What About Mothers and Deep Conversations?

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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


17 Responses

  1. Tammy
    | Reply

    I have a great friendship with my mom. We talk and argue like friends do. It is sometimes hard to not cross the mother/daughter line with that friendship.
    My sister and mom are two very different people, though. They have always either fought or maintained a safe distance to keep the issues at bay. They have opened up, thank goodness in recent years. They will never have the relationship Mom and I have. It isn’t favoritism, though, as I have thought before that makes Mom get along with me better than my sister.
    People are different. As long as we respect and love our family members, I think that is what God wants. Not everyone will have that close relationship with their immediate family members do. Those of us who do, just have an added bonus.
    I’m sorry that I’m just now getting to read this beautiful story!

    • Rose Mary Griffith
      | Reply

      You and your mom would be Seester and our mom. I would be your sister. Yes, that really makes sense to me. It’s just personalities and is what it is. None of us should feel badly about that.

      Thanks for reading it, TJA!

  2. Susan cooper
    | Reply

    Hi Rose, it is to bad it took until your mother’s illness and end of her life to work out your issues. But I am very happy that you did finally get that time to heal your relationship and get to know her before it was too late.

    • Rose Mary Griffith
      | Reply

      Yes, what could our relationship have been like? But that’s a “what if” which makes for a good novel, but not so much in real life. I’m just happy we had the healing time. Yeah to that!

  3. lenie5860
    | Reply

    I am so glad your relationship with your mom ended on a positive note. No regrets – just be thankful that you did have that sharing and healing time.
    I always had a good relationship with my mom which was strengthened even more when I was sixteen and I took a year off to stay home with her. That was a time to be treasured and I am still thankful I did that.
    Thanks for sharing this special post.

    • Rose Mary Griffith
      | Reply

      It sounds like a story in there for you being with your Mom for a year, Lenie. She must have been a very special lady. You’re right, no regrets. We were who we were. Just glad things turned around as they did. I thank God for that.

  4. Phoenicia
    | Reply

    I have a similar relationship with my mother. Perhaps we are too alike but I struggle to accept this.

    We do not know how long we have on this earth and we should live each day as if it is our last. We should be quick to say sorry (and mean it) and be willing to back down to save an argument.

    I am learning that people will never be who we think they ought to be. However painful it may be, we must move on.

    • Rose Mary Griffith
      | Reply

      You are so right about that, Phoenicia. Maybe you will have a chance to change your relationship with your Mother–it’s so hard. We are alike or we’re super different and that meeting place can be difficult to find for sure.

  5. Debbie Clark Ludwig
    | Reply

    I lost my mother that very same year to lung cancer also. She aggravated me like no one else could but I miss her so very much. I long to hear one of those endless stories that I had heard so many times It made crazy. She pushed my buttons but no one in the world loved me quite the way she did. She saw all of her children with loving kind eyes. I only wish that I was the person that I was in my mothers eyes. I will forever miss her presence in my life.

    • Rose Mary Griffith
      | Reply

      Debbie, I’m not sure “glad” is an appropriate word, but I’m glad to hear that you had that same kind of relationship with your mom–it’s nice to know I was not alone in sometimes wanting to biff her a good one and other times hugging her like there was no one else on the planet!

      I am SURE that you are that person–we are too hard on ourselves!

  6. Doreen Pendgracs
    | Reply

    Hi Rose. I lost my mother when I was very young, and I have no children of my own, so that category of relationship is out for me. But I do recall getting close to my father in the final stage of his life, and I was very grateful that he had mellowed enough to allow and enable that to happen.

    • Rose Mary Griffith
      | Reply

      I’m sorry to hear that, Doreen. I am very close to my niece and nephew, but like you I know that’s not the same as being The Mom. Another friend mentioned the mellowing of her dad that allowed them to get close in his later years. I always wonder if we could just let our guards down now and mellow now…what would happen. It is good that you had that time with your Dad!

  7. Jenny Bear
    | Reply

    I miss her so much. This was so nice to read. I love you.

    • Rose Mary Griffith
      | Reply

      Dear niece, you are one of two people–Dad being the other–who actually “managed” mom. I think she loved you and your brother so fiercely that she always wanted you around and always wanted your…let’s say approval. She knew that you loved her.

  8. Rose Mary Griffith
    | Reply

    We really are sisters, eh Jacquie? I am glad that you, too, had the opportunity for knowing your mom in an entirely different light. It changed everything!

  9. jacquiegum
    | Reply

    Rose this is a beautiful and touching post. So remarkable in it’s honesty. I had a similar relationship with m y mom. ee rarely got along, but in the end I cared for her in my home for three moths and she passed there. I wouldn’t trade those months for anything. Somehow, it all got put right.

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