I think of my mother often, and wish she was still alive for me to tell her some things. Each year as Mother’s Day approaches, I am sad, wishing I had more time with my mother. She died in 1998. When she was alive, I wasn’t mature enough to look past her weaknesses to appreciate her strengths. Now that is no longer the case, but it is too late. Perhaps this will encourage those who still have the time to say the things they want to say or need to say to their mothers to not wait. And maybe my mother will somehow know of this love letter I am writing to her.
I would first of all thank my mother for giving me life, when it had to be very hard for her to do so. She was only 17 when I was born, and she was not married when she became pregnant with me. I am convinced that she married a man she had dated only to make my birth legitimate. They did not stay married very long. My mother never told me he was not my biological father, but his mother told me when I was no more than 13, sweet Christian woman that she was! And he, my legal father but not my biological father, told me himself after my mother died, stating she had asked him to not tell me, and he honored her wishes as long as she was alive. (He also told me who my mother said was my biological father.) When he told me, he said he thought it was my right to know, and I agreed with him. I had suspected, and had asked my mother several times, but she denied it, deciding to go to her grave with that secret. I can only surmise her reasons. Many women in my mother’s situation would have had an abortion, although doing so wasn’t as easy in 1951. My mother chose life for me. Please don’t read this as any condemnation to anyone who made or makes a different decision. But I am glad that my mother made the decision to give me life. Hopefully my thoughts about this are understandable. My mother chose life for me. Regardless of her other choices, in that decision she put me first.
If I had the chance, I would tell my mother that I love her. I did say those words once or twice not long before she died, but not often enough, and I did not show it in action enough. My mother never told me that she loved me when I was a child. Nor did she show me in most ways. She physically and emotionally abused me. I was able to resolve all of that in therapy in my early 30’s, and came to the belief that if my mother could have done better, she would have. That is true for all of us on some level. She had a very hard life growing up, and her way of coping with her demons was tragic for me in many ways. I did not have a normal or happy childhood. While I am not excusing the abuse, I forgave my mother for that many years ago. Had I not, I may not have been able to move past it.
I am grateful that I had love from other relatives and friends, and saw love in action in many ways. I believe we have to feel loved to give love, and I wonder if my mother ever felt truly loved unconditionally. She made bad choices with men, and suffered a lot because of that. I remember many years as an adult trying to select her an appropriate Mother’s Day or birthday card, and couldn’t because I was focused on telling the truth, and most of the cards were not true of my mother. How I wish now I had bought her the cards with the most gushing words so she would feel my love! Why could I not be the one to show her unconditional love? She made some choices for me to make sure that I received love and caring from others, even if she wasn’t able to give those to me. As an adult with more love, stability, and education than my mother had, why could I not get past myself and show her those?
And finally, I would apologize to my mother for not being there when she needed me the most. The last time she was hospitalized before she died she called me and told me she was on her way to the hospital, and asked me to come. It was a three-and-a-half-hour drive for me. When she called I was working on a business proposal and decided to finish it before I left. I was not concerned about doing so because I was relieved that she would be in the hospital and cared for. I did not know that she was a sick as she was, or I would have gone immediately. Regardless, she had asked me to come right away, and I believe she knew it was serious. I made work more of a priority than her, and lived to regret that decision. By the time I arrived at the hospital later that day she was almost in a coma, and we had no quality time left. She had reached out to me, and I had failed her. She died a few days later. I am left with the regret that I did not show mother love when she needed it the most.
It is too late for me to tell and show my mother these things. But if you are reading this, it is not too late for you. And, it doesn’t have to be your mother.
If there is anyone who needs to hear and see that you are grateful for who they are in your life, tell and show them now. It can be too late if you wait. Show your gratitude now.
Who in your life needs to hear the words, “I love you,” and who needs to see your love in action? Do it now.
Are there any apologies you need to make to someone? Do it now, before it is too late. And when you apologize, make it sincere. Do not explain or defend why you did what you did; just apologize.
Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers and all who have “mothered” others. Mothering is the highest of callings. Those of us who are fortunate enough to be mothers, and those who mother others without having gone through the labor, need to know they are appreciated for the many ways they enrich the lives of others.
Mothers, enjoy your day. You Rock!
Patti, even though I know your story, to read it brought tears to my eyes. I cannot begin to understand your pain, but through it, you speak a loud message to those who need to hear! Thanks for being real! Happy Mother’s Day, my friend!
Thanks so much, dear friend. I write from my heart and head. This is clearly from my heart. Happy Mother’s Day to you, as you soon enter the wonderful world of grandmothering!