She Called Me Morning Glory

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Mom died 6 years ago today. An Ode to Mom…

Mother Daughter relationships? Books are written about them, so intertwined, close and deep. Since I only had one Mother it’s not fair to say this, but I think the more complicated ones are the hardest to grieve, and missed the most. 

My mother left me a poem given to me after her death. It said, “Don’t cry at my grave.” 

Of course I did, many times. Hating graveyards in the past, I frequented hers, once falling to the ground weeping for my loss, holding out my arms like an embrace to the earth, to her… never having the chance again to say more. 

At least something in me brought me to her bedside the day before her dying. “Mom, I’m sorry.” 

“But I should apologize to you?” Her crystal blue eyes on me. 

“No,” I said, shaking my head. “You never left me. I held rage for you all my life, never letting it go, yet you stuck by me, no matter what.” 

I wrote the poem below after her death, in pain unlike I ever felt, a cloak of heavy pain that went on for several years, though each year became easier.  

And I would not have been able to reach this point, to feel sorry for my own behavior, and to have forgiven her, if I had not asked the hard questions. And I asked them only the last years of her life, when she dragged around the oxygen hose slugging the walker slowly from room to room; when disease and dying was staring her in the face.

“You blamed me,” I told her, anger erupting over the phone, the only place I feel relatively safe to confront someone.

“No, I did not!” she expressed shocked. 

She meant it. Yet as a little girl with her sitting across from me in my bedroom, hot shaming tears dripping a fiery path down my cheeks onto my lap as she told me, “Tell me if it ever happens again.” I felt admonished, made responsible, as if I had the power to not only stop it but would be helped if I told. I had told before after Danny’s attack and she hadn’t helped me then. But we didn’t talk about that. We didn’t talk about what needed to be talked about. No wonder I raged. Talk quells fires as if washed by the rain.   

But I couldn’t. Not until she was weakened by infirmity, age and disease. Oz was exposed as mere human after all. But she loomed so greatly above me all those years. Now equals. Two women with heartache finally talking. My mom.  

It haunted me. That fall after she died I carried my guilt heavy. The therapist I chose lifted me. She said it was good that Mom cried all day after I had finally asked her the difficult questions. Well, I didn’t think it was ‘good’ at all, but the therapist helped me let go of the guilt and I went on OK, believing Mom would not want me to suffer over it. Because after she died, I realized just how much she did love me and how much she helped me despite the childhood years when she did not.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

ONE MOMENT

 Is one moment enough? One moment of pure love Over an entire lifetime?

Was it enough for her? Is it enough for me? 

Our love/hate relationship, Hate finally ending

When her life was ending, Etching my heart

With wishes for more. Something said I didn’t like,

Still I did not waver from her gaze. Her eyes purely lit, she knew.

She had been waiting for it, The usual criticism did not come. 

One moment. We had One moment Of pure Love

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15 thoughts on “She Called Me Morning Glory

  1. I just have tears running down my face. I’m sorry your mom is gone, but so glad you talked to her. I think one moment is enough, i think its more than a lot of people get in their adult lives. Sending hugs today. I hope you do something kind for yourself today. Xx

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    1. Yes, one moment was enough. I had the kernel of wisdom to go down tough roads of approaching someone so infirm to get me where I needed to be in order to live a life with some peace. Thank you so much for such compassion…

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  2. I called it Pandora’s box after my mom died because I used my anger towards pushing down any other feelings that had built up over the years. As long as I could still be angry I didn’t have to go through any of the other stages. When she died Pandora’s box came flying up and hit like I ton of bricks. I completely agree that we grieve them more than normal. I miss my mom all the time and sometimes I wish I could just hear her voice one more time!

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  3. Oh, my. Such a complicated thing, mothers and daughters, especially when their shared history includes the ultimate betrayal, and we are violated within our own home. I’m encouraged to know you shared that one moment, reaching across the chasm. In some ways, I think everything within us has to rise up and grasp for the thing we know will help sustain us in the coming days and months and years. Even if only one moment, it is essential for our peaceful survival. I look back at these moments, now, years after my mother has passed, and know it was a gift.

    For each of us, if this moment appears in our lives, it shows up in different ways. One of my first such moments with my mom was after she had suffered a stroke. She went from living independently, to diapers and relying on others for every single thing in her life. In the days following her stroke, I saw a person who was completely at the mercy of others, frightened and confused, and much of the hatred and rage for her began to melt away during those hospital visits. I didn’t know it then, but I would eventually go on to become her primary caretaker for about six years, eventually moving her into my home, until she passed away from the complications of various conditions. But that first day, standing at the foot of her hospital bed; that day was the beginning of letting go; the beginning of the process of healing.

    She eventually had to learn how to walk again, and feed herself, and speak, and all the other things we take for granted in our daily lives. Fortunately, she went on to regain most of what she lost, but big blocks of her memory were gone forever. For her, that was HER gift. Of course, during that six year time span, after she had regained motor movement and the ability to converse easily, we had many, many long conversations. We would go out to lunch together, or spend time at the park, or I would take her for little daytime adventures. We had a lifetime of healing in a short amount of time. Sadly, when the Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s advanced, she eventually lost the ability to speak, or walk, or to recognize me, but by then, I was only concerned for her comfort and peace. It was torture for me to see her slip away in tiny increments, disappearing more and more. In some ways, I’ve always believed that being her primary caretaker during those last six years gave me the opportunity to achieve as close to perfect healing as possible, especially as it pertained to her. Some called it a burden, but for me, despite the difficulty, I also had to acknowledge the gift. We had those six years. I can’t be anything but grateful for that.

    Perhaps you had only that one moment, but when that moment is pure and true, it can be enough. I’ll be thinking of your mother today, (and mine), and sending up thoughts of gratitude and love. Grateful for those moments, precious and true.

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    1. So beautifully written. Thank you for reminding me of more than the ‘one moment’ but also many other pleasurable hours we spent together. Remember, and feel grateful. So helpful.

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  4. The mother daughter relationship is surely complex. Thanks for sharing. I am glad that you had the moment of reconciliation. I hear the guilt but it seems like you have moved or are moving through it. Much peace to you.

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    1. Oh yes, I moved through it that winter with the help of a therapist. Thank you.
      I put toe nail polish on which made me honor her in a happy way. She loved keeping her nails polished and was much more girly girl than me. This polish on my toes has to last all summer… not sure what she’d think of purple, but hope she’s smiling … : )

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  5. I know that feeling; I too felt blamed by my mother. But after reading your post, maybe it was in my head and that is not what she felt at all. It is what my child’s mind felt, blamed and shamed and responsible and bad. Yes, talking about it would have made all the difference. Maybe one day my mother and I can have that conversation or just one honest moment about what happened. But I don’t see it happening while my father is alive. Who knows?

    The purple nail polish is a great idea; it’s both symbolic and hopeful.

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        1. I wanted to add something about how easily it is to feel blamed in childhood, maybe even if the people involved didn’t mean it that way. Even a certain look in the eyes of another makes one feel bad. Any little nuance is taken to heart and solidifies the shame, too often cementing it.

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  6. Oh the pain! I could not handle facing moments like this with my mother. I am impressed at your strength. I pray, when you and your mother meet in heaven, you will have many more moments of pure love. Those are the moments I look forward to, the ones in heaven when my mother is no longer being imprisoned by my father.

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    1. I like that thought. I think she’s here sometimes, especially when I’m digging in the flower bed and making arrangements in vases…a love of hers which I’m sure inspired me.
      I’m sorry your mother won’t choose a little bit of heaven right now by separating from him.

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