Mothers and Daughters

Every mother-daughter relationship is unique. Complex. Some of these relationships evolve over time, if there is enough time to evolve.

My mom in Bermuda, around 1938

I looked up to her, then I didn’t. I resented that she was so strict – my friends’ moms seemed so much cooler. More permissive, certainly. By the time I got to college, I distanced myself – I could do what I wanted without her constantly looking over my shoulder. I was free to screw up as much as I wanted.

My parents on their wedding day, 1955

I asked if I could spend my junior year at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland. It was a program offered by my college, and many of my friends, all of us liberal arts majors, were going. Surprisingly, my parents said okay, and off I went.

On the day after Easter that year, my father died of a massive heart attack. My mother was a widow at 50. Three daughters – my older sister just out of college, me overseas and unreachable, and my younger sister still in high school. A widow at 50. Her parents were still alive. She had two brothers, but they both had their own issues. She was forced into doing all the things her husband had always done. Lawyers, accountants. Who will mow the lawn, service the car, pay the bills?

Mom around 1987, age 58

She learned to live on her own. Eventually her daughters moved out, she moved to a condo, and loved quilting. Her membership in the Narragansett Bay Quilters’ Association gave her purpose in her newly-single life. But she missed Jack every day.

Mom doing what she loved

It was around 20 years ago that my sisters and I noticed some changes in her behavior. She had no recollection of an event that we had participated in just a couple of years earlier. My sisters and I finally got her to agree to a test, and the diagnosis was fronto-temporal dementia. How cruel! This brilliant woman, who did crossword puzzles in pen, who taught me to love language and words, who majored in mathematics at Pembroke, was slowly losing her memory and cognitive abilities. I’m grateful that we, and my husband and brother-in-law, were able to surround her with love as she passed.

I think one of the reasons our relationship was a challenge (before I grew up and it wasn’t) was that we were more alike than either of us could admit. As she became more childlike with her disease, it fell to her daughters to be the caregivers, to mother the mother. We did, all three of us. We are Joyce’s girls, always.

24 thoughts on “Mothers and Daughters

  1. Hi. I am stopping by on the a to z trip. I loved this memory of youur Mom. I read you a ,d,e,r and z entiries from the challenge. I would eat a if offered by it from a mongolian. I would definitely eat d, would not eat e nor r and would probably eat z.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lovely, Martha. I too had a difficult relationship with my Mom. She was also strict and very Catholic. I knew none of that was more me. It got a little better when I left home but I don’t know if she ever really understood me. But I know she loved me and I loved her. I just wasn’t as close to her as my two sisters and my brother. She struggled with Alzheimer’s for 5 years. It got really bad at the end. There was a fire at my parent’s condo at the Narragansett Village. It really pushed my mother’s Alzheimer’s over the edge. My Dad was by her side the whole way.

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  3. What a Beautiful Tribute you have written for your mama. ❤ Have a Beautiful Mother's Day! God Bless you and your sisters for being your mama's caregivers, my siblings and I were our mom's caregivers, we all took turns helping out. It was Our turn to take care of our Mama for everything she ever did for us. God Bless our mama's who are in heaven now. Stay safe and take care. Thank you so much for sharing your Beautiful tribute for your mom.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Enjoyed your post. Especially the pictures. Your mom reminds me of my mom. Tough but deep down loving. Happy Mother’s Day to us as we remember our moms.

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for sharing this beautiful story . ❤️
    Mother & daughter relationship can be very challenging , independence and branching out can be difficult one for many Mothers . Mothers love never leaves her heart .
    God bless
    Love you Martha

    Liked by 2 people

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