The further we get from our past, the kinder and more forgiving we become of our memories. Haven’t you had someone pass from your life, that has either moved on or really moved on from this earthly life? Looking back on that relationship isn’t it easier to see both sides and be more forgiving now that enough time has passed to retain more of the good memories involved in that relationship than the bad?
I loved my mother. I left home when I was eighteen to attend college , and although I never lived at home again, Mother was the constant force that kept me moving forward in my life, no matter how many miles separated us, or how hard my circumstances became. She was always my best cheerleader. In my heart, she was always someone I wanted to emulate.
A perfect woman.
She pushed me to audition for Romper Room when I had little or none of the required background that the other’s seeking the job had. She had a ‘feeling’ about the man I married, yet when he was diagnosed with schizophrenia, she was there emotionally, a pillar of support when I thought I would not survive mentally or financially through it all. My mother walked through the fire with me. She was my rock. And it was this super strength and will that allowed her to love me unconditionally. No matter what stresses I brought into her life, she never abandoned me. And never a day goes by, that I don’t think if her and wish I could pick up the phone to hear her assuring voice again.
Studies reveal that as we get older our personality traits become more pronounced. Because I left home at such an early age, the impressions I had of my mother were established through immature eyes. And until I brought her to live with me after my father died in 1987 that is the unrealistic image I had of her.
But it did not take me long to be able to see my mother within an adult’s perspective. I soon came to realize that Mother’s strength actually was a form of control over everything in her environment. As a child, I welcomed the attention, but in my 50’s I needed to breathe on my own. My childlike view that Mother was a saint and could do wrong would slowly erode throughout our remaining years together.
Little things like hiding candy under her chair so she wouldn’t have to share, I attributed to her life as one of ten children where sharing would have left little for her. That never really bothered me, but her strong will finally became quite problematic when she stubbornly refused to give up driving even after mistaking the gas peddle for the brake causing her to break through my double front gates and land in the middle of my side lawn closest to the ocean cliff. She was late for a ride to a wedding, so she walked away leaving the car with its wheels dug into the dirt of what remained of my torn up lawn. A wonderful present for me when I arrived home from New York two days later. Somehow she ‘forgot’ to tell me before I came home.
Mother had a mild stroke later that year and under doctor ‘s orders, she entered a rehabilitation facility for physical therapy after that stroke. This was only temporary, but one would think we had sent her to Siberia. What was I thinking!
Had I been clairvoyant I would have prepared myself for what followed. Just three days into her stay at the facility, I got a call in New York close to midnight from the center saying my mother was missing. My husband an I jumped into the car and sped through Lincoln Tunnel back to New Jersey. I was a wreck, thinking the worst.
Well, we finally found her. There she was, nestled cozily back at my house, looking so innocent. She had talked a friend into taking her out on the guise that she would be returning.
But, in the end, I really should have known better to think she would stay there, because she pulled that stunt once more a few weeks later. She remained totally defiant until we decided to let her do what she was determined to do, forget rehab, and remain master of her own fate.
I was not strong enough to go against her, but I knew we had to somehow make her life safer. Whether she liked it or not. She had to accept that living alone in my big remote house was not good nor the best lifestyle for her. The only thing we could do to keep her somewhat independent was to move her down the hill into our small borough where she would have neighbors to check on her and walking ability to all of the comforts of her day. That was the only concession she allowed me, but I don’t think she ever forgave me, either. And on top of that, made sure she told the world how her daughter had betrayed her.
Mother died two years later of another stroke, but she left me, the way she wanted. Living on her own terms. She asked her nurse for her lipstick. Then, a force greater than her’s came and she slipped off quickly and quietly.
In the end, Mother was in control as much as she could ever be facing the unknown powers greater than herself. And I was left with an overpowering, overwhelming loss. Loss of her, her touch, of her strength.
My having to let go of my childhood vision of who she was, was a hard revelation. Probably the hardest lesson I had to learn. I was faced with the reality that she was indeed only human after all.