Saturday, February 24

Photo hunters - soft


Soft. It’s not exactly the word I would use to describe my mother or my relationship with her. We have never been very close, but it hasn’t been a particularly strained relationship either. I’ve often felt that she lacks some fundamental “mumsiness”, and as a result we’ve always been quite detached with each other. She told me once that when I decided to move to Canada at the age of 19 she had to make a choice, either worry herself sick every day, or switch off and let me go. And she switched off. Although I’m certain she did that long before then. I have often felt disappointed in her disinterest in my life and there have been long periods when I have been very angry with her for that.

But as she ages I have found myself softening towards her. I have been able to let go of expectations and instead started accepting her for who she is. She grew up in what was East Germany during the war, and I’m sure her experiences from that time go a fair way towards explaining her detachment. The stories she tells, with flourish and phenomenal attention to detail, are both spell-binding and horrifying, and we made a silent agreement some years ago to remain in that era, rather than talk about us and now. And as we moved onto safer ground, our relationship improved tremendously.

The real turning point probably came when she had to have hip replacement surgery a few years ago. Thanks to a very understanding boss I was able to go back to Sweden and spend 10 days with her following her operation, and helping out around the house, making sure she did her exercises brought us much closer. And when she was diagnosed with kidney cancer last spring, I was again able to go back, this time for three weeks.

After stubbornly refusing to think of her as anything other than my mother all my life, here I found myself face to face with her ill and ageing body and it didn’t scare me. In fact I welcomed the role reversal and it felt right that I should now look after her. It also felt important to acknowledge and accept that both she and my father are by now quite old. Thankfully my mother made a complete recovery and although we will never have an open relationship, I treasure the mutual understanding and appreciation that has developed in recent years.

My mother turns 79 today. Happy birthday mamma.

In the photograph my mother is in her early fifties, I remember how much I loved that fur coat she’s wearing. I loved its softness and how it smelled.


19 comments:

Patti said...

Funny how relationships shape our lives. Your story is inspiring.

Daisy said...

What a great story. Thanks for sharing! And I hope yer mother has a very happy birthday today!

Lacithecat said...

Oh that is lovely! And I totally understand your relationship. My mother is an ex-hippy, party girl who refuses to grow old. I was supposedly an old soul from day one and extremely independant. Funny my friends think my mother's comments about me not be a 'fun' girl are hurtful and I just see it calling it as it is. 'Fun' is what she values ... and although I like fun stuff - somehow I think our definitions aren't quite the same


We have in the last few years found mutual respect. We will never be close, but we can value each other. I am so happy to come to this point. Sounds similar to your story

Cathy said...

A posting from the heart - and so beautifully written. Thank you for sharing.

Linda said...

Thank you for sharing the journey of your relationship with your mother. Why is is that mothers and daughters seem to have so much trouble connecting sometimes until they are both older?

I think it's fantastic that despite your mother's detachment when you moved to Canada that you still went back to help her out at the times that she needed you the most and that you didn't detach from her. I'm sure that your relationship will continue to evolve in the coming years.

Thank you for your visit to my page earlier and now you've got me wondering about this Monoi lotion you mentioned!

meeyauw said...

Your story with your mother is so familiar. It's an important story to share and I thank you.

Expat Traveler said...

now how ironic because that picture is a mirror of my grandmother but her coat was in black! It was so soft and wonderful so I can agree... But wonderful story..

paris parfait said...

Your relationship with your mom sounds similar to mine with my own mother. I'm glad your relationship has improved and you're able to enjoy your time together. A really lovely post!

eph2810 said...

Some times we have to forget the past and move forward. I know it is a healing process, but well worth it. Thank you for sharing.

Great take on this week's theme of soft.

Have a great weekend.

srp said...

Happy Birthday to your mom... my dad turned 79 the day after Valentine's Day. It is hard to have the roles reversed, especially when you are still raising your own child and it is almost time to let them take their fledgling flights away from home base. Lovely story and great picture.

Jane said...

What a beautiful story. Happy birthday to your mom.

pat said...

Thanks for sharing your story about your relationship with your mother. I am glad that you have been able to reach a point of "closeness" with her.

Have a good weekend!

Bearette24 said...

She sounds like an intelligent and honest person.

My mom switched off a bit too when I moved from Massachusetts to New York (not that far in terms of distance, but my family is very close knit). However, I still feel pretty close to her, as we are very much alike ;)

Edvard Moonke said...

well, it would seem that despite not being very 'mumsy', she seems to have done a fine job of bringing you up to be the lovely person you are. :-)

Hootin'Anni said...

First, I'm choking up with the photo below...M. Bolton...love his singing.

Now that I have that off my chest....hehehehehe

Sorry to hear about the distancing between mother and daughter. It's a very difficult part of life. Your blog entry for this week is very very touching...and I hope that someday the relationship can succeed. And your choice for the use of the word 'soft' is great!!!!

My SOFT is added! Hope to see you visit.

superkimbo said...

Wow, what an amazing story. Having lived in Germany for five years, I have quite a few friends that have similar family situations. I think growing up in East Germany had to make her tough, right?

Incog & Nito said...

Relationships are always interesting. I always think life is too short and that you chose to 'mend' your relationship shows the kind of person you are. Good for you. Happy weekend.

Caro said...

It's hard to reconcile who our mothers really are with who we want them to be.

I have come to a grudging acceptance of some of my Mom's oddities. There are some things she does that are lovely motherly things, but there are many things she does that drive me stark, raving mad!

To steal a quote, "It it's not one thing, it's your mother."

Dragonheart said...

Thank you for sharing your story with us. I'm sure your mother's experiences in Germany during the war shaped her in ways she can't even begin to explain. Happy Birthday to your mom.

Thanks for visiting.