“For the grace of God go I,” is my mom’s favorite saying. It means “Don’t judge because at the roll of a dice it could be you.” My mother isn’t a particularly religious woman, I mean unless vodka is a religion, but this saying was said throughout my childhood like a prayer.
Some people may scold me for joking about an addiction in such a way, but one of my mother's other favorite saying is, “If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry.”
As a young child, whenever we would walk past a man on the street, homeless, drug addict, or just a bit lost to the world my mother would give them whatever change she had on her at the time, would look at them with genuine sympathy and say "You know one day that could be you. It could be ME," as she said, “For the grace of God go I.”
As I got older I never took much notice, I had other things going on… I had boys breaking my heart, I was living in the age of getting your belly button pierced but my belly button was weird. My best friend was bitching about me to the girl I hated. Mom kept acting weird, starting fights with me over nothing, drinking too much and none of the adults in my life seemed to want to know. You know, regular kid stuff.
But always in the back of my mind and out of her lips was, “For the grace of God go I.”
One Christmas sticks out, now I must warn you that I am the official Christmas queen, even as a child I LOVED Christmas more than was usual. It was my thing; the magic, the cozy atmosphere, the family feeling that came with it, the gifts. Well, to my horror, one Christmas my mother selfishly invited some random woman round with her two annoying snotty pale kids, I was FURIOUS. Ruining MY Christmas with these random people, how dare she. I acted annoyed with her all day, didn’t take much notice of those two little kids until I forgot about it and was distracted with all my stuff.
Years later, during one of mom’s lucid moments, where her life is calmer and less ravaged than it is now, I asked her what the deal was with those “weird people at Christmas that year.” And she told me that the woman was down on her luck and homeless with her two children.
They were staying in a local shelter, my mom had spoken to the woman around town and had invited her to dinner the day before Christmas Eve because the thought of a mother being somewhere so rotten with her children at Christmas was something she couldn't stand, and you know,
“For the grace of God go I.”
So this was her thing and she was sticking to it. I think we can put it on record that my mom has a beautiful soul, she’s kind, she’s giving, generous, and selfless to boot. She’s funny, intelligent, silly, and loves to read. I love her with all my heart, I love her as much as I can.
I’m a grown up now, I have my own children. The other day as I walked my children to school we watched as a derelict older lady ahead of us crossed the street, undoubtedly drunk, undoubtedly in a mess, my kids started laughing at her strange behaviour as kids do when they don’t understand something. I wanted to tell them, I wanted to explain addiction, how it takes beautiful people and turns them into shadows of themselves, how it steals the lightest souls and adds rocks to it, making it too heavy to move forward. I wanted to tell them how many people had tried to save her, she had a family somewhere dealing with a living ghost, haunting them daily… But I didn’t.
You seem I don’t want them to have to understand this stuff at all, not now, not ever. Instead, we soon got to school and we did our kisses and our hugs and that day they were a little stronger from my side, I waved them off as I thought about that woman.
One day I will tell them that was their grandma.