When we talked about mom, you said, “I don’t know how you did it!” It seems to you that I still hoped for my mother’s love; and that you left such hope in childhood and moved on. You imagine yourself putting your mother in a home; she hasn’t really earned much more from you. Her love was a thin veneer at its best.
Spending time with Mom was predictably excruciating. Many times I averted my eyes, as a way to endure her run-on sentences. Judge-jury-executioner, she leveled her stony hot gaze upon life’s betrayers, which ranged from poorly made tea to lost, last hopes for rescue from her failing health. My self defense tactic was so blatant that a few weeks before she died, she unsheathed a new accusation, “You know you NEVER look me in the eye when we talk!”
How I did it, friend, was graceless, irrational, unkindly. How I did it isn’t important to me now, and it surely isn’t important to her. Rest assured, it was much uglier than you imagine.
But why I did it, why? That lives with me everyday. Years ago, I understood that by far the cruelest thing my mother ever did to me was reject my inept expressions of love for her, a cruelty I am equally capable of. We all know such rejection is the only way to really wound another person. It was MY love for her that I wanted to rescue. I chose what I did selfishly, for me. I resurrected my yearning for forgiveness between us, even though I never uttered those words to her. I undertook what I had to do because I deserve to express the love I feel in my life, irrespective of the other persons’ ability to reciprocate it. That her stay here was so short disappointed me. I was prepared for much longer, much worse; a siege on my life that might last years.
Over this one topic, my mother had no control. I loved her; that was the demon I had to face. I didn’t do anything for anyone, except me. And it cost me nothing that I have not been compensated since, more than I could ever have dreamed.