I learned a few moments ago that my birth mother will most likely be passing away on Monday. She has had a hard life and now will have a hard death.
At 15 she was molested by a family acquaintance, and upon becoming pregnant was sent away to a home for unwed mothers where she birthed her eldest son - and was coerced, as was common in that era, into immediately giving up that son for adoption.
She returned home to an abusive step-father and substantial chaos. She struggled to survive over the years, dating and marrying and having three other children that she would raise as a merry-go-round of mostly dysfunctional men passed through her life.
She lost one brother to alcoholism (he still lives, but is deeply troubled) and nearly a second. Another survived by distancing himself from the family.
I know less of her sister and step-sister.
She honestly cared for all of her children, but through nature or nurture - or some combination thereof - she ended up with two children lost to recreational chemistry, and a third living a difficult existence in many ways paralleling her own. She took pleasure in later years in re-establishing a relationship, however cautious and distance, with her eldest son that she lost to adoption.
In the last years of her life, she distanced herself from her stepfather and as a result was largely prevented from communicating with her mother. Allegations emerge that she was abused by those co-resident with her - her meager possessions looted and her health sabotaged.
I am that eldest son adopted out at birth, and I am saddened by her imminent passing and that we did not have a closer relationship. We reached out, cautiously, to each other - with rather more caution on my side than hers. I hesitated to engage more closely for many reasons - but mostly because I saw nothing I could do to improve the situation, and much about the situation that was immensely destructive.
I don't know what comes next. We'll see. I don't expect it to be easy.