We leave for Florida on Sunday. This is the first time ever that we have decided to “go south” for the winter. We are both originally from the Northeast, but my husband decided that the “winter” in Tennessee is now to much.
Any other year, I would be thrilled at the prospect of spending two months in a condominium on the beach in sunny Florida. That is, once I got over my angst of what to pack, going some place different, and breaking my daily routine. This year, I am happy, but also have an underlying sense of foreboding.
We are both embroiled in end of life scenarios with our parents. My husbands father is still in NY, in his cottage by the ocean, driving, and living alone at age 99.
My mother is in assisted living, has two terminal cancers, and if her oncologist is correct, will not see Christmas this year.
I decided to go to Missouri last week to see my mother again. Last time was wonderful with all the family around, but I did not feel that I had enough time alone with her. I wanted another visit, a more personal one, to say good bye, just in case.
As I have written about before, my relationship with my mother is difficult. In my perception, I have always been the least loved of her three children. My mother loves and respects men, I believe that this is a generational thing. Men make her feel more secure, taken care of, and protected.
Women, are competition. They take attention and focus off of her. I don’t know why this is her mind set. Maybe it is because she was the only girl in her family, or maybe it was because she was beautiful and easily commanded attention from men, but it is how she is to this day.
I have struggled with this all of my life. I have always questioned why I wasn’t good enough, or smart enough to be a trusted adviser as both my brothers are. I have always felt that she loved them more.
I have tried in the past to address my feelings with my mother, but she has always vehemently denied any favoritism. Now, it is too late, and I have to let it go.
This proved a little more difficult than I had anticipated. As she made unwittingly hurtful comments,, I tried my best to keep a smile plastered to my face. I was not, under any circumstances, going to confront her or ruin our time together. I internalized all of my hurt.
That worked well until Friday morning when I woke up at 4:45 am and laid in bed sobbing like a child.
Written early morning on 11/21:
I am here, with my mom because I felt that I needed to see her before my husband and I went to Florida. She was given two months to live in October, and we will be gone for December and January.
I have survivors guilt. I feel as though I should be living with her in the assisted living. I feel I should be there to take care of her and hold her hand when she dies.
I think that if I do these things, then maybe, just maybe, she will love me as much as she loves my two brothers. If I am there for her in that way, then maybe she will be there for me in the way I have been searching for for so long.
I will inevitably have to come to terms with this. It is how it has always been, and it is how it will be in the end. I need to somehow let this go. To realize that she did the best she could to love me in her way, it just wasn’t enough for me. It is clearly enough for her.
Nothing I can say, at this point, will change what is, and how it has been for so long. I also realize that this is my perception, and may not be what is truly in her heart.
I will come to terms with this, and work extremely hard to let it go. In the end, this will not be the important thing for me to carry in my heart. I will need to remember the love and support that she offered me, maybe it wasn’t my way, but it was hers. I am going to work to close the book on this.
Thankfully I have a wonderful husband who doesn’t mind being awoken by a sobbing woman at 6 am. Between him and my sponsor, I got my head in the right place.
I may not have had the relationship that I thought I should have had with my mother, but she gave me the best of what she was capable of. I can live with that.
I have also given her the best of me. I have done all that I could possibly do to love her and take care of her since my father left 35 years ago. That counts for something, even if I am the only one who sees it.
Our last day together was special. We spent a lot of time talking about the past, the present and what the future holds, for both of us.
When I left, I reached down and hugged her small, fragile body,she told me she will still be there in February, and that she loves me so much,
I believe she does, and that is enough for me.