In 2005, my Mom had our two childhood pets put down. They had lived with my sister and I just a few months before, and were perfectly healthy and happy, even managing to kill mice in our apartment and leave them as gifts in my bedroom doorway despite having no front claws (also my mother’s brilliant/cruel idea). Unfortunately, life took us both elsewhere and Mom offered to take them back for a while until we got ourselves sorted.
So then she calls a couple of months later to say that one developed Cancer and the other Pneumonia, simultaneously, and she had them both put down and cremated. A huge argument ensued…why hadn’t she called us BEFOREHAND, so we could come and say goodbye (we only lived a 45-minute train ride away)? I asked for the ashes. She told me that no, I couldn’t have the ashes. She and my Stepdad were going to bury them at their “summer home” (a trailer). I freaked out. They had never liked those cats, never treated them with any sort of dignity (much like their children), and most importantly, they were mine and my sister’s cats! Why couldn’t we have the ashes?!
Finally, she agreed to give me HALF the ashes…and if I hadn’t been out of my mind with Hulk-rage, I probably would have just told her to forget it, to keep the ashes altogether. Instead, I agreed to take half the ashes.
So eventually, they give me this weird little wooden box, stuffed loosely with ashes so that every time you so much as look at it, puffs of ashes go flying in all directions out the sides. It’s jammed full of ashes, and seems like too much ash to me, but what do I know? I kept the ashes, and carted them around with me to various apartments and cities over the years, leaving little puffs of ashes in my wake each time.
Fast forward to January 2015, and I have finally reached a point in my life where I’m standing up for myself with my family, calling my mother and stepdad out for years of abuse, and my father for his abandonment that helped ensure the abuse continued. I decide that I need to know the truth about the ashes, so I call Mom and ask.
She freaks out at me, telling me she doesn’t need or deserve this treatment. She says, “I believe those are the real ashes.” I tell her that she used the same phrase when I asked her as a kid if Santa was real, and even then I knew she was full of it.
When I mention the weird box that the ashes were delivered in, she says, “That was my jewelry box. You asked for that box.”
And I’m like, “First of all, I have never seen that box in my life. It was absolutely NOT your jewelry box. Second of all, even if it HAD been your jewelry box and I did ask you if I could have it, WHY ON EARTH would you fill it with ashes and not give it to me to use for, oh I don’t know…JEWELRY?!” I also point out that in 2009, I put down a cat who legitimately was terminally ill, and when we got the ashes back, they were in this TEENY TINY bag inside an urn, which demonstrated to me that there really were way more ashes in that box than there should have been.
She freaks out again, saying she doesn’t deserve to be treated this way, that to the best of her knowledge, those are the real ashes. She hangs up.
When she calls back like two minutes later, I am crying too hard to answer. I let it go to voicemail, and it was the best decision I could possibly have made.
The below voicemail is the very moment I decided that the “tragedy” of my childhood abuse was actually a comedy, and I had just been missing the joke the whole time, mistakenly thinking that I somehow deserved to be treated this way. After this voicemail, I was finally able to use laughter as a release, and walk away from my narcissistic Mom once and for all. I hope you enjoy.
Rob – Stepdad
Cindy – Their next-door neighbour at the time