Damaged, but beautiful.
As children, do we ever see our parents – our mothers – as people? Do we ever think that our mothers were so alive, so vibrant, that people waited for them to arrive so the party could start?!
My mom was a passionate woman who made decisions with her heart, got hurt, and vowed never to be hurt again. (How many of us try to protect ourselves from heartache?)
She was the valedictorian of her high school class (okay, it was a small high school in a Colorado mountain town, but it’s better to be first than 25th, right?), was given a voice scholarship to Colorado Women’s College (and turned it down because that school didn’t have the prestige of the University of Colorado…not the last time pride would take a chunk out of this woman.) She had a beautiful voice, was an accomplished pianist, became an oil painter in her later years
I think she was a very sexual woman, in the most chaste of ways. Remember she was born in 1923 and dealt with all the mores and societal expectations of her generation. She told me once that she had a boyfriend (Jewish man) who kissed the tips of her fingers and she found that to be such an erotic, sensual experience. She was raped as a young high school girl (it would be called date rape now-a-days.) Her youngest sister thought she was going straight to hell. One did not talk to parents about such things because of the shame, but more because sex was a topic not discussed in that time. She married an Irish-Italian Catholic at the end of World War II (her mother thought she was going straight to hell) and had me.
How different her life might have been had she accepted that scholarship and gone to college. But then I wouldn’t be me, I wouldn’t have had the life I had, married the man I did, given birth to my only child. Often I have wished my mother had chosen a different path for her sake though I can’t imagine not being who I am…I guess no one can!
I have been told by therapists that my role in my family was to carry my mother’s pain. Was that a choice I made or my path? Has it crippled me or made me someone who can feel the pain of another person? Is empathy a way we work through our own sadness and longing for what might have been or a skill we are given so we might serve others?
Today, my daughter and I went on a wonderful morning adventure hike, bought roses to take to the cemetery for my mom and my mother-in-law (another damaged woman), came back to my house for champagne, lunch and to plan a trip together this summer. This was the best Mother’s Day I have ever had…because of what we did, sure, but more because of who my daughter and I have become and how we have worked to be mother and daughter.
My mother died 17 years ago. I am like her in many ways. I still work to free myself from her.
Happy Mother’s Day.