I recently put on a blog post a photo of my mom with me in her arms. And now I am putting on this little wooden gift she gave me maybe fifteen years ago. I hang it where I can see it everyday. Not that I look at it everyday. But I know it is there. Since I have been having to do legal stuff about my death, hopefully a long time in the future, I have also been thinking about family. My mother and father and aunts and uncles, all of them no longer alive.
Yesterday a dear friend read my blog post and he reacted by saying that maybe it would have offended my son. I asked him why and he said because I wrote that he is often too busy to keep in touch with me and that I didn't expect him to make a shrine to me. I hope my son didn't react like that to the post. It was not meant as a criticism of him. I KNOW that he is very busy and I KNOW that he loves me.
I never made a shrine to my own mother and I was always too busy for her too. I remember one summer when she asked to come and stay with me a few weeks because she lived in a very hot area, I reacted by saying that I was too busy. I took care of disabled people, especially children and summers were the worst. I was always driving them places. I worked so many hours that I was exhausted all the time. I thought having her there would have put too much pressure on me to entertain her too. But now that she is gone and I have a similar situation with my own son, I understand that it wasn't necessary for me to entertain her. She just wanted to be with me. The way I just want to be with my son and his wife.
I remember one day when my mother was visiting and I came home exhausted from working, she had cleaned up my kitchen, including making my toaster all bright and new looking. For some reason I felt badly instead of realizing that she was there all day with nothing to do and she enjoyed helping me, I felt guilty. I saw it as her criticizing my housekeeping when really it was just her way of showing her love for me. I guess it is a matter of being able to accept a parent's love and the many ways they try to express it to us. Often we can't accept it until they are gone and then it is too late.
I also remember cleaning my son and daughter-in-law's laundry room while I was dog sitting for them. I was so proud of all the work I had done when they came home and I got a very similar response as I gave my mother. Not at all what I had expected. Grown kids need to have boundaries and parents often don't understand that. As parents, we just want to help and give to our children, no matter how old they are and as grown ups, they want to express their independence and sense of themselves, separate from us. That puts us at cross purposes.
One of my favorite movies is Trip to Bountiful. Part of it is about an elderly mother trying to connect with her son on an emotional level. But he is always too busy. She lives with him and his wife and she runs away to where she was born. They come after her and she finally gets him to remember his childhood and how happy he had been there and then know how much she loved him. That was enough for her.
Maybe I think about these things because I am alone. I do not have a mate to take up any of my energy and animals certainly don't make any emotional demands on me. They are much less complicated than people. And parent/child relationships are always complicated..... I must be missing my family. Haven't seen my son and daughter-in-law in almost three years. Here, my friends are my family. I am so grateful to have my friends.
I never appreciated all the cards that my mother gave me. She spent hours reading them in the card store to get just the right one that expressed her love for me. I was always cynical about card sentiments, like the wooden hanging she gave me in the above photograph. But now I know that to her, an uneducated person, cards expressed feelings that she couldn't express herself and that wooden hanging means a great deal to me.
My mother has been visiting me often lately in my dreams. I don't know what that means. Except I hope it means that there is life after death and not that I am going to die soon. I think it means that our mothers and our fathers never stop loving us, even after they die. Their love is always with us. Just as our love for our children is always with them. If children could love themselves even a fraction of how much their parents love them, it would be a different world.