Dear Gina and Jay, a message from “heaven,” from your former mother, Kathleen Dehmlow

Alright kids, you had your fun, and I saw what you did, all over the papers:

An 80-year-old Minnesota woman “will not be missed” by her children, according to a spiteful obituary published Monday. Kathleen Dehmlow, born on March 19, 1938, was remembered for abandoning her children after having an affair with their uncle in a scathing remembrance published Monday.

I hope you got that out of your system, kids, that’s alright now, I understand your feelings, I got your message, and I just wanted to say that I forgive you anyways–a mother’s love is exactly that. And truth being what it is, I did give you the best four, and five years that I could under the circumstances as they were.

And I don’t expect that you can put aside the 60 years or so that you have held on to bad feelings about me, and why you never understood why I up and left. That’s ok too.

But I want to leave you with one idea that helped me make the decision I did all those years ago.

There is this story of the crabs in a bucket–have you heard it? It goes like this:

A fisherman netted a bunch of crabs, and picked them out of the net, and put them into a bucket. Those crabs sat in the bucket, and the sun got hotter and hotter.

As things heated up, the warm sea water combined with crab juice began to stink–like foul smelling cleaning ammonia (do folks still use that to clean stuff at your house? I sure did my share of scrubbing for you kids when you were young) they were becoming more frantic–and had no solution to their problem–they sensed imminent doom*, and maybe even death.

And they began to squirm, and climb one on top of the other, while smashing others down to the bottom–the weaker crabs finding the lowest depths. And the stronger crabs pushing to the top.

Well, as it is, crabs in such a situation begin to pinch and claw at each other and so on.

One crab, finally rising to the top, managed to get one claw out of the bucket–just enough leverage to pull itself nearly over the bucket lip!

And guess what? All the crabs below it pinched and pulled at its legs, dragging it back into the bucket.

Well, as stories go, this one was not ambiguous (oh my, I haven’t used that word for such a long time, not sure I even spelled it right!)

That crab with its hand on the bucket’s edge was not giving up! As those crabs below it pulled harder on its legs, she pulled harder on the buckets lip! Suddenly, she was balancing on the edge of that bucket, and two crabs were dangling on her legs–she did everything she could in her crabby power to get you over the edge of that bucket!

But a sudden snap! and then another–and she was popped right over the edge by the force of that separation!, And two crabs sank back into the muck of that bucket, with her own legs in their hands! Oh, that’s such a terrible feeling!

As you can see, not all stories have happy endings for some. And as you can imagine, losing two legs is very, very, painful.

But that’s the way life is sometimes. Some crabs fall off and get stewed in the bucket, and other crabs limp our way back to the sea. It’s never a good thing to lose two legs, and I am sure its much worse to hold on to legs that don’t work anymore–to hug them, and hold them, crying at night that the mother crab would come back!….clinging to legs that will never grow back into a mother, or be useful again–to hold on to torn fragments of memories of nearly getting out of that bucket yourself.

The truth is, most little crabs–and even those big ones– cannot conceive of things that way, it’s just a story. But I forgive you anyways, as much as I had to forgive myself all those years. I hope that you can learn to forgive yourselves too.

As for judgement–yes, I had to judge myself, and my choices every day since that time, and guess what? I had hoped that the people who raised you after I left might have given you better judgement–but I see that didn’t happen, and that’s ok too; and it’s part of why I left in the first place!

Imagine of I had stayed on and become an old bitter pill like you? Nope–I wouldn’t have that then, and I wont have that now. Its a choice you are making, and believe it or not? I made a different choice!

The good news is that there is no Saint Peter, no pearly gates, none of that poppycock about saints on clouds out here in the wide reaches of space!

But I did live quite happily in Northern California for all those years after I left that dull sword of your father’s tongue behind. My life now is the trickle and bubble of cool stream beds–the whispering winds of the northern pines–the occasional crying rain–mingled with cosmic dust, and the billions and billions of butterfly wing messages floating on, and under, and through them.

In my last moment, I breathed, my entire body filled up with a breeze, and I floated, expanded, and my entire being became a giant smile–an everlasting mingling with the forces of NATURE! My nostrils filled with the scent of moist and fertile black earth, and summer breezes!

And I am happy, floating here as I do in the ether.

I mean, I am actually still here, everywhere around you now, and always will be, wishing the best for you– floating around in the ether. The archaic, alchemic and poetic sense of the word is what I’m evoking here–but I am sure that’s not something you know anything about, or likely ever will, the way you hold onto the burden of anger and hate from 50 or so years ago–and cling like crabs to each other there in that bucket (TBH, Minnesota culture where you live there is in fact a shithole that could use some ammonia poured all over it–I only came back there for….well, you know why).

But know this: I am wishing you all the best, regardless, and in the full capacity of a mothers love, I tell you this: I hopped the edge of that bucket, but there’s a reason for it.

My adorable smiling princess Gina! My treasured little cowboy Jay!

Maybe look deeper, kids. I know you can! Oh, and I have never for a single day forgotten you, the adorable and perfect little angels that you were in those years I was with you–so, please, for your own sake, GET OUT OF THAT BUCKET!



*I learned that phrase when I was young, reading those pulp comics! Do you remember those? I loved them so!

KW: Writing Internet Wrongs

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