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November 3, 2015

Elderly Mothers and Love

 

 

Miami Wedding Jan. 1945 Real love

Mom and Dad, Miami Wedding Jan. 1945

“Love you.”

“Yeah, love you, too.”

I said it as I left Mom yesterday. I said it as I do every day, without thought, perhaps without meaning, maybe even without real feeling. Was it guilt and resentment and anger, rather than love? What is love and why am I having such a hard time with it and my feelings toward my mother?

My cousin sent me a wonderful article by Grief Counselor Kerry Egan. In it, she discusses love and the things her dying patients say about it.  “They talk about the love they felt, and the love they gave.  Often they talk about love they did not receive, or the love they did not know how to offer, the love they withheld, or maybe never felt for the ones they should have loved unconditionally.” She also talks about the resentments we sometimes feel toward our loved ones.

A dear, kind, loving friend from Writing Group and I were discussing our elderly mothers. Since her mother’s passing, she has been harboring feelings of guilt at having felt anger and frustration toward her dying mother. She knew she was “supposed” to feel love for her mother.  She was afraid she hadn’t. I know exactly what she meant.

I should love my mother more. I admire those who love their parents unconditionally. I hear them talking about how much they love them and what terrible grief they feel at losing a beloved parent. Tears, emotions, heartache. A very long time ago, my father died, upsetting our lives and leaving us bereft. I could not cry at the funeral. I have since but not then. Why not me? Why is there nothing there? Or is there love hidden somewhere that I can’t find it?

Why do I feel resentment? Not anger, exactly, but just a smoldering resentment over the many hours Mom left us with the maids in Mexico, ignoring us for her bridge club, her painting group, her Junior League. And when we came to the United States, did she ignore us again by immersing herself in her Masters and then later her doctorate? She certainly never wanted to explain anything so scandalous as sex to her seventeen year-old daughter.Did she perhaps not notice us, what our interests were, what we did, or didn’t do in school?

Mom and Al strolling at sister-n-law's house.

Mom and Al strolling at sister-n-law’s house.

Oh, please! I write such Horse hockey! She was busy living her life and working her butt off to support us! I’m sure my siblings remember it differently. She herself would disagree. She assures me all the time that she is proud of me, that she loves me unconditionally. But, in my mind, there is always the niggling doubt, the comment, the glance, the feeling that she expects me to do better, be thinner, be richer, be smarter. Can I blame her for not having supported me in my writing? Would I have written the Great American Novel by now if she had? To be honest, no, probably not.

My friends accuse me of being an overachiever. Did I, in a desperate bid for her attention, drive myself to get a doctorate, like she had? Again, probably not. Can I blame my failures or my ambitions or my own frustrations on my mother? There is nothing more senseless than blaming the past, whether our parents or our upbringing, for our shortcomings. Or for our successes either, for that matter.

Love is, without doubt, a pain! A pain in the head. A pain in the heart. A pain in the gut. A pain in the nether regions. But it is a pain we can’t avoid. We feel love and its sometimes attendant pain, whether to a greater or a lesser degree, toward most of those we meet. In my case, I wonder what love is as it relates to my elderly mother. I truly don’t know.

 

Elderly Mothers, General
About Caroline Castillo Crimm

Retired Professor Emeritus from Sam Houston State University, interested in writing novels and speaking about topics such as the history of Latin American. Would like to share the AMAZING world of the 18th century in Northern New Spain, that's Spanish Texas and Mexico!

7 Comments
  1. All too true and too close to home. Thanks for your honest revelation of the same feelings we all have had at one time or another.
    My solution:
    With God’s help, Focus. Focus on what is true, honest, right, pure and loveley. Focus on those things that are excelent and worthy of praise.
    Helps keep me sane.

    J.

  2. You got to my heart, when I went through my journey with Mom, I wish I had your talent to write what I was feeling I know now you only have to love them and let go of all your hurt, at the end we all love in different ways.your writing will help you to heal.❤️

  3. I will never forget in the stationwagon at school when mom picked all of us up, and mom turned around to tell you the news
    about your father. I turned to look at you (I was in the front seat), and your face was in shock, you also quietly lowered
    your head to assimilate the terrible news. There was no cry, no tears. I remember that well, I had never seen someone so
    stoic. Except for my mother. I rarely ever saw her cry. The last years we hugged and told each other we loved each other.

  4. Wow! Yes, I remember that ride like it was yesterday. That goodness we had your Mom. And Mom was stoic too. I guess it was bred into us.

  5. Now that Tita mentioned it, I too remember that day Mom picked us up…I can’t remember if I cried or not, I’m sure I did, but I do remember you, Puggy, not crying. One thing I do remember is that for years later, all through my teens, I felt Joe looking down at me; every time I did something I wasn’t supposed to or thought I wasn’t supposed to and whenever I was privately alone, he was always there. Strange. To this day, whenever I am at, or view, the west side of division del Norte and Canada, I see the crash of Joe’s blue car. So, that event and his death obviously impacted me.
    As for love between Mom and I, I know she loved me to the end, as I did her – almost unconditionally. But after Daddy died, the demonstration of her love towards me changed. She never again hugged me like she used to, and the older and sicker she got, the less she wanted to be touched – the more I yearned to touch her, hug her and her me. It was never to be. Thus, I had a really hard time letting go of her hand when Carlos closed the casket. Real grief…unresolved to this day.

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