Sunday, May 13, 2012

Heart of A Mother

“The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness.” -- Honoré de Balzac

I thought I’d get through today without crying, but I was wrong.

It’s been nearly 10 years since my mother died and I was certain that Mother’s Day wouldn’t affect me the way it had when we first lost her.

And then I thought of the importance of this day while I was doing the breakfast dishes and the tears started to flow. I still miss her so much.

There are so many things I want to share with her, so many things I want to ask her, and so many stupid, selfish words, deeds and missteps that I want to apologize for that it’s driving me crazy.

I think about all the anguish I caused her as I struggled to find a career and then I’m reaching for the tissues once more.

Both my parents are gone and there are times when I feel like I’ve been set adrift in some vast ocean and land is nowhere in sight. And my Aunt Margaret’s death on Thursday is adding to that feeling of loss and abandonment.

My mother spent her last years in and out of hospitals and even then she would try to comfort me.

"Don't worry about me," she said to me one time and I rolled my eyes.

"Ask me not to breathe," I said.

Road Trip

Saturday was my sister’s birthday and it honor of that fabulous event the three of us—sister, myself, and our Aunt Marie—took off for the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx.

The weather was lovely and the garden is so beautiful that the city seems to disappear as you go deeper into the green. We actually saw a rabbit--an honest to God rabbit--running across the path ahead of us. I wonder if he was late for a very important date…

At one point during our walk, a little boy came charging toward us.

“Wait for Mommy,” my sister told him, but he wasn’t having any of that.

“I don’t want her,” he angrily declared and kept going up the path.

His mother came up a few seconds later and then we heard the little guy crying his way through a first rate temper tantrum.

“He didn’t want his mother,” I said. “He’ll change his mind about that one day.”

I have this distant memory of throwing a tantrum of my own when I was this kid’s age. I have no idea what it was about—as if kids actually need a reason to have a tantrum—but I recall shouting for my mother to “leave me alone!”

She seemed a little hurt by this and when she very gently said okay, that she would leave me alone, I cried even harder. I didn’t want her to leave me alone at all—not then and certainly not now.

My sister reminded me that little kids say all sorts of things because they don’t know any better. I’m trying to apply that logic to the ugly things I've said over the years, but it’s not easy.

I usually hate it when people speak for the departed, but I know that our mother wouldn’t want us to roil in guilt over some ancient argument—even though I have this strange gift for dredging up bad memories at light speed.

When she forgave us for something we did, she forgave us 100 percent, no questions asked.

That’s something to think about this Mother’s Day and for all the days that follow.


Ron said...

Once again, Rob, your words here touched me deeply.

Beautiful post!

"Don't worry about me," she said to me one time and I rolled my eyes.

"Ask me not to breathe," I said."

Yes, I know exactly what you mean because of what my mother is going through right now.

And I also know what you mean about it affecting you 10 years later because I felt the same way about the passing of both my biological mother and father. It took years for it to finally sink in. I had more of a reaction years later, than I did when they passed.

"When she forgave us for something we did, she forgave us 100 percent, no questions asked."

Isn't that amazing about mothers? They truly embody the meaning of unconditional love.

You're a good man, Rob, and I know that your mother looks down at you with tremendous pride and joy!

Have a great week, buddy!

Rob K said...

Gosh, Ron, you got me blubbering all over again! Thank you for saying such kind things. Losing our parents is probably the most traumatic experience we go through in this life and I'm glad I can share my feelings with someone who knows what it's like.

Jay at The Depp Effect said...

I could have written this post, changing very few details.

My mother died last May and this year has been quite extraordinarily difficult for me, particularly Christmas, and the past few months. Her birthday was in March, and then I've had not one, but TWO Mother's Days thrown at me courtesy of the internet, plus of course, the anniversary of her stroke and subsequent death.

I particularly identify with the 'roiling in guilt' because, apart from wanting to tell her things and seeing things I want to buy her, I am constantly remembering the days I 'didn't have time' to ring her, or drive the two hours to see her. And the times she rang me and told me the same things over and over again, or long involved stories about people I'd never met. Like you, I know she'd be saying not to dwell on it, that it was OK, that all kids (big and small) do things like this - and indeed, I remember her complaining about the drive to see her own mother when she was elderly - but none of this stops you torturing yourself, does it?

So. I completely understand, and deeply sympathise. People tell me it will get easier, and maybe it will, but we have to forgive ourselves first. I'm still working on that, but I think that after ten years, my friend, you have suffered enough for your 'sins' and should let it go. Just mourn for your loss, accept that you can't change the past and what you did wasn't so very different from 90% of the rest of us, and let the guilt go.

So many people are walking that walk with you. Perhaps you can take comfort in that?

Rob K said...

First Ron gets me weeping and now you! You only just lost your mother so it must be much more painful for you.

Thank you so much for your kindness and insights, Jay. I will make effort to let these toxic feelings go--and having people like you and Ron in my life make that job much easier.