Mothering and Life in General
The Link Between My Mother and Hers
My mother’s mother, the person who would normally be called my Grandma, has been gone for a few years. I could not tell you for how long, nor do I care to count.
As you can tell I don’t think very highly of this woman, there is no other feelings but estrangement when her ‘stories’ come up. I never had a relationship with her growing up, and she never knew my name.
This woman, my ‘Grandmother’, lived in a totally different province and only came by every 4-5 years. She would bring up her trusty Scope, and everyone in the family would have to hide the booze away. I knew alcoholism before I knew the word.
When I was younger I thought this woman had been really keeping up with her oral health. Man did she ever smell like Scope. It was not until I was older that I put two and two together, by reading the percentage of alcohol on the bottle.
I remember this woman, drunker than skunk, calling on my birthday – during my birthday party. My mother got all in a hype and flipped out for the rest of my family and friends to see. I remember Mom crying and saying her mother needed to get out and come back home.
Needless to say my party was over, and I was sent off with my sister to go play in our room, while Mom sat crying in the livingroom. It was then that I never liked this woman, and I felt uncomfortable for her to have my pictures and updates on my life.
My mother’s, mother lived one Province away, hardly called, unless she was drunk and being beaten from her ‘spouse’. When she did come, she came with mindless gifts for ages way younger than what we were and she called me by my male cousin’s name. You can see how that won my heart over.
She did not even know which one of her daughter’s child I came from, most often times, she did not even know that I was a part of her dysfunctional blood line. The last time she came by, I was in my teens and I started to sharpen my tongue. I don’t feel bad for telling her, “My Grandmother is dead” as I walked outside. How dare she think that I have to drop my life to have ‘family time’ with a ‘member’ who did not deserve my time.
Of course that ended with a ‘talking too’ about respecting my elders and that I should not judge her, bla bla bla bla. Respect is earned not given, and I could not hold this woman up, in or even around the same class as my Gramms. Just was not going to happen – nope.
In my early 20’s I received a call from my mother. The woman wanted to come home. She was asking for the family members to help pitch in for her and her things to travel back home. What a bunch of hisses that was.
This is how I saw it. A woman, who did not care whether I was dead or alive, wanted me to give a few bucks that I worked hard for and earned. So she could spend on a plane/train/truck to bring her back ‘home’. A place she left on her own free will. AND she did not even know my name yet! Yeah, my money was going elsewhere, thank you very much.
In my eyes this woman helped to break my mother, and I resented her for the life that I had. I could never look at her with respect, I could not even respect her for any mother role. I knew she had issues, but to turn your child away after you find out your husband had his way with your daughters? It does not fly with me sorry.
I felt it to be a slap in the face when she asked us Grandchildren to fork out some costs to help her out, when she never did anything, she wasn’t even in our lives! It felt fake to ignore my own mother’s pain from her past and befriend this tormented soul.
It was not until I found out the real reason this woman wanted to come home is when I got really angry with her. She came home to die. So not only did we not deserve to be in her life and get to know, we had to get caught up with the mixed feelings of ‘she’s our grandmother, yet we don’t like her and now she’s dying – so we have to be nice’.
I don’t care what my, now religious, mother says. There are just some things you can’t forgive in the way my mother asks for. I could not ‘befriend’ her and ‘forgive’ her for her misdoings. My families forgiveness is forgetting, or putting a blind eye to it, ignoring it totally like it never happened. I just don’t work that way. You also can’t ask me to make the first step at a connection when all my memories are that of pain and unneeded craziness from her behalf.
So I am not the bigger person, and you know what? The only thing I resent is the fact I really did not tell her what I really felt about her and her fakeness. She would say she loved me? Really? What’s my name then and which one out of your daughters did I come from? Tell me what you love about me. Love is not a word that you just say, it is supposed to have meaning and feelings behind it.
When it came time when she died, everyone was in a state of shock. It was hard to hear stories of a person I never knew. When people would say how good she was and how giving, I could not see beyond my own experiences. This person they spoke about was not the woman who showed her face at her every-five-years-visit. I just wanted to borrow someone’s pocket to puke in it.
I was left with more hate, then I had before. I wanted to respect her death, go to the viewing and get on with my life. But then the others stated all these stories about how I missed out, by not at least trying to have some form of relationship with her. Let the past be the past and move forward in life. To me my mother’s past effected me and my sister’s future. It was a vicious web of lies and deceit, that I could not be apart of any longer.
I had to be firm and clear that my feelings were not this way, and I did not, for one minute, feel sorry for her. Nor do I feel bad about the time I supposedly lost with her. How about the time she lost with me, or is that question too selfish?
I still had to work through my own issues, and my own mother’s, plus deal with faking my way through this ‘travesty’. My mother would call me heartless, and deny my feelings because, in our family you don’t speak ill of the dead. So I told my mother to not ever bring her up, because I have nothing good to say.
For some reason, I have yet to figure out, my mother has this need to tell me that I was being too hard on this woman. I guess it’s easier to be hard on someone you don’t really know. It might have been different, had the past had been too. I felt that being civil to her while she was in my home, was much more than she deserved.
I write these thoughts out because every mother gives a promise to their child when they first hold them, that goes beyond I love you and I will keep you safe. My promise was ‘I will never make you feel the same way I have felt all these years’. This promise I will die keeping.
I see how my mother is similar to her own mother. There are differences, like my mom is not an alcoholic, lives in the same city as us, but the similarities are many. Especially being in a physically abusive relationship wit hsomeone with a substance abuse. I know how I felt unworthy of my ‘Grandmother’s’ hopes, affection or time. I know how the pain dwells to create resentment, and I know how this can affect so many aspects of life.
As much as I hate the plain fact that my daughter will not have a healthy relationship with my mother. I detest it even more that K2 will only create an understanding of my mother’s actions like I did. When a child does not understand fully, they internalize it. They reflect it as something wrong with them. They can only come up with a solution that they can deal with and comprehend. Like a child blaming themselves for a divorce.
I don’t see any other way to end this confusion and showing K2 that she is worthy, that it’s others that may not be worthwhile. I can’t understand how anyone would choose to have the same relationship that I had with my mother’s mother.
I would walk or crawl too and from, just to see a glimpse of K2’s smile, to hear her words come directly from her own mouth, see how she has become a beautiful Pre-schooler and to watch her play. She deserves that and she is worth the time and effort. This is not because she is my child, but because she is the greatest gift I have ever seen grow. K2 deserves to know nothing less.
The end is now, the boundaries are high. She chose the life she lives, and I have tried to help her out of it. She keeps going back, I can’t do anymore. Is she in or is she out? It’s been awhile since her last contact, in which she blamed me for everything, so I will take it as she is not ready to have another miracle in her life.
Goodbye Mother. You’ve had 3.5 years to make your claim, and you’ve only choosen 3 times a year to fit the role. Don’t let the door hit you on your way out. In other words stay gone.