Sunday, May 01, 2016


Random memories of an outsider

It's odd what you remember sometimes.

From childhood’s hour I have not been

As others were--I have not seen

As others saw--I could not bring

My passions from a common spring--

From the same source I have not taken

My sorrow--I could not awaken

My heart to joy at the same tone--

And all I lov’d--I lov’d alone--
What I wanted--what I always wanted-- was to be accepted. To be seen and not found wanting when compared to my siblings, cousins, or my mother's friends' children. It never, ever happened.

On the last day of her life, I sat on the side of her bed, trying to keep her calm so she wouldn't struggle against the oxygen and palliative medications as she had been earlier in the evening. 
Having been with her every day for 5 years, I had accepted the inevitability of her death. It was different for my brothers. 

She had put my brother through the wringer on the late night shift, and his wife had insisted he go home, grab a shower, some breakfast and some sleep while I took the next watch. He was in need of a break

Mom wasn't a warm and fuzzy person in the best of times, and when upset she could be tough to take. 

I make dark jokes about it, but this really was our very last conversation.

Me:  "You know, Mom, I know I was never the kind of daughter you wanted, but I think in the end I was the kind you needed."

Her response was classic Mom. "You were always so strange. I never understood a goddamn thing about you." 

 I am 62 years old. My mother died almost exactly 15 years ago. . .just a few days before Mother's Day 2001. The older I get, the more I understand and accept about my mother. She wasn't cruel, but she was distant and demanding. With me. She was probably rather damaged by a tough and unforgiving childhood of her own. As the oldest, and without a consistent presence of her father in her life, she had to grow up much too quickly. Having BEEN her mother's favorite child, she never experienced the feeling that her mother wished she had never been born. And, while she never used those words directly, she would tell young women "have your children when you are young... if you wait too long, it's not good for you or them" So the sadness has never really left me. When I found that poem in the box of papers and photos, I realized that she always knew I felt like an outsider-- but she was unable or unwilling to deal with it. I got over the anger years ago, but around Mother's Day all the missed opportunities and misunderstanding, and unasked and unanswered questions still make me sad.

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