuse and the long term damage it can cause. When I say I love all of you, it comes from my heart. I am tury in your debt.
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