Is this grief?

Mum throughout the decades

Thoughts collide with one another in my head. I want to write them out. I don’t know how. I don’t know what they are. I just don’t know.

Is this grief?

Is this what happens after the one who brought you into the world dies?

I wrote to someone this morning that the one thing I didn’t want to do while giving my mother’s eulogy was to cry in front of everyone. I wanted to honour her in ways I couldn’t in real life.

My mother’s relationship and mine was very complex. It wasn’t that we fought. It’s just we couldn’t agree on how to live life in peace.

I wanted to talk everything out. My mother wanted me to just ‘let things go’.

I can’t let go of what I do not understand, I’d tell her. I cannot let go of what is not named.

You just want to make trouble, she’d tell me. Let the past lie in silence.

Growing up I wanted her to be the mother of television shows. You know, the one who had fresh baked cookies waiting for you when you came home from school. The one who gave really good advice even when it related to boys — my mother’s advice tended to extend to practicalities like, ‘keep your legs crossed and definitely don’t let boys touch you…. there’, ‘always wear clean underwear in case you’re in an accident’ and ‘don’t sit on cold concrete. you’ll get hemorrhoids’.

I wanted a martini toting, laughing and giggling, outrageous, belle of the ball kind of mum.

She wanted an obedient, dutiful, listen to me kind of daughter.

I was none of those.

Years ago, when my daughters were about five and six, I knew I had to do something to heal my relationship with my mother. So, after much deliberation, I went to visit my parents to ask my mother to tell me her life story.

She was eager to do so. When we sat down, I turned on my dictaphone (remember those?) and she began to speak. “I was born in Pondicherry, India.” And she began to cry.

My father, not one for tears, kept walking into the room and telling her to stop crying.

I kept offering her kleenex.

She ignored us both and kept telling her story. For two and a half hours.

At the end, I understood better.

It wasn’t that she didn’t love me, or want me to be happy, or want a relationship with me, (which were some of the things I told myself, and my therapist, were the problems in our relationship.) It was just, she wanted the world to be for me like it was for her, or at least as she remembered it, when she was growing up in Pondicherry, India.

She called it her Shangri-la. She had God. Family. Friends and a beautiful way of life.

She wanted the same for me and my siblings. Being the rebel whose nickname growing up was, The Brat, I didn’t want what she had. Especially her faith, which I told her was a patriarchal construct designed to keep men in power and women subservient. (I know. It was the mean feminist in me. The one who didn’t understand way back then the power of words and the need for kindness.)

Without God as my ballast, my mother was terrified for me. Scared that I would get hurt in that great big scary world over which she had no control. Scared I would lose myself, and without surrendering to God’s will, my will would lead me into temptation, trials and tribulations.

It wasn’t until I was working on the powerpoint for her celebration of life and the eulogy that I realized that my mother and I weren’t that different. We might have used different words, but we both want/wanted the same thing. Peace. Love. and Harmony.

Once upon a time I wanted my mother to be the mother I wanted.

I am so grateful she was the mother she was. She taught me the value of kindness and helped me grow into the woman I am today.

My mother believed. Deeply. She believed that God would never forsake her. That God would lead the way.

Because of her deep faith, I always knew I was never alone in this Universe.

Because she never lost faith in God, I learned to never lose faith in myself. I learned that kindness is the ripple that creates a better world, act by act.

And above all, I learned that it’s not words that transform the past and relationships and the world. It’s Love.

 

 

 

 

 

23 thoughts on “Is this grief?”

  1. Louise, I am so deeply touched by your post and how you open
    up, bit by bit, the relationship between you and your mother.
    It is like seeing a beautiful plant coming into bloom.
    The love was always there, just different ways of expressing. How wise
    you were to have that long talk with your mother.

    Miriam

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Miriam. I kind of think the wisdom came in retrospect. At the time, I knew that to create a different relationship with my daughters than I had with my mother the only way to do it was through that relationship and healing my part in it.

      Much gratitude for your beautiful words.

      Like

  2. Girl, when are you going to comes to terms with the fact that you are your own person – creative, funny, sensitive, impulsive, thoughtfulness- all traits that somehow through your relationship with your Mother she managed to instil in you. There is no real “how to” manual on dealing with grief despite bookshelves filled with so-called expert advice. We, each one of us who has or will have a reason to grieve, will do so in our own way. Your Mother’s belief in a higher being was her way of dealing with her world. We all have a “higher being” we look up to as a guide, mentor. We only recognize it as such when a moment in time opens our eyes and our souls. You have just had that ” aha ” moment.
    Fresh mountain air is what you now need!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah yes my friend. Death has a 100% success rate and always in its wake, grief flows.

      A friend of mine recently said that when our mother’s die, we are freed to be our own person — however we want to express ourselves. I really appreciate your words about being my own person. It has been a lifelong struggle — to do it my way/to have my mother’s approval. Now is my time – and yes, she did instill some wonderful qualities in me. Qualities I need to live now in my own way.

      Much, much gratitude my friend.

      PS — off next week for a few days to paint and play in the foothills with U and T — just what the Universe ordered! ❤

      Like

  3. Great piece.

    Great peace …

    None of us get the parents or children, we want – we get the ones we have and while they frustrate us many times, we could not and would not trade them.

    We get the parents and children we need – and we always deserve the ones we get.

    We have many recollections of when we wanted them to act differently or think differently – but we always knew they were ours, and we were theirs, in the beginning and in the end.

    Someone once said, Good grief Charlie Brown!

    Because, of course, grief is good – not easy, but real and that can never be anything but healthy and good.

    Good grief Louise …

    Cheers,

    Mark

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I believe
    – I actually really just simply like that statement all by itself –
    I believe that the all knowing soul chooses their mother.
    The soul knows out of the billions of choices exactly which woman will be the one to ensure that the soul reaches it’s destiny.
    You chose your mother, the same as your children chose you.
    Some days it will feel like a really big responsibility and some days it will feel like an overwhelming honor.
    But regardless of any thing, that soul that chose you already knew you were perfect.

    I also struggle a lot in my relationships with my mother, my children, my grandchildren. I am not what they expect me to be, I am not a superhero, I am full of flaws, I am at my best – still human.
    My mother is exactly, perfectly who I need her to be, as I am exactly, perfectly who my children chose.

    Your mother, you, your children, your grandchildren, I BELIEVE, are by choice
    and I think you will agree it was the best choice

    I also believe that if you look at your children, you can accept that your mother looked at you the same. That she was very often overcome by the wonderful magic, the fierce courage, the everything so freaking glorious that is you, and I hope you laugh out loud

    Also, my brain is going faster than my ability to type, so this may not make sense and may require several edits 💖

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Susan! Thank you. Your comment is perfectly glorious and full of sense, wisdom and laughter and joy.

      My heart dances to your words, my soul breathes deeply of their truth and my entire being resonates in harmony and sympathy.

      My mother was/is exactly who I chose and needed. My daughters are exactly who I need and choose. I am exactly who I am.

      Like you — I am not a superhero but I am superbly heroic in my human manifestation of life, love and loveliness.

      Thank you. Thank you. thank you.

      I am often overcome by it all and so very, very grateful for it all and so very, very deeply BELIEVE it all.

      Much love and gratitude.

      Like

  5. Louise, just read your comment on our blog about Pondicherry. We were so very pleased that your mom got to see Pondicherry one more time, through our eyes and lens. And the fact that the house she had grown up in, was in one of the photos.. that just blew us away. Of course, we would be honored for you to use any of the photos for the slideshow for the celebrating of life occasion.

    Whether you are a believer or not, as your mom was, the synchronicity of your sister showing the photos to your mom, does suggest some larger forces at play.

    On the subject of your mother being who she was, as the mother you might have hoped or wished for, it suffices to consider the streets of Pondicherry, the aura of days gone by and the grand life she must have had growing up. To understand that she too was the product of her environment of course. She could no sooner be tossing martinis in a carefree way than you could walk the path of a young girl growing up in Pondi. Different place, different time, different life outlooks.

    Peta & Ben

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Peta and Ben. Such a wise comment — and so true. The gifts of my mother were many, the greatest was her teaching us to be kind, to be generous, to be faithful — it is her faith that awed me the most.

      And yes, it was amazing (and there definitely were greater forces at work) for her to see Pondi and her home. I did use that photo in the slide presentation — thank you – growing up, our home was always filled with strangers. My father welcomed everyone in and took them under his wing. My mother made everyone feel like family. It feels fitting that, at the end, two strangers are woven into her story. Such beautiful symmetry.

      Much gratitude to you both.

      Louise

      Like

  6. It’s definitely your grief, remembering your dear mum the good and not so good times… all part of you now❤️ We can celebrate being human, being vulnerable loving each other and when we part we feel the separation even when we sense we are never truly separate. Consciousness is a truly wonderful exploration and in my own dads passing I sense him so much more❤️ I don’t believe the vulnerable feeling we feel ever goes, our loved ones are part of us forever here and beyond. The human misses the physical contact. When I miss my dad I talk to him, ask him questions and he certainly answers!
    I prefer not to attach labels to my feelings… especially when I read grief means deep sorrow and sadness… Instead I just love deeply and move through life the best I can❤️ Much love x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. (Fixed it) 🙂

      I love your words and way of living and loving in this space — in particular “I prefer not to attach labels to my feelings… especially when I read grief means deep sorrow and sadness… Instead I just love deeply and move through life the best I can.”

      Beautiful.

      I don’t feel a lot of deep sorrow, there is sadness but it is a deeper ‘sadness’ than my mother’s passing, one which I gently and lovingly have allowed myself to flow through whenever it surfaces so that it will flow free.

      thank you Barbara. Much love and gratitude.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Dale — the sad part of that story is I went on to lose my dictaphone and the tape in a taxicab in NYC! I am still grateful I did record her though — or at least took the time to have her tell me her story. My mother suffered from severe depression most of her life — and that became so clear through that conversation.

      Liked by 1 person

Real conversations begin with your comments. Please share your thoughts.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.