January 26, 2015 — I once read that when a mother dies it can set a daughter free.
Strange words. I didn’t understand what the author meant when I read the article all those years ago, and now that my mother has passed away, I’m even less sure.
To be fair, I don’t remember the rest of the article clearly. It may have had something to do a mother’s criticism and a daughter trying to be perfect, but those words seem insensitive, so there has to be something more to it than that.
Perhaps I don’t get it because my mother didn’t criticize much. On occasion, she would tell me I looked tired, or that I looked like the last rose of summer, which wasn’t a compliment since the last rose of summer, the one that hung around through all the heat and humidity, looks withered and parched. Being of Irish heritage, she was also fond of saying “You are big and ugly enough to do it yourself,” whenever she thought I should handle something on my own. That sounds like criticism, but I never took it that way, and laughed it off.
I’ve never tried to act as if I were perfect for her either, but if you asked any of her nine grandchildren, they would tell you she was perfect, and she thought they were perfect, too. They could do no wrong in her eyes, and my father was fond of saying that if there was such a thing as reincarnation, he wanted to come back as one of her grandchildren.
All of us are still coming to terms about what happened. And that experience will continue for a while. The past few months were spent visiting her in the hospital, in a rehabilitation facility, in the hospital again, and finally in hospice. That’s enough to throw anyone off kilter.
Strangely, there is a positive side. I visited her daily in these places, and got to spend a lot of time with her. That wouldn’t have happened if she had been at home; I would have phoned her a few times a week, and visited on the weekends, but I would have lived by the excuse that my life was too busy and too complicated to visit so often.
We said our final goodbye at the cemetery this morning, and now life can return to a normal routine. I return to work tomorrow, I can get back to a set blogging schedule, and maybe even go to the movies. Still, the experience has changed me, and I can’t help but feel my normal routine will become nothing more than a distraction. For the time being, anyway.
Thank you Mom for all that you did for me. Your passing did not free me, but it made me realize how lucky I was to be your daughter.