Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Thoughts on Filial Opportunity

I was going to write about the Patriot Act today, but then Ronni posted about her father and I saw this piece on caring for parents who didn't take care of you. My blog discipline will just have to wait for another day, and today I'll write about what speaks to me.
My mother moved back to her childhood hometown back in the early '80s. She'd led an interesting life, and was looking forward to enjoying time with family and old friends. In 1999 I found myself living alone and making increasingly frequent trips back for her hospitalizations. As the years had passed so had her siblings, her classmates from 1935, and all but one of her first cousins who did not drive. I packed her stuff into a Ryder truck, and drove it back after I flew her out to California.
There were times... times I was glad I'd done it... times when I wondered... darn sure there were times when she wondered! In the piece it talks about the guilt. Two of my sisters and I were placed in foster care... I'd just turned seven... and I didn't return home until my 14th birthday when she graduated from college. I worked and paid my keep from then until I joined the Navy. I asked myself "why me?" Well, it was because it needed to be done and I could, and my sisters couldn't; and one does feel like crap for asking the question.
To make a long story short, I believe it worked out to be a blessing. I don't know that I'd recommend it to everyone; but at the end of the day (we buried Mom in January, 2003) my sisters and I were closer, we'd all had a chance to come to terms with some childhood issues and make our peace together with our mother, and we were all there at her passing.
I guess if there's a point to this it might be that there may be an opportunity where one see's only duty. In the meantime, if there's a subject I haven't gone off on, please let me know or be patient and I'll get to it eventually.


Anonymous Ronni Bennett said...

For many years, I didn't think I liked my mother much - that if she hadn't been my mother, I wouldn't have chosen her for a friend. We had so little in common, I thought, in my youthful arrogance, and I didn't believe she had much to teach me.

There were times, like you AQ, when I asked, "why me?"

Then she was diagnosed with inoperable cancer and I went to California to care for her in her final months.

You know that old Mark Twain line about how much his father learned in four years they'd not visited? Perhaps that applies to all of us.

In the months I cared for my mother, I discovered how much she'd taught me. Never through spoken lessons - "do this," "don't do that" - but by example.

And it took me 12 years after her death to be able to write about her and her dying and the lessons and how she lived with the cards life dealt her and how it took me so long to appreciate her.

It seems to take forever to grow up enough to understand that our parents did the best they could.

7:24 AM  
Blogger Tamar said...

It took me to write a book that had been developing inside me for years, to forgive my parents for being human and vulnerable. I found that after that, I became grateful and realized how much strength and courage my mother had instilled in me.

My childhood wasn't easy for me but I have come to understand that my mother is a work of art! My father was a kind, confused, gentle, timid and charming old man. He was 55 when I was born and died in 1981... I travelled to Zimbabwe from Israel and was by his side when he died.

I wrote my mother a letter a few years ago that she cherishes. Said she would take it with her into her grave. So she and I might be at peace when she dies. For now she is still alert and going strong at 88!

2:49 PM  

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