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A Letter From My Mom: Another Found Artifact

June 14, 2013

The excavation of my former life continues in my apartment. I’ve been throwing stuff away. One garbage bag at a time, I’m letting go of the past, changing my hoarding habits and clearing space in my tiny heaven. I try to go through my things with a clinical detachment. Keep this. Throw away this. But of course it’s hard. The carefully crafted love letters, cards from friends, notes of love from the man I thought was my life.

Last night I came across a letter from my Mom. Typed in all caps, a habit I broke her of after long debates. In the letter she was apologizing for something mean she had said. “I made my grown daughter cry and I’m not proud of that,” she wrote. She also included money, calling it a bribe. I remember the night she was referring to. I was with the kids at my brother’s house. She and Dad were in town for a visit and I joined them. I was running after my son in the front yard. I think I had asked her for money to buy the kids some clothes. She was in a bad mood. I could see that my brother’s wife (ex-wife, now) was upsetting her. The house was a wreck. The bathroom was filthy. There was nothing to eat. It’s difficult to visit your son and see this other woman’s world when it’s so far from what you think it should be. 

I knew that she was annoyed so we had gone out in the front yard for air. I was trying to distract her by telling her stories. I told her how I had taken all of our dirty laundry to a Laundromat with the kids and we spent the afternoon washing and folding clothes. “If you that much clothes, why do you need to buy new stuff,” she had asked. Mom could be so judgmental at times. She had a harsh sarcastic wit, that she passed on to me and I passed on to my kids. When I told her about a movie my husband and I had just seen she again lashed back with a verdict. “If you can afford to see a movie, why do you need money?”

I think that’s when I started to cry.

What I know now, what I couldn’t have known then is that those comments weren’t about me. She was stressed. She was disappointed in her son and her daughter-in-law. Who knows what might have been going on between her and Dad. Who knows what other pressures she might have been under. Maybe it was the worst possible time for me to ask her for money.

And of course, she couldn’t know what my life movie looked like at that moment. I was probably about 26 years old. I had two kids, one of which took all of my attention to keep alive. My mom had five children. She used to watch me run after my son with wonder. None of her kids took that much energy to parent. I was a fragile, exhausted young woman doing the best I could. And she was doing her best. And because she was the remarkable woman she was…….she recognized what she had done and did what so few people have the courage to do. She said she was sorry and told me she loved me.

If she were alive I would have called her when I found that letter. We would’ve laughed about it. Maybe cried a little. I probably would have turned it into a sarcastic joke….”You never bribe me anymore, Mom.” By the end of her of life we had both changed into very different women. I wish I could talk to her now. I wish she could see who I am now. I wish I could know the woman she would have become by now. I wish I could tell her, “It’s OK Mom. I know that wasn’t about me. I’ve never doubted your love and acceptance. Your love taught me how to love. It still does every day.” I just wish I could talk to her.

I miss her.



From → Rantings

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