I know there are women out there who have had/have close relationships with their mothers. I look to Seester and her daughter to see this happening. I know it exists.

I did not have that with my Mom and I know many women who experienced the same thing.

We fought. We rarely agreed. I challenged her life choices—unintentionally—by never intending to get married, have kids, and be a housewife. I remember as a teen wanting a dog and a beach and to write. I don’t recall striving for much else.

It’s no wonder she and I rarely saw eye to eye.

Mom would deliberately push my buttons and to be honest, I pushed hers back.

Dad did what he could to control the two of us, but I wonder how many times he mentally threw his hands up in the air and physically went to the garage to get away from our bickering. Even when I was a grownup.

Then she got sick.

Let me clarify. Mom had been sick off and on for some years. She had Grave’s Disease that she didn’t manage properly; had heart disease that she fixed with pills instead of diet; was on oxygen for asthma and took other things for other reasons.

Stubborn, I always think that if we eat right and exercise, don’t smoke, and don’t drink (too much) red wine that maybe we can retain our health. I know this isn’t true—disease will strike where it will strike— and yet I think, hey—I’m gonna’ give my body a fighting chance.

Mom did these wrong things, got sick and I got…well, pissed at her for getting sick. Not a fair attitude, I know. I’m not proud of it, just telling you the truth.

The spring Dad was diagnosed with ALS, Mom was diagnosed with lung cancer. The spot, she said, was tiny. She started treatment, but by August was worn down.

My niece came to visit. The next morning, Mom wasn’t quite with us.

The family descended in and out and in and out. The same as Mom was for the next ten days.

God gave our family those days for multiple reasons.

He gave those days to Mom and me so that we could heal our relationship before she went to be with Him.

And heal we did.

August 27th is the 7th anniversary of losing Mom. I miss the little minx. I miss the person I got to know at the end of her life. When Mom’s many guards were down and she was at her most basic, I fell in love with a woman who was kind, gracious, witty, tender, and who needed us.

Who needed me.

My presence, so aggravating to her throughout her life, was a balm to her during her ending days. And I clung to her during the dark nights in a way I could never have done during our usual lives.

If only we could get ourselves down to these most basic selves now, right now.

How would our relationships changes?

How would they deepen and become more whole for us?

If right now, today, with that spouse, parent, sibling, other relative…friend…if you could be your most honest self with them, what would it do for your life?

“If only,” are such difficult words. They can imply regret or fear or restriction.

But if only Mom and I had each been honest with each other for the 49 years of my life we were together, how would have changed things for us? What if we’d had one good rip-roaring argument that bared our emotions and got the accumulated chaff between us out in the air? How would things have changed?

Is there a relationship in your life that you’re in that you think…If only I could have one honest conversation with…

And what keeps you from having it?

Marian Jo (Houghton) Griffith, 1934-2008

Marian Jo (Houghton) Griffith, 1934-2008