Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day

My relationship with my Mom has been filled with conflict. Some of which is about her, some about me and much about things neither of us could control. I've tended to focus on the conflict. But there's something about being a witness to a person ageing that pierces a narrative.
Physically Mom is in great shape. At 87 she is on no medications. None. Her only physical issues are joint related. She's had both hips replaced, one hip twice and one knee. She should have the other knee replaced but it doesn't hurt and she doesn't want to have more surgery. Mentally she is slowing down. She is an extremely intelligent woman and she is frustrated when she can't remember things or take in information. I'm always watching for signs of deterioration. Always worried about what might go wrong.
I think about it when my almost two year year old neighbor visits. Watching her brain suck up information is great fun. It's not just the rote ability to hear and repeat. It's the dots that connect and her expression of her growing awareness. Such delight!
It's not as simple as the circle of life thing. Childhood is also filled with frustration. And Mom is happy she lived when she lived. She is a person of her era. As am I. Which is part of the problem.
I wrote a piece about Mom once. I tried to contain and frame the conflict and draw out the complexity of our story. She didn't like it. She likes simple, happy stories. She wants a Hallmark world. I do everything I can to give her that world even though it is painfully limiting. We can't live together but we are wound together in ways that are both neurotic and endearing. It's just not simple.
I used to think unconditional love was about letting go of every hurt. Forgiving every injury. Now I think it's about being able to hold both the pain and the love. To be able to see people clearly. All the bad faith and all the effort to be more. We are all fumbling along, bumping into one another. Wounding and wounded. Forgiving and in need of forgiveness.
Well, actually, sometimes it is simple. Sometimes it's about surprising her with cinnamon rolls and taking as much pleasure in the way her eyes light up as she takes in every bite. Sometimes it's about making her laugh.
Today we are on opposite coasts. She is having brunch with friends. She has the card I sent on the table. There are chocolate frogs on the way.
She is my mommy.
The narrative is pierced.
The conflict lays down with the affection.
We are dancing on the field of the lord.

Mom at sixteen.