Saturday, December 23, 2006

Actions and Consequences....

I got up this morning to find this in my comment box:

She had heard me and I was thankful that we had that moment before she left. My brother and sister agree that she paid the price for all of those terrible years we knew her, she paid in ways that even I think were cruel and unusual punishment.

My mother has also paid in ways that are cruel and unusual punishment.

I don't believe she has ever been loved. Her grandchildren don't contact her. She has a relationship with my brother but he sticks around mainly to pick her pocket and take advantage of her good credit rating. When my grandmother passed in 1988, the family (such as it was) fragmented completely. Everyone scattered. Most people have always kept my mother at arm's length and many just abandoned her completely.

My favorite aunt, her sister, lived near Tucson for years and when I was there, I was able to spend a lot of time with her. I remember arriving from the east coast, stopping by her house where she fed me pork chops, a baked potato with sour cream and green beans. I'll never forget that meal because it was not only delicious but it was something a mother would do. It was something my mother would not have done.

My aunt M. was an interesting person. Fiercely independent, alcoholic, smoked like the proverbial chimney and is one of those rare women of her time who had her own mind, her own opinions and she lived her own life in a quiet kind of way. She loved dogs and books. She lived in jeans and t-shirts. She worked odd jobs, everything from waitress to factory working. She was never wealthy. (Certainly not by my mother's Beverly Hills standards anyway.) Her husband died some years before and she never remarried, had no interest in men whatsoever. When we got together, we would go to thrift stores, hunting down bargains. We would talk about the news and events in our lives from the past. Sometimes we laughed and talked about nothing at all. We cooked together.

Although I didn't get to spend much time with her, I knew that is what most mother/daughter relationships were like and I was able to experience it for that short period of time. We didn't have her long enough. She died from emphysema in 1999. She was 80-something. Even with her problems and idiosynchrasies, she lived a good and fulfilling life.

My mother, on the other hand, has lived a very cold life. My father, her ex-husband, made enough money in the real estate market to keep her in the lifestyle she believed herself entitled to live. She had the trappings ~ but there is no warmth in her life. For whatever reason, she never considered that to be important. She looked down on those who had less than she did materially. I recall a friend I had as a teenager. G.. lived south of Wilshire Blvd (gasp!) and my mother dropped me off one Saturday to spend the day with her. She stood in my friend's parent's livingroom, looking all the while as though she was smelling something rotten, and said, "Oh, (Chani)! These people have nothing," and stopped just short of forbidding me to continue my friendship with G.

My friend G had a loving, caring family. All of them stuck by each other and loved one another. Living with my mother, while the environment might have been pretty, was like living in the refrigerator.

But they had "nothing".

Now my mother has "nothing".

Actions do have consequences. Our values have consequences. For my mother, unfortunately, there will be no last minute reconciliations, no mending of hearts. She will die unloved, just as she lives unloved.

And that is cruel and unusual punishment.




Susan as herself said...

I am so sorry for the lack of a connection and relationsip with your mother. I feel that smething like that is actually more painful than if the person had actually died. I miss my mother every day, and I consider myself lucky to have had almost 25 years of her presence, her love, and her genuine care. It's a valuable thing to carry the rest of your life, and I know how lucky I was to have it. I am glad you got to feel it with your aunt, and who knows, maybe you will feel it again with someone else---anything is possible, as you well know.

Sending you warm thoughts and all good things for the coming year. :)

Pam said...

Chani, my mother has 5 children and she has done such damage that not one of us loves her. I have been estranged from her for 20 years in order to remain emotionally whole. My siblings keep their distance to varying degrees.
It never ceases to amaze me how easily some parents suck the life out of their children without realizing what they will miss in the end.
I am very close to mine, they are my best friends, and I'm off to spend the holiday with them and my family. I'll catch up with your writings on Tuesday.
Peace to you,

Anvilcloud said...

It's so sad; she's missed out on all of the important things. But I guess she doesn't know that and has some measure of satisfaction. My parents were far from perfect, but especially since they passed on I have realized that the were fine.

jen said...

what a painful story. and how painful for your mother. how sad that she chose this life, and sadder still that it's defined her.

especially when choosing otherwise is possible.

your aunt sounds lovely.

Stephen Newton said...

Chani, thanks for stopping by and letting me know that I'm not the only one who has found cemeteries interesting. I, too, used to jot down those final bards engraved on granite for the living to ruminate. I've since lost them, and I can't think of any to share. Regarding our mothers, I can recall a therapy session where I was asked what I wanted most. I said, to have my mother let go of me. I was asked to stand in the middle of the group and one woman volunteered to act the part of my mother. She was asked to extend her arms toward me and I was instructed to place my hands under her elbows. Then the therapist asked me to tell my mother what I wanted. "Let me go," I said. Then the therapist asked me to notice how I was positioned with my hands cupping the surrogate mother's. I immediately realized that I was holding on and when I let me arms fall, so did I let my mother go.

Gobody said...

Mothers are a strange breed ;), you are not alone in your situation. Somehow reflecting on my life I discovered how much my mother had affected me, more than anyone else. Even though I believe that you learn from everything that happens in your life, I still carry grudges against her. Maybe more on my blog, one day!

Ginnie said...

Chani, I pray that you can let it go and find all the love and support you deserve elsewhere. I was exceedingly fortunate to have a wonderful mother but my husband's mother was very cold and materialistic...not necessarily cruel but very intolerant of those without "things". What a sad and unfulfilled lives these women live. At least we can break the cycle!

Thailand Gal said...

Thanks, as always, everyone. You always give me something to think about. :)


Susan, my aunt was a very special person! She was funny, lively, intelligent and free-spirited. I am very grateful for the time I got to spend with her in the last few years of her life.


Pam, I honestly believe they don't realize they are sucking the life out of us. They believe they are doing what's best. It's just that parents, like anyone else, can have really screwed-up thinking.


Anvil, no, I don't think she realizes that .. yet. For her, having the right address and the right external trappings meant she was "okay" and that she would be respected. That is her lesson, though.. not mine.. so I have to remove myself from her sickness.


Jen, she always has the chance to choose differently. She's not dead yet. She very well might before she dies. It's just too hard to call.


Stephen, good idea for your therapist to ritualize it that way. I see value in rituals.. and you can be certain my mother will be on my krathong this year.


Gobody, that is exactly it, I think. They do affect us.. then we spend years getting rid of the effect. LOL ..


Ginnie, I will be fine. I have no doubt of that. My lesson in this is to have compassion for her, even though I disagree with her so strongly and think her values are totally screwed-up. When I step outside my own muck, I can see that she is a pathetically sad woman. Can you imagine looking at your life and knowing the only thing you accomplished was having your precious address in the right city, false respect from others who just want something from you ~ and then in your quiet moments, knowing that no one loves you, just for being you?

That, in my opinion, would be hell. I wish my mother well.. and wish her peace. That's the best I can offer.




Anvilcloud said...

I dropped by to wish you a Merry Christmas and to thank you for being a blogging buddy.

My Heart Runneth Over said...

I am sorry. Having a parent where you don't connect with at all is so very difficult and so very wrong. Life could be so simple if we let it be I think. My Father and I ... well let's just say, we have an interesting realtionship.

(((HUGS))) new friedn and all the best! ~M