By: Christine Fishel
As my siblings and I watch the mental deterioration of our mom, we see more and more of the woman she is changing into. I call her my Other Mother. She is sweet and complimentary, but also timid and unsure. She is really nothing like our mom.
Dear Other Mother,
I want to thank you for all the nice things you’ve done for me. Thank you for telling me I am special to you. Thank you for telling me you love me very much. Thank you for asking me for advice and help. You are a loving mother, and I’m grateful to know you. Even though we’ve not known each other long, I feel like I can talk to you about the ways my heart hurts.
For example—and I sincerely hope it doesn’t hurt your feelings to hear this—I miss my mom. Once in a while, I see a glimmer of her in your face. Like that time at the doctor’s office when you disagreed with me and told me so straight out. Most of the time, though, you ask for advice and listen and tell me you agree with everything I say. You seem to want to please me, to please all of us.
I have a favor to ask you. If you connect with my mom during some moment when I’m not around, will you tell her something for me? Will you tell her I’m sorry?
I was not an easy child. I wanted to fit in and be accepted by her, but I could never take things at face value. I think God created me as a questioner, a pusher, never happy with status quo. It made my mom crazy.
One of the best gifts my mom ever gave me is a book of handwritten stories about her life. I had given her the blank book with probing questions during my early twenties, and when I turned 45 she returned it, completed in her own increasingly shaky hand.
As I read her history, my heart breaks for the tragedy she endured during her adolescence, the mothering she sorely needed and didn’t get. I can understand her better knowing these things about her. I can understand why she wasn’t the touchy-feely mom I craved, why she didn’t have time to think and talk. She was a survivor, a no-nonsense doer.
Those who know me best know I learned these precious skills from her.
You don’t need to tell her all of that. Just tell her I wish things had been easier for her. Tell her I miss her. Tell her I love her.