By Caitlin Kelly
Sorry, but this isn’t the place for flowers and candies and sentiment today.
Millions of people aren’t hugging Mom or making her dinner or staring sadly at her photo, mourning someone who is long dead.
For many people, the word mother is more a descriptive noun than a nurturing verb.
I wrote about this last year, prompting two followers here to reveal some of their more challenging maternal histories as well; both, not surprisingly, have become friends off-line as a result.
No one wants to admit publicly they did not get along with their mother, unless it’s a tell-all-fuck-you memoir like Sean Wilsey’s — whose stepmom threatened to sue him if he went ahead and published. (He did.)
My mother lives in a nursing home now, in a Canadian city a seven-hour flight from me. We haven’t spoken since May 2010 and I am not sure if or when we will, or when or if I’ll see her again. She has some dementia, how much is unclear.
Our relationship is much complicated by a woman who purports to be a dear friend of hers, who visits her daily and has been both determined and efficient at shutting me out and making sure my mother thinks the very worst of me. Lawyers and others have told me this is not uncommon between people of vastly differing wealth and in a family where estrangement between child(ren) and parent exists and and can be further exploited.
Describing this dispassionately here does not mitigate the incredibly deep hurt I feel, the impotent rage I bear toward this woman and her family or the shrugged-shoulder response of my mother’s few remaining friends and relatives, some as burned out as I by decades of my mother’s assorted issues.
I really miss the best of my mother — her laugh, her intelligence, her wit, her charm, her beauty, her range of interests. In earlier, healthier years she was an actress, model, TV host, journalist, broadcaster and lay chaplain helping hospice patients, pretty amazing to me since she had already survived multiple cancers herself.
She traveled the world alone for years on end. She settled, for a while, in unlikely places, like the Mexican desert or Roswell, NM, Bath, England and Lima, Peru. I saw the world when she’d send me a plane ticket to meet her.
We had some serious adventures together:
– sleeping with our arms and feet entwined on a freezing cold overnight train through the Andes of Peru
– snorkeling for blue starfish in Fiji
– playing endless games of Scrabble in Costa Rica
– driving through the mountains and valleys of Mexico in a camper van, Judy Collins’ eight-track of Wildflowers playing
– the fantastic birthday parties with cakes with sparklers she threw for me, one with little girls who came all the way to Montreal from Toronto for my 12th.
– laughing our asses off at almost anything
– comparing notes on the latest issue of Vanity Fair
I hate not having a mother any more, even if she is alive.
So, enjoy the day for me, and for her.