Monday, April 13, 2015


My mother, with her husband.
Today, my husband and I  are heading out on the road to visit my mother, who is still in hospital with congestive heart failure. We learned that she'd had a "silent" heart attack about four weeks ago. Recovery will be slow.

I'm going there with a lot of mixed feelings. There has been a rift between my mother and me for the past twenty years. You can read more about the sad story behind that estrangement here.

But a funny thing has happened to me in the past two years. Steve and I took the Family Connections course that helped us understand a loved one who was going through tumultuous times as she struggled with Borderline Personality Disorder, and some of the things we learned there helped me understand not just my mother, but our relationship.

One of the things the course talked about was "poor fit." It's a neutral term that simply acknowledges that, sometimes, parent and child just don't get along. They have sensitive spots relative to each other, they are prone to misunderstandings, their temperaments clash.

It's neither one's fault (though each can do things to make it better); no one is to blame.

Me, my mother, her husband. Looking at the photo book I prepared for her 85th birthday.
I had long ago forgiven my mother, understanding that there was a lamentable cascade of events in her life that led to her choice. What I had been unable to do was to be vulnerable to having a relationship with her.

This may be my last chance. She is dying, not to put too fine a point on it. She's 87 years old with inoperable heart failure. They can give medications that will make her comfortable and help her eke out a little more time, but we are in the end game now.

So I'm heading down today to embrace her, baggage and all.

To thank her for rocking me in the wee hours of the night when I had whooping cough, for helping me out of last-minute homework scrapes, for standing up for me. For being my mother.

P.S. Here is a link to the photo book we gave Mom on her 85th birthday.

Click here to view this photo book larger (which I recommend you do).

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