Friday, December 22, 2017


I’d said to my sister Kayla, “One of these times is going to be the last time.” What I didn’t realize when I said it was that it was going to be the last time.  I’d been through this before, more times that I could remember.  I’d gotten numb to the calls; I no longer panicked.  I’d distanced myself from it in order to protect my heart.  
Loving an addict is hard.  Watching someone powerless to the thing that is slowly killing them is excruciating.    It’s frustrating.  It’s maddening.  It’s devastating. 
My mom and I didn’t have the traditional mother-daughter relationship.  She was just a child of 14 years old when I was born and in many ways, she never grew up past that.  When I was a little girl, as with most children, my mom could do no wrong.  As I grew up, though, it was obvious that our roles were reversed.  I was the mother, she was my child.  There were times that she resented that role.  But despite that being the nature of our relationship, she always had a mother’s love for me.  I could do no wrong in her eyes either.  
There were a lot of things that happened to me as a child that I could have grown up using as a crutch to make excuses for myself.  My mother was young.  We moved.  A LOT.  There were many men in and out of her life.  Many were very abusive to her.  Some were to me as well.  At nine years old, I found myself being largely responsible for the care of my two year old sister.  Drinking and partying took precedence.  But, as I said before, my mother ALWAYS loved us.  She just didn’t have the skills to do the “mom thing.” I knew that.  I loved her just the same.  And growing up the way I did made me into the person that I am today – good things and bad. 
Mom let Kayla go to live with her grandmother when she was five.  She let me live with my Aunt Marilyn off and on for three years, and then move to Illinois to live with my dad when I was fifteen. To someone on the outside, it may appear that she just gave up.  But to me, especially now that I have my own children, I see that it was the most motherly thing she could have done.  I don’t know what her thought process was when she made these decisions, but I do know that Kayla and I were both well taken care of and cared for, likely in a way that she never would have been able to do.  I know it wasn’t easy on her. She often questioned letting Kayla go.  But ultimately, she did what was best for us.  That’s a mother’s love. 
I won’t sugar coat anything though.  Just because she’s gone now, doesn’t mean that the truth isn’t still the truth.  The last 20 years have been taxing.  I have made countless trips to both Indiana and Kentucky when she’s been sick, sometimes near death.  I’ve taken her to the ER.  I’ve sat with her in the ICU.  I’ve watched her go through detox.  I’ve sat and listened as she lied to doctors telling them, “I only drink a little.”  I’ve dumped bottles of vodka down her sink.  I’ve bought her groceries to encourage her to eat.  I’ve been supportive when she’d stop drinking and understanding when she started again.  I wasn’t fighting her battle, so it wasn’t my place to judge.  But it still made me angry.  Sometimes it made me cold.  Once, after she screamed at me in the Evansville hospital for “treating her like a child” I told her to walk back to Paducah and left her alone in her room for several hours. 
But it was always in the back of my mind, “One of these times is going to be the last time.” But, it doesn’t matter if you know it’scoming, you can never be prepared.  My mom was only 57.  You don’t expect to lose your parent so early when they are only 14 years older than you.  I will miss her terribly.  But I won’t miss the worry – is she eating, how much is she drinking, is someone hurting her? The last few times I’d gone to visit her, it was clear that things weren’t going well.  It was heartbreaking, but I’d gotten to the point that I’d stopped nagging her about it.  She was already trying to hide her drinking from me (at least the amount) and I didn’t want her to be ashamed of who she was.  She was an alcoholic.  But she was also my mother, my child, and my friend - and I hate that I can’t pick up the phone and call her anymore.  This time was the last time.

Kathleen “Katie” Vargocko Huffman
September 8, 1960-December 5, 2017

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