Friday, September 5, 2008

Third Anniversary

I have to preface my post with a disclaimer of sorts. I'm not posting this to ask for your condolences. Actually I ask that you not offer them because quite honestly I don't need them. I am posting this to honor the memory of my mother, who I didn't get the chance to be friends with like most adult daughters grow to be friends with their mothers often get to do. My mother, unlike many I've heard about, let me go into the world even though it must have been incredibly difficult. She had abandonment issues, and subscriptions to other personal caveats that made our lives as her offspring more difficult than our peers' lives. I was not the teenage daughter my mother thought she had once I turned 16 and met the guy who later became my husband. He didn't care much for my mother, mostly because he was an outsider and his empathetic gene got implanted in his backside (this observation stems from 16 years personal experience with him). It added to the situation that my mother's subscriptions hindered the relationship he and I tried to build. He respected her simply because she was my mother, and knowing her even a little may have allowed him a glimpse of why I am the way I am or have been in the past. He amazed me when she was in her final days. He got out of my way, and did what he could to alleviate things around the house so I could focus on my parents. Dad always expected to go first since he was born 20 years before Mom. Dad also wasn't born with a reversed bowel to an abusive alcoholic and manipulative mother who didn't really want children in the first place. I learned more about my mother in her death than I did while she was alive. She kept her story a secret to protect herself, bandaging her wounds in much different fashion than I bandage my own. I vowed that my children would have the opportunity to know more about me while I was alive than they would find out from other places and people when I was gone. I'd like to think that I made peace with my mother's death even before she left this earth, or maybe soon afterwards. I don't know. Maybe I'm just darn good at shoving that stuff aside and I haven't triggered a stampede of emotions. I process things differently than most others I know, so anything is possible. I will tell you that I won't have the same kind of transition when my 82 year old father dies, that's for sure. He literally is the glue in the family, and I fully expect that his 6 children will splinter and polarize. My mother was his second wife, and Dad outlived both wives due in part to that hardy Irish stock from whence we come, and sheer stubbornness I think. There was always animosity between my mom and Dad's first wife, and 2 of the 3 older siblings. One liked to egg her on, the other never understood the dynamic of my parents till Mom died. Dad relied on Mom, Mom relied on Dad. She made him happy after so many years of sadness, and he lived for my mother and my mom lived for my dad. Dad's first marriage was not on that same level, so my sibling was always full of anger, self-pity, and selfish blindness that they lacked the ability to truly see the light till it was no longer there to see. This anniversary, I wanted to finally visit my mother's grave in the Veteran's Cemetery 3 hours south of here. Lots of circumstances, mostly financial, kept me from that. I can go visit anytime, since she's really not going anywhere any time soon. At least, she won't be for a little while. The VA has nearly completed the construction of a new Veteran's Cemetery here, and Dad wants to move Mom as soon as that's possible. I want to visit the current resting place at least once before he does move her. I also fear that as soon as she's moved, we'll be putting Dad there as well soon after. Dad went to Mass this morning, and I was asked to go. Selfishly I did not. Some of it is a financial issue leaving me with not enough gas to get around nearby, much less across town. Plus my daughter needed to be dropped off at school at the same time Mass started. Most of it though is that I can't and just don't want to deal with my father's emotions today. I've been the dumping post for several relatives and their issues. I don't mind really, but it came all at once, coinciding with a raging bout of PMS, and I can't help solve any of it. I can pray for their situation, and that's it. Emotionally it's been a bad week for me and I really didn't feel that taking on anyone else's weaknesses (because I'm overly empathetic that way) was going to be wise for my own and my immediate family's well being. They're the ones that have to live with me day to day, and I can't be torturing them with my own mood swings any more than a normal PMS week would hold. So I left my father and my siblings hanging and did not join them. I told Dad and Sis ahead of time that I wouldn't be there. I got a call from my younger brother asking about it, I think mostly because he couldn't find the chapel where the daily Mass is held in the mornings. I wouldn't know anyway since it's Dad's beautiful, historic parish. Mine is closer to my house, distinctively modern and assaults my sister's sensibilities and sends her into an anxiety attack. I've pondered a variety of things about my mother, including numerous comments from my dad about how much like her I am. Because she bandaged her wounds differently, Dad didn't see that my younger siblings bear part of her as well. He merely sees that I have the tendency to be comfortable with a variety of tasks that my mother did as well. As I repaired a friend's coffee table one Sunday, he said that Mom was like that too. He was impressed when he was informed that I aided the installation of my kitchen cabinets (DH did most of the work though), saying Mom helped him with their home improvements during their 35 year relationship. Yes, Dad, I know. What he forgets is that I learned it by watching him too. I learned what a good husband should be like by watching how he treated my mother. I learned what NOT to do as a parent by watching my mother. I also know she was handed a salty lot in life, and the fact that she handled things as she did really shows that she was stronger than most perceived her to be. She did better as a parent than her own mother did. Likewise, I too am a better parent than my mother was to me most times. I'm not flawless, but I'm more human because of it. Each of her children has a piece of her in them. My brother has her hair, and some of her little quirky gestures. Sis has a lot of mom's mental health stuff, a few gestures and a couple physical features that I lack (as in mammaries with substance). I got mom's food allergies, and temper. We all have both our parents' handiness. So as each year passes since Mom's death, I have come to appreciate my gifts from her. I no longer resent my siblings mean-spirited commentary from several years ago about how I'm "JUST like Mom" because once I got to know her better posthumously, I now take it as a compliment. I'd still like to think I'm more like Dad though, but ultimately every child is a mix of their co-creators and their experiences.

Sometimes I do miss my mother, but she raised us to be independent of her for good reason. I often find myself a little envious of most of my friends who still have their mothers around to dislike and be frustrated by them, because three years ago, I lost that privilege. So when I embarass my children, or frustrate them, or whatever it is I do to them because you know mothers push the buttons (hey we installed them!), I hope that someday my children will relish those moments with me in their lives even if it doesn't happen till I'm a memory.

5 comments:

Tracy Fiebranz said...

No condolences from me. Just know, I can relate!

fazzey said...

Enjoyed your memories and thoughts!!

Persnickety Ticker said...

As I get older, and grow more like my mom, I get closer to her. I am not sure how this makes me feel, but it does scare me sometimes.

Just wanted to tell you, cuz you may not have known, and I don't want to upset you, but because of what you went through with your mom, and the subsequent years of not having her around, and my watching the effect it has had on you, I have made a more concerted effort to get to know my mom.

Thank you for helping me to realize that I needed to get to know her as a person and not just "mom" because it has helped my life a lot of ways.

I would be lost without either one of you. Love you.

(Sorry for the run-on sentences. You may now flog me with a "Mead" stick.)(that sounded wrong on many levels...Imma shut up now.)

Feisty Irish Wench said...

Eh, I lost my "Mead stick" somewhere in one of the moves. Besides I lost qualification to use it the more spawn I spawned. The more a woman spawns, the fewer brain cells she retains. Personally if a person is to lose the suckers, it's a lot more fun to do so while smoking something, versus dealing with diapers, drool, then the teen years...

MrsSoersdal said...

No condolences it is. Really nice post, though. Your mom sounds a lot like mine.