Passing Away


“This time of year, my mother’s birthday, I am always so sad.” She choked up and dabbed at the tears again. “My momma died ten years ago but I still just can’t get over it. We were so close.”

I handed her another box of tissues as she continued crying.

It was a strange mixture of emotions I felt sitting there watching her sob away. I hurt for her and yet at the same time I felt an odd guilt and jealousy that stuck in my throat and filled my mouth with bitterness.

How do people do that, get close to their parents? What would that feel like?

It has been six months since I have last seen her, my mother, despite the fact that we live less than 50 miles away. She hates to talk on the phone so I don’t ever call her. We play Words With Friends every day so there’s that, but I am not even following her on Facebook since I am not on Facebook in the first place.

I wonder how I will feel after she dies?

My mother and I are such different people. It strikes me that I can get along with a wide variety of individuals, mainly because I can give them the benefit of the doubt, open my heart, allow forgiveness. I can do that for a stranger, for someone I have never even met, but I cannot do that for my own mother.


Why do we judge our family, the people we love, so much more harshly than we judge the rest of the world? 

At this point, I don’t hate my mother. I don’t even dislike her. I simply don’t understand her. Allowing myself to try to understand her hurts too much. I have to take what I have believed about my own childhood and accept that maybe there is another side to things. Understanding her side may invalidate what I have come to believe about myself and about her and that prospect frightens me, as if it would be taking away part of who I am. 

Which then begs the question, who am I anyway and why does any of it matter to me in the first place?

Sometimes it feels even now as if I am a toddler on the verge of throwing tantrum, clinging to their crumbling binkie-blankie because they don’t want to let go of their childhood. 

It is all I know.

I want to ask her why she married my father. I want to ask her why she stayed with him even through his terrible emotional abuse. Did she love him? Does she love him now? Is she proud of me? But I am afraid of the answers. 

Maybe it is none of my business? 

Maybe I just want it to be none of my business? 

So I don’t ask….


122 thoughts on “Passing Away

  1. For everyone who ever had a childhood we just can’t shake, for everyone for whom it made no sense, there will always be questions. If the answers were our business, I reckon we’d have them already. Instead we consciously parent and go to therapy. Might not be a bad trade.

    Liked by 10 people

  2. You can’t force closeness, especially if there are barriers (not liking the phone, for example). All you can do is be kind when in contact. Because now it is how you act, and the example you show your kids, that matters. Cause you can’t change the past.

    Liked by 6 people

  3. Big, big questions Victo. I was never close to my parents either. My Mum and I haven’t spoken for three years. My Dad has passed away. I really don’t think. for me, that any attempt to better understand would prove fruitful. My Mother attacks me verbally every time we meet. I have told her how her words hurt and although she understands she does not ever change – I spent decades trying to change that and it never changes, To salvage what self respect I have, I had to stop trying.

    Best of luck and I hope it is different for you.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. I am not as close to my Mum as I’d like emotionally, though I have tried to be a ‘good daughter’ and did what I could when I could regardless of where we lived. I try to see her once a month, despite it being a horrible journey and the reception we may get, but I do write every week without fail even though I know they will never be answered.
    As for my MIL, I could never understand her or her attitude and finally realised that her idea of being a parent was far different and lacking compared to what I had experienced as a child.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I hear you. My mum died 2 yrs ago and I was left with a lot of unfinished business. I think maybe we all are in one way or another, and it occurs to me, we are all still children, seeking parental approval until our parents are no longer there. Joey nailed it with conscious parenting and that’s what I’m trying to do too, although that’s not to say my mother didn’t. I’m reminded of the Philip Larkin poem you know the one:

    Liked by 4 people

    • If something were to ever happen to my mother or my father, I expect she (or he) would come to live with me. I would relish the opportunity, actually, not for underhanded paybacks or to try to win affection or kudos, but because I think it would be the only way to have an opportunity to understand them.

      Liked by 3 people

    • My mother was a poet–sensitive, creative, highly intelligent, but also emotional and reactive about a lot of things. I was an only girl with three brothers–and supposed to be just like her but wasn’t. Need I say more?

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I can relate. My mom has been gone for years and sometimes I regret not asking similar questions, but now I’m glad I didn’t. Experience tells me I wouldn’t have gotten the answers I wanted. But I was lucky enough to have other “moms” who loved me unconditionally.

    Any normal mother would be over the moon about your accomplishments. Just keep on doing what you’re doing and realize she may never come around. That doesn’t diminish your self-worth one iota.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I asked the questions… I even got some answers, that triggered even more questions. It didn’t help much; what did help (me, not her) was verbalizing all my anger, frustration and resentment and even if she didn’t understand much and she agreed with even less, at least I made her listen…

    Liked by 4 people

  8. I agree with you about strangers versus family. No one fights like family. I think there are control issues going on with some family members. I was much closer to my father than my mother. But he avoided interfering with my life, or criticizing. He was supportive. But my mother is quite a bit the other way.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. We all seem to have those issues with our parents that only time can resolve to some degree. There are those expectations that we assume our parents have for us and we inflict them upon ourselves. My mother has been gone for many years and I think with that time I have gained a lot of understanding of where she was coming from. I still feel close to her.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Just putting in my two cents… I didn’t have the emotional maturity to have ‘that’ conversation with my mother before she died, but I sincerely encourage you to try. Even if you just write the questions in a letter, you may be surprised at the response. You are no longer a child nor does she have control over your life. Her words cannot diminish you without your consent. Once she is gone those questions may haunt you. Perhaps you’ll learn a lot about yourself as well as your mother, that may in turn help you with your own kids. Love, accept, and let go of the past, start to build your happier future today.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Parents are not perfect. Children do not come with an instruction book and even when you have six children each one will have a different personality. They will all react differently, which is normal.
    My parents were not perfect and made mistakes and we were considered poor. I tend to remember the good times, the hugs and kisses the home cooked meals and I will always remember that I always felt loved. Even though we did get beatings when we deserved them.

    Their marriage was not perfect and they fought verbally. I did have five siblings so possibly that is why I was able to think that was normal.
    I did ask questions and I did get some answers but they had nothing to do with us children.

    The one thing I learned later on in life was to apologize to my child or children when I found out that I was wrong about something. I let them know that parents can make mistakes at times. I also let them voice their opinion on subjects and if they gave me a valid reason we compromised. The one thing we did that they remembered best is we never backed down on a punishment. We also let them know the rules and that they had a choice to follow the rules or not. If they chose not they knew what the consequence would be, and they knew we would never back down on the consequence.
    Later on in life they said that the thought of the consequence stopped them many times from doing something foolish.

    I discovered that at a certain age all children hate their parents, but, as they get older and start having a family they come back to us and we are better than slice bread. :o)

    Keep on chugging Mama’s because there is a pot of gold at the end of that rainbow. :o)))))

    Liked by 4 people

  12. I felt like I was reading about my own relationship with my mother. I have a lot of resentment towards my mother dated back to early childhood and I know I need to let it go…I’ve started therapy…she’s referring me to a psychiatrist where I will tell a complete stranger, once again, things I should be telling my mother.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I must be the odd woman out…I loved my mom and dad and they loved me….there were nine kids and they loved all of us. My dad passed away 5 years ago and I miss him terribly…we all do. The greatest gift you can give a child is love and show them how to love as a couple…

    Liked by 2 people

  14. My mother never resolved her problems with her own mother, and we had huge problems getting along, continuing the thread. Only after she got Alzheimer’s did I start to understand and forgive. I wish I had done it sooner. But was that possible? I don’t know.
    My own daughters? I really don’t know how they view me. The older one and I fought constantly when she lived at home, but now that she has her own place we get along much better. The younger one is much more forgiving, but also less forthcoming.
    I’m not sure there’s an answer here. We do our best. (K)

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I fell out with my mum for a number of years. We never stopped loving each other, we just couldn’t get past the hurt. She struggled to cope with my telling her, and the police, I’d been abused outside the family.
    In the end a line was drawn, by both of us, without either saying we had drawn it. We have reconnected and I’d consider us now very close. Funny it was after we decided to move on and ignore the past, that we were able to discuss it and deal with it.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. I remember exactly where I was when my father told me “I know we made a lot of mistakes as parents, but we did the best we knew”. I was in my 20’s, it changed the nature of our relationship, and we became more like friends as adults. My mother died young, I wish I had the opportunity to have an adult conversation now. I understood her much better after becoming a parent. πŸ’•

    Liked by 1 person

  17. So many live without the answers, never knowing the truth. My heart so goes out to you for I understand your heart. I myself have a relationship with my own mother yet still I don’t know her. I’ve gotten to a place I can understand some from out of my own life experiences and for th he rest I really try to just accept her for who she is. Not easy not to know how we will feel after our mothers are gone. May you find peace somehow. ❀

    Liked by 2 people

  18. I’m certainly not an expert…. I wonder if it matters to you because you are now in the other position. The mom position. You want that with your kids. You seem involved and emotionally vested in your children. Maybe there’s some fear that you are like her? Even if you know you are not, there’s that fear of ….maybe? Perhaps you see it and it makes complete sense to see people connected to their child/parent. And that makes sense. You know what you have with your mom doesn’t make sense. And by golly, you have a right to ask yourself these questions and contemplate and wonder. You know you missed out on something. And I think it’s okay for that to bother you.

    Liked by 3 people

  19. I totally understand not knowing what it feels like to be close to my parents. It’s very foreign to me and weird feeling when someone says they are. I’ve been estranged from them for 7-8 years now. The abuse is just to extreme to allow them in my life. I won’t be sad when they die, I will be sad that there will no longer be the possibility of change.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. The dynamic between children and their parents, especially mothers and daughters, is not easily explained or understood.
    We are always harder on those we expect more from and who more than a mother.
    A few paragraphs can’t possible explain all that encompasses your relationship with your mom. I don’t know if you’ll find some understanding or answers before it’s no longer possible but the rest of your life is a long time to wonder.
    You’ll do what you feel is best. Good luck.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Personally I think you should ask….you may be surprised at the answers….I lost my mom to dementia years before she passed…..I miss her everyday….you owe it to yourself to seek the answers before they you are unable to ask…..kat

    Liked by 1 person

      • Just wanted to remind you, it really is over when they are gone…we lost my oldest sister suddenly in a freak accident at home, her trachea collapsed from coughing….she was the eldest with all the memories and knowledge…we had talked about writing a book between the 3 of us, but just never got around to it…..we find ourselves saying out loud more often than not when asked about something that happened in our family years ago, that knowledge went to the grave….

        Liked by 1 person

  22. Wow- that’s a tough one.

    My mother verbally abused me when she became manic. Unfortunately, she wasn’t dx’d as bipolar or medicated until I was almost out of high school. All I can say is feel how you feel and TRUST it. It’s ok to have whatever relationship you do. It took my mother no longer being alive for me to finally really dig in and begin healing. In three and a half years, I’ve come light years. I sometimes envy people who had close loving relationships with their mothers; but it wasn’t my experience. We had our moments- and they were just that, good moments- mostly after I was grown and gone. I can’t imagine it being ten years past my mother’s death, and still not have processed the grief.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I have a fair number of patients who mark these anniversaries with overwhelming grief for years and years. It may be a cultural thing to some extent. I am so glad you have been able to find some peace with your own relationship, though. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  23. All I can say is that whatever issues exist between parent and child, try to resolve them before they die, because once they’re gone, it’s amplified tenfold. I had a difficult relationship with my father, and in retrospect, certainly would like a do-over. But that train has left the station.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Having recently lost my mom, I’ll tell you it’s complicated. Sometimes I think I was raised by wolves, like a feral child, but the loss still hurts. She loved me unconditionally, but there was a distance. I think she made it first and then I kept it going. It hurts to love someone when you don’t even like yourself. That was my mom. Maybe it’s yours?

    Liked by 1 person

  25. I wondered the same thing then my father passed away in may. I cried a little, but mostly it feels like a distant relative passed away. I think I was more upset that I would never be able to get answers to question I had. Then I realized even if he was still alive he wouldn’t answer my questions anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Is it mean that I want to say…screw your mother!!!? Is it mean that I feel like you deserve a mother that chooses to have kept you away from someone who emotionally abused her and you witnessed/ Is it mean that I want to tell her to make an effort with YOU. SHE is your mother and you shouldn’t have to even wonder any whys. You should know because she should have told you how proud she is of you. I can understand why you don’t want to ask questions because you don’t know what the answers would be but you should know if she cherished you like she should. OK totally just my ranting, angry opinion at the fact that I think you are putting something on yourself that your mother should have already fixed in the first place! Sent to you in love but protection for your own heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. When your parents, siblings or family somehow hurt you it hits you directly. There is no obstacle you usually have for a stranger. It is somehow (culture!) assumed you trust these people blindly until something happens that makes you cautious.

    Even when I have forgiven my parents and family there is now a wall between them and me. The wall stays as long as I want it to stay. They are banned, simple as that.

    A life without traitors is a better life…

    Liked by 1 person

  28. My mother died when I was 23 y.o. We had just begun a adult relationship and seemed to be getting along. But it is her voice I still hear in my head criticizing me and belittling me. I have tried to reconcile the fact it was what she knew and how she was raised, but it is hard. My father however, made a statement to me prior to one of his serious operations. He said he had no regrets and thought he had lived an honorable life. It is amazing what memory booze will wipe out. I was stuck taking care of him for many years and felt no remorse when he passed. Parents are just people who need to earn our love and respect. Anyone can give birth to children, but it takes special love and kindness to be a good mommy and daddy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I find that my parents don’t remember a lot of the hurtful things they have done either. And not from alcohol. For my father, a large part of that is probably dementia but I really believe humans rewrite our memories to make it easier for us to live with ourselves. It is involuntary. Our brains just do it for us.


  29. In short, everything here is exactly the how I feel. I listened to my co-worker talk about how close she is,with her adult daughter and I felt anger I will never have that with my mother. We tolerate each other, although I don’t think she admits it.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. I watched a very forgettable movie once (Hope Floats) that had an unforgettable line in it that may apply here: “Childhood is what you spend the rest of your life trying to get over.” 😐

    My mom is quirky and challenging to be around sometimes, but when I remember these things about her, I soften:
    1. She’s a person and people are perfectly imperfect.
    2. Very few of us intend to ruin each others days.
    3. None of us know the full backstory, even if we think we do, so forgiveness (or at least kindness) is a good default position.

    But that’s me. It’s okay not to like your family. You didn’t choose them. You don’t have to like them! πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

  31. I used to think that my mom and I were close until I was abused by an adult family member that she protected when she should have protected me, I was in my teens. After that, for a long time, I didn’t feel the same about her. Then, just as I was feeling close to her, she let me down again when my first child was born and I needed her. Eventually, I got over that hurt for a few years then I had to have a hysterectomy and I needed her to help with the 3 kids. I was a single mom and it was summer so all my PTA friends were gone. She didn’t even call after my surgery to see if I was still alive. But that was years ago and now I have come to the realization that there is nothing I can do to change the past but there is still some future left for us. THAT I can change.

    Liked by 1 person

      • I’m close to her now, at least emotionally. I haven’t been able to visit with her in about a year because of the distance between us. But I think that I am emotionally closer because of her illness and the reality of death staring her in the face. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013 and had a mastectomy then chemo then a second mastectomy in 2014. She was 81 and 82 for those surgeries, chemo, and radiation. It left her physically and emotionally drained. So I know we won’t have her much longer.

        Liked by 1 person

  32. I have to admit that I was very close to my parents. We even got closer as they got older and there are days when I wish that I could talk to my mother or listen to my dad. For a man with very little education, he was a fountain of wisdom.
    Shalom aleichem,

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Hmmm. You do realize that you are a smart, tough, voluntary and successful person? Right? πŸ™‚
    But I understand the interrogations. Especially about one’s mother. I was lucky not to have major issues with my parents. At least not with my mother, we were very close and similar. My father was another cup of tea. His only love was for my mother. All the rest, including us children were mere accessories. Fine by me. I took care of both as they grew old an ill. Still have a grudge with my father, but it’s all right. I have forgiven. Piece of advice? You don’t chose your parents. Do what you can with your mother. What you feel like. The rest is irrelevant. You have made your analysis a long time ago. Bury the past. “Dr Sigmund Brian”

    Liked by 1 person

  34. I knew, even as a young child, that my mother was an unhappy person. She loved babies and toddlers, but once we got past that stage there was no love, hugs, praise or anything to indicate that we five children were any more than burdens that kept her tied to my father, whom she hated at that point. It seemed normal enough to me; I didn’t feel love for her either.

    In the last days of her life (she was dying of breast cancer) she apologized to me for not being a good mother. I think she saw how my sister and I were raising our kids. I knew she had a hard-scrabble childhood and a family that squabbled constantly. My response to her was that she did the best she knew how. Maybe she did. I did not cry when she died. I don’t miss her. It is behind me now.

    Sometimes, I do feel bad when I hear someone go on about how much they love their parents, or how much they miss them. I wish I had that.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. What a subject! Obviously hits so many of us in the eye, or the head, or always, the heart. I never had ‘issues’ with my mom growing up, because she had no idea who I was, nor I’m sure, did she realize I felt less because she was ‘more’: more vibrant, more attractive (in my mind, she was tiny and adorable, I was gawky and large), more fun, more social. When I escaped ‘family’ to become myself in college, I made a huge discovery – I liked myself, I liked my body and my looks, and I liked my intellectualism and solitude. That was the end of any meaningful relationship with my mom – we got along but I didn’t miss her nor spend much time with her. But then I became a parent and she became a grandmother. She was a wonderful grandmom to my kids, and I appreciated her for that, even though I didn’t particularly like her. Thus the dilemma. My kids love her! Even though she became difficult to be with every minute. Now she has dementia, and I want to be a role model of a daughter, so my kids don’t think less of me. Plus, I still love her, despite the fact that I don’t — love her. Ah, FAMILY!

    Liked by 1 person

  36. I feel for you. Having issues with my own other, I understand a little of where you are coming from. It is usually never a matter of love between parent and child but all those other emotions: understanding, esteem, regard, respect. Both parenthood and childhood are hard and even though often times we fall under those labels, it doesn’t mean we fill those roles to the best of our ability or we may not even have the tools to try. All we can do is try to bridge the gap one small conversation at a time, but even taking that first step can feel like stepping off of the grand canyon. I hope that one day things between you improve; I hope the same for myself, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  37. Having lost my dad when I was 23 and my mom when I was 52, I have admit that I was initially hit by remorse in more or less equal measure both times. But the nature of the remorse was clearly different in each case. In my dad’s case–he was totally blind and walked with the aid of a red-tipped cane–I felt the guilt of being ashamed to be seen with him whenever we walked along streets together where my schoolmates lived. And with hindsight I imagined ways I could have been with him at the end if i hadn’t let work get in the way.

    My mother had been living with me for 5 months before she died, and I was at her side when she did. But I still felt sting of having embarrassed her strongly as a teenager and then not spending more time with her in the years before she moved in.

    I believe my story, though sad, was not unusual. Death is the ultimate cut-off. Opportunities have all gone for do-overs, and we all can identify enough personal do-overs to bring on the remorse.

    Part of grieving is dealing with the remorse, and that means getting to the point where we can say we did as well as could have been expected of us under our unique circumstances. Each of us can get there, some sooner, some later. If we reflect honestly and feel any pain we have caused, we cleanse ourselves as we go and become capable of moving on as life demands of us.

    Liked by 1 person

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