Every night before someone sleeps I hope they read something that makes a difference; it may help them rest or act or just be; whatever it is; it has made a difference. This makes a difference to me:
My dying mother
As I opened up the gift, my Mum gave to me, I forgot why she gave it to me and I focused on opening the flaps and pulling the contents out. It was not until I was an adult, thirty years later, that I found myself saying to a friend, who felt bad regarding a situation with her young daughter: “Never buy a sorry gift; just say sorry.” I think now that is why I could never think the gift was her sorry because it hurt too much.
I grew up Sydney’s western suburbs and my childhood wasn’t bad. In terms of acts of service I was quite fortunate; my sheets were changed every Saturday, my meals were nutritious and I never went without.
My Mother formed an emotionally strong bond with my Brother from about age 8 (he was one year older than me) and this bond I called favouritism as a child, but I now realise it was due to my Mother’s low self-esteem and self-worth. She would tell my Brother adult type issues and about her problems. My Brother was also mixed up and enjoyed having people fight around him. Mum and Dad would fight about him all of the time.
I was hardly ever cuddled or held, but I did have a kiss goodnight from my parents. I was the odd one out and I often felt alone and the only time my parents were truly united was when they were unhappy with me.
My Mother grew up without a father and in country NSW. Her Mother was a beautiful soul, but she also suffered from low self-esteem.
She was always miserable at home and I am not sure why. Her life was fine. Her relationships with people were not fine and she struggled expressing herself and opening up at all. It was like she was so hurt and abused emotionally that she could never risk being hurt again. She would speak in a nasty tone frequently and looked and sounded as cold as the iciest ice, most of the time.
My Mother started part-time work when I started school. She always seemed happy at work. I never understood it, but I now believe this was just her choice. At the surface level she definitely did it to hurt us, but deep down it was truly hurting her. I think she loved to think we noticed her happiness at work and this was not because she was nasty, but maybe because it was her way of trying to signal for help.
When I was 21, I had finished study and I travelled overseas for a year. This year was 1996. This year Mum finally left my Dad; after many years of telling others she would. My Mum said she finally left because my Brother was on her side. That same year, Mum and my Brother had words and have never spoken since.
My Mum has good qualities and underneath all of the hurt and bitterness she is a soft, kind and gentle woman. She is dying of lung cancer and only has a short time to live. She has never told me how long she has left. I found out through friends; not because my Mother has found it hard to tell me, but because she is not speaking to me. She has said I wasn’t considerate enough when she was first diagnosed with cancer. Her believing this has been enough for her to no longer want to have contact with me.
My Mother is really dying now, but has been dying inside her whole life.