Derf Assist List > Mom passing away

I check Derfwad Manor every couple of days because sometimes I just want to touch base. Mrs. G is busy with her studies and I'm procrastinating on things I need to do, so I just thought I'd start a new thread here because I need to get some things off my chest.

My 82 yo Mom passed away about 6 weeks ago and it has hit me in so many different and conflicting ways. Our relationship was always hard: because she was pregnant w me, she had a nice, but quickly planned wedding, not the painstakingly 1950's perfect event she dreamed of. Sadly, I weighed 10 lb. at birth, which made it difficult to pass me off as a baby who came early. While she did all the proper things a mom is supposed to do, I never did the things she wanted and expected me to do--be popular, have pretty hair, gossip and giggle with her, have lots of boyfriends in high school, be the prom queen. Instead, I think I might have been the inspiration for Janice Ian's "At Seventeen". She saw no value in making things yourself, something I have loved my entire life, and saw handmade goods as poor and inferior, no matter the skill involved. I did pick a husband she approved of and I suspect she liked him more than she liked me--she told me as a teen that the primary things to look for in a husband were, in order: 1. not likely to become an alcoholic, 2. a good provider, 3. easy to cook for. My husband is all of those things, so score one for me.

I've been cleaning out her apartment and finding so many things from the past that she kept that keep triggering memories and raising unanswerable questions. She kept copious notes and lists, and I've found a few that say things about me that are very hurtful. I am dreaming about my childhood and thinking about things I haven't thought of in years. My siblings are completely overwhelmed in their work lives right now and don't have time to talk about these things. In one way, I feel freed from her underlying disappointment in me (I read once that a man never really become fully a man until his father dies--is this true for women/moms too?). On the other hand, I find myself thinking "I need to call Mom and tell her about this" and then remember I can't. I'm kind of pissed about her half-truths and then struck by the letters of her friends who cared deeply for her.

Are all mother/daughter relationships this complicated? I only have sons, and our relationship is much more direct with far fewer subtleties.

September 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

Hi Anna - I am sorry for your loss. My mother passed away on 8/22 after an 18 month decline, so I feel your pain and all the emotions you are going through. Yes, I believe many mother/daughter relationships are complicated, and I come from a very close-knit family. Still, we were not all treated the same and it makes for some difficult situations between the siblings. I have also found things in my mother's house that have brought up hurtful feelings. I just remind myself that parents are people too and are not perfect. My mother raised six of us on a very tight budget. I know she did the best she could and I know that she did have regrets as she neared the end of her life. I didn't realize how difficult it would be to take care of things to finalize someone's life. She is gone, but it really isn't over yet as there is still so much to do. It's difficult. I am looking forward to the end and moving on with my life now. I hope that things get better for you soon.

September 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDorrie

Your post has made me realize that my 91 year old mother is likely to have a few unwanted surprises in her house awaiting me upon her death, given her lifelong track record. Her sons could do no wrong, and her two daughters could do no right, and it has taken me a lifetime (57 years!) to bring myself to the understanding that I could not change her cruel, manipulative and abusive behaviors but I could change the way I reacted to them. It did not occur to me, until I read your post, that she could continue to cause hurt to me after she dies. Forewarned is forearmed and I thank you for that, even though that was not your intention in writing. I think when my mother finally dies, I will cry for what I wish could have been and was not. It would be horrible to experience flashbacks to my childhood when I have worked so hard to get past those years. That must be very difficult for you, Anna, and I hope this part of your grieving passes quickly.
When I became a mother to my sons, I chose every day to do things differently than I was raised, and I am thankful for that. In the end, we all make choices and experience their consequences. Our mothers likely saw themselves very differently than we did and could probably justify all their behaviours in their own minds. I am sorry for your troubles, and I wish that you had a close sibling or dear friend who could help you sort through all the emotional turmoil of losing your mother. I think many of us frequently check "The Manor" posts, so please continue to reach out if you need to vent. This community of caring women (and Gary!) is the safest place I know to visit when needing some advice or just a listening ear. There is a lot of shared wisdom and compassion here!

September 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEllie

My mom has been dead almost fifteen years, once December 23rd rolls around. My mom: trying to outdo baby Jesus. Just like her. When I almost died and was in the hospital for weeks after that car cut off my foot, she got stigmata. Really. She was a bitch, a wonderful bitch. It was never easy but always fun. At one point (and I'm probably repeating most of this but so be it) I'd made new friends who were all the right sort - good, nice, respectful. Mom said something nasty about one of them and I said at least my friends weren't bitches. She replied, "Well, my friends may be bitches but they're interesting." I went back to my old friends. I want her back, I still miss her, and my dad, the Teddy Bear. I grew up on a bouncy path, so much so that anything else is too similar to a hospital flatline. I only wish those whose moms hurt you had learned to throw the love out as much as the pain. Hope you can find some of those good memories as you go.

October 3, 2014 | Unregistered Commenternaomid.

It is Mother Issues Week!

I flew my mother to visit me. 8 days is toooo long. She has been gone a week now, but I still feel fatigued and drained.

Years of borderline mental illness and massive opiates (prescribed pain medication) have damaged her thinking and behavior. She is irrational, mean, critical, and really doesn't make much sense.

She couldn't get up the energy to take a car ride downtown to have lunch and see a few sites, but tried to tell me she should stain my fence, because it was obvious I wasn't going to get around to it anytime soon.

It's a strange thing to see someone in a state where they are a shade of their former self. It's hard to process to realize that I never had that much of a mother, and what is left is beyond reasoning with. I'm angry at the abuse and terrible decisions she made that affected me and my siblings, but I'm also disappointing that it's now past the point of possibility to have the parents or family I imagined. Which is a short trip to self pity and loneliness.

But the visit made me so grateful for the strength I found to be a Mom, and the job I have done with my daughter.

All in all, these mom/daughter relationships are difficult, laced with memory and expectation. I'm taking all the above advice and perspectives to heart.

October 6, 2014 | Unregistered Commentermolly

Thank you all for your thoughtful responses to letter about my mom. I've found kernels of truth in each of them that have helped me sort through all my feelings about my Mom's death. Mother-daughter relationships are complicated for so many of us, especially when our mothers were not able to be the mothers we needed and wanted. After I became a mother, I found I had so much more forgiveness for my mother, who like me, was doing the best she could with what she knew and could handle at the time.

Still, she drove me absolutely nuts most of the time.

Dealing with the aftermath--the financial aspects of the estate (unbelievable amounts of paper to keep straight) and with her belongings is taking an enormous amount of time. I'm grateful for the perspective it has given me, though. I am trying to be far more conscious of making choices of what belongings I want to keep in my life so that my kids don't have so much of my stuff to deal with when I go. I'm making sure not to leave anything that could be an emotional bomb to my kids--no journals, no lists, notes, etc. that could be misunderstood. My husband and I are simplifying our financial stuff so they don't have to spend hours figuring things out. All good. I just have to remember to do this when the immediacy of dealing with Mom's stuff isn't there to remind me anymore.

I am trying to stay honest as I think about Mom and not recast her in my memory. Trying to find some truth when it is easier to remake her now that she is just a memory.

Thanks to you all. This is such a common journey for women our age.

October 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

Oh, Anna! Your post has brought out responses that I hope make you feel less alone.
My mom died almost 3-1/2 years ago and the hurtful things done in the past along with the things discovered after her passing did not make it easier. I suspect that my siblings are forever scarred in their hearts and minds. One of the things discovered about 3 years ago helped me to understand her a little better. I just wish she had not tried to be perfect in the eyes of everyone else and had criticized a great deal less. I've tried to do better with my own children and it is a process of letting go of the past.
Hugs to you.

October 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKaren (formerly kcinnova)

And yes, for quite a few months I kept thinking I should call mom.

October 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKaren (formerly kcinnova)