Today marks the 81st year of my Mother’s birth. It’s also 10 months less a day since she died.
I miss my Mother more than I ever thought possible. I relive her last days, when I lived with her at her condo. When the LHIN denied my request for help and I was trying to lift and carry her around on my own. Her falling in the shower when I lost my footing. How her legs stopped supporting her and she collapsed on the floor like a house of cards. The fear in her eyes as we both realized my help was inadequate and with the LHIN’s refusal to assist, she’d have to go into the hospital. That’s what she always said she didn’t want, but she accepted it with stoicism and never blamed me. We didn’t predict this. We couldn’t have.
At a certain point of life you realize your parents did their best. Perhaps their best was wanting but it was all they could pull together at the time. I’ve written before about my bumpy relationship with my Mother and the distance I created between us. I felt it was a matter of survival. Her anxiety was exhausting and put me on the defensive. I see TV characters that mimic some of her behavior. Even in my 30s, her first reaction upon seeing me was to walk up to me, grab my hair and criticize it. It didn’t matter where we were. She couldn’t help herself.
My Mom grew up the second-youngest of four on a working farm. Her Dad had died when she was ten. She worked all summer in the tobacco fields and turned over every cent to her Mom. One year, she kept enough money to buy two reversible skirts and two sweaters for school so she would have something new for once. It was a sensible purchase but my Grandmother didn’t see it that way. She was furious. When I think about how our parents showered us with new everything before the start of a school year, I want to cry for my young Mom. She dropped out of school in Grade 10 to look after her “dying” mother. Grandma lived another 30+ years. The drama, the anxiety and the catastrophizing was modelled for my Mom most of her life by her own Mother.
My Grandmother had immigrated from Poland as a child and got her first job at age 10. She was widowed at 40 with 4 young kids and no education. Her own Mother had it worse. The circle of life.
When Mom got sick and I started spending so much more time with her, we talked about everything. I confessed to shenanigans she was unaware of. She told me she wished her priorities were different when we were kids. I assured her it was all okay.
There are always reasons why a person behaves a certain way. They’re making up for something lacking in their own lives. Or responding to a threat that only they can see. It’s something real and valid to them. I wish I could have seen it that way when I was younger but that’s not how it works. I did the best I could and so did she.