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Happy Birthday, Mom

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Today is my Mom's birthday, the second one I've had to 'celebrate' without her. She would have been 86. The last time I physically saw her was the day after her birthday ( the soonest I could fly out ), 2 years ago. I'll never forget walking into the rehab. center, my heart pounding in my ears, to find her strapped into her Broda Chair, asleep in the dining room, awaiting her lunch. I hadn't seen her in a few years and she'd lost so much weight...but it was still MY Mom. I gently woke her up, as I hadn't told her I was coming in. She drearily opened her eyes....then they went round as saucers. She broke out in the widest smile...oh, that smile I loved so much and knew so well! I felt like I was really home! She said my name, over and over. We started crying softly together as I gave her a big yet careful hug and kissed her soft cheek, as I tried to assess how she looked through my tears. Was she going to be fairly lucid today? Would our short time together go well, or would I be continually crying inside for this new reality that my dear Mom was stuck in? She only had the use of her right arm now and so used that one to dab her eyes with the Kleenex I handed her. I wanted to sob deeply, but didn't want her to know how upsetting this all was, seeing my own Mother so frail, so fragile, immobile and helpless, robbed of her fierce, trademark independance, her home, her former life....OUR former life. She kept repeating my name, smiling widely. I noticed the slight downward curve of the left side of her mouth, thankfully mostly hidden when she smiled. This new reality was shattering my heart! She wouldn't have had that downward curve had the first doctor in the hospital not overdosed her on that dangerous blood thinner! A nurse, or an aid ( who could tell around here? no one wore job description tags. ) came by and here was Mom, happily telling her I was her daughter, come to see her!

She did that the entire first day, for everyone who came into her room. I felt so loved, but also like s***. I'd last been in 2.5 months ago, when she was really out of it ( after the overdose and subsequent internal hemorrhage that they couldn't operate for ), and we still didn't have any income coming in. We'd planned this trip anyway, just hoping we wouldn't run out of funds for the basics to live. I didn't want to ever have to leave, but my husband had to go to work on Monday and someone had to take care of our also-ill furbaby. Oh, it wasn't fair! Two days was all I'd have, to try to make up for a whole lifetime of regrets.

I took her for rides around the complex, outside, bundled all up ( though it was sunny and mild ) for a stroll and a smoke ( she'd been forced to go without for 6 months as no one thought to take her out of her room, ever. ) I'd brought a special balloon bouquet that facinated her and a radio...again, no other family member brought her anything normal to ease the boredom. I can't even speak of the negative parts of my visit, because they still hurt like hell. I hugged her and kissed her as much as I could. Took pictures, of her, of her and me, sent her copies once I was back home. Made sure the nurses knew to tack them up for her when they arrived, as neither my father nor brother ever did these things for her. Wheeled her down to watch a Leslie Nielson movie, attempted to play some piano for her, my heart dying inside because she no longer showed any enthusiasm for my ( rusty ) playing...another shock. No one but my Mom had ever been more thrilled to hear me play, especially waltzes. My father ruined half of our visit, as usual. My brother wasn't much better at the time. The other brother still didn't come in, to see either of us, though he lived less than 5 mins. away. I did everything I possibly could,( never enough in my mind ), trying to balance doing and just BEING with her. When there was only about an hour or so left, she asked me to lie down next to her in bed. There was hardly any room, but I did anyway. I held her as close as possible without hurting her stroke arm, kissed her some more, tried to talk to her about past secrets I now knew about but she'd never discussed with me. She told me, "Just forget about it!!" So I'd get no closure on that. I was now the mother, rocking and comforting my mother-child as she lay so ill next to me. She expected me to be staying the night, maybe even believing I'd now be living with her again at 'home', as she confusedly sometimes thought of this place. The rest of the time she wanted to go HOME, her real home. It was one of the most precious times I'd ever had with her, as she'd normally been so very busy with work, we'd hardly ever both lay down at the same time. My ride was waiting. I had to leave, leave my Mother for what I knew might be the last time ever, because she could go any time, and who knew when?

When the night RN ( who'd been so kind to us this wknd.) said goodnight, I collapsed on the floor, the tears no longer controllable, choking off my breath. She took me into the nurses' coffee room, held me like my Mom no longer could, wanted me to stay for awhile, but I couldn't. Told me how she'd been watching us the whole day, that she saw how awful my family was and how it's often the daughter who cares the most..happened in her family, too, so "I KNOW..." Thank God for that nurse, Mary, the name of my Mom's closest sister. There'd been a LOT of that in her 6 months of illness here and in hospital. Names, both first and last, of her immediate family members...uncanny, time after time. It had always appeared to me to be a sign that they were patiently waiting for her on the Other Side.

Thank God, too, for that last visit. Hard on me, to say the least, but without it I don't know where I'd be today. I couldn't say good-bye ( just told her I'd be calling her the next day when I was back ), as she wasn't actively dying then, just closer than I'd hoped to that final day 2 months later...when I DIDN'T make it back in time. Maybe just as well, as how could I EVER say good-bye to my MOM? I can't even say, a life well-lived, as there was so much despair and heartache in her life, things I couldn't fix for her. So much unhappiness and struggle. My only comfort is that I knew I provided her some long-awaited and so well-deserved happiness on that day. So in a very crucial way, it WAS a Happy Birthday. God bless you and keep you, Mom, MY Mom, and may you now be fully and truly happy where and how you are, as you always did deserve.....and Happy Birthday, from your loving daughter. XOXOXO

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You and I could have been the same person having the same relationship with our moms, or wishing we'd had more, and feeling lost and empty. I'm 54 years old and lost my mom 14 months ago. I read your posts and feel like I know you and know the struggles......I'm having them too. I wonder if I'll ever get over wanting my mom back...can I ever let her go? I guess it's all the unfinished business...all the time I wanted to spend with her that got taken away.

My move was just to be closer to mom. She turned 83 in June and I figured if I wanted to have time with her I’d better make the move soon.I had one of those gut feelings that only daughters and mothers have that something was amiss and I had to go and I had to go in a hurry. Instead of the usual weekend visit, I made it for seven days. For what? I couldn’t say yet, but when I have those eerie feelings I am, unfortunately, 99.9% right that something is wrong.

Mom was so small. She told me it was because she had had a chest cold and it just wouldn’t go away. I could tell she was sick because her watch and turquoise bracelet were loose on her wrist and her clothes looked too big. She told me it was because they, my brother and sister-in-law and mom, went to a baseball game and she got chilled after having the flu and she just couldn’t shake it. Also, she had that “look”…….the look when a person’s skin is grayish and their eyes become bigger and softer because they’re between worlds.

Mom and I had big plans. I would move closer and we would be together for dinners out at our favorite restaurants and go for walks and play Cribbage. Mom loves to walk….she walks 4 miles every morning at 7:30, up hill no less!! And, there’s that glass of cheap wine promptly at 5pm. It used to be a Martini for the longest time and I can’t remember when it changed to that wine. Mom could afford the best, but her depression era mentality made her buy Carlo Rossi by the jug. She was always so healthy because she was disciplined: disciplined about everything except the cigarettes. It must have been all that exercise, ocean air, cheap wine and her vegetable garden. She ate only vegetables in the summer and wouldn’t visit me if it was planting time.

We went for our first walk...... normally I can’t keep up with her on our walks, but this time mom had to stop and sit down five times, then we cut it short. I said, “Mom, you’d better see the doctor.” It’s just that darned cold I had!” She said without looking up. I lied to comfort her, “ You probably have walking pneumonia.” I knew instinctively from that tiny body and grayish coloring there was something terrible going on. Mom loved her Winston’s…… Winston Lights later on as if that helped. She smoked for 65 years and tried to stop a few times. I can remember the smog-like layers of smoke in our living room while watching Father Knows Best because both mom and dad smoked like locomotives. For fun I’d stick my finger up into a layer to break it………..

I gave mom until 2pm the next day to make an appointment with her doctor……I’m the only one who can talk to her that way and get away with it. The next morning at 6:30 mom woke me, “Please get up and take me to the doctor so I can be there when they open.” There was fear in her eyes. “I can’t breathe and I have so much pressure!” She either finally had permission to feel what she had already been feeling or she’d been waiting or me to come to begin the process.

Mom’s regular doctor was out, so she had some young guy, young enough to be my son, who was so uncomfortable and nervous that he made us nervous. He came back in with the x-rays and said without hesitation or emotion to my tiny mother, “ You have lung cancer and it’s inoperable.” I thought how the hell could he know that? We haven’t even seen an oncologist yet! She looked straight at him stoic as can be and then me, “ I expected this some day”

All mom's feelings were pent up inside just as they had been her entire life………I’ve never seen her express herself freely. Stiff and stoic. Always accusing me of “wearing my feelings on my sleeve” as if that was some kind of weakness. And there I was sobbing in that room with my feelings on my sleeve for God and everyone else to see. I drove home trying not to cry as tears slid out the edges of my eyes, trying to hide my feelings, and mom just kept saying, “I’ve had a long and good life Donna, don’t worry about it.” She looked at me as if I were an idiot for being emotional. Maybe it was fear…I have to believe it was fear that drove her words. I told her I was so sorry that this was happening to her……and she’d say, “What do you expect?”

I had been gone from home for 30 years, but it was my place to stay. I could just hear mom now, “That’s a good job. You just go back to Arizona and start work and I’ll deal with this. Your brother and his wife will take care of me. That’s why I gave them that property next door.” When I popped the question, do you want me to stay and take care of you……you could have read the shock on my face. Mom said softly, “Yes, Donna I want you to stay here with me.” “Well,” I said,” I would’ve stayed no matter what you said” I can still talk to her that way……… And so we began the journey. To this day I’m not sure if mom asked me to stay to care for her to punish me for being gone all those years or because she knew I could handle the situation or because she truly wanted me there. She didn’t allow the people she loved the most to see her during the last weeks, only me, her sister and occasionally her son and daughter-in-law. Mom said she didn’t want those people to have to see her that way. Whatever the reason I gave her unconditional love until the end, something mom was never able to give to me. With that I believe there was a healing of sorts for both of us.

I miss all the time lost. I appreciate all the times we said "I love you" before mom died. I'm glad we had wonderful trips together all around the world many years before......but I wasn't finished with her yet. I still needed more. I still need more of my mom.

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Dear Dester,

Well, you've certainly been through the wringer, too. It's somehow comforting to find others who can really relate to our particular struggles, just to know we're not as misunderstood as we sometimes, or oftentimes, feel, too.

Your story is so sad, too, similarly to mine. You're fortunate in one way, though...that you got the opportunity, and choice, to look after your mom, for a time anyway. Had my father not been around, I would have been able to do much more, and likely would have considered moving my Mom to our city...although she probably wouldn't have come, wanting to stay in her home of 46 years, despite the fact she could no longer take care of it anymore, it was so large, and not elderly-friendly. My stupid father had never 'gotten around' to finishing looking into condo's for themselves, not that they had any real local help for such a large move, though. However, I digress....

I must admit, I'm rather surprised my Mom didn't get lung cancer, and die from that. In fact, she didn't even die from the liver cirrhosis she'd had for a long time ( which did land her in hospital a few times previously ). In the end she died of a stroke, had had a few small ones before that, and also had heart disease, 2 kinds of arthritis, a fractured spine, high blood pressure...she was suffering for many years, but no one knew the extent of all of her ailments other than the cirrhosis. Her regular MD was an ass, wouldn't even help out when she went into the hospital, wouldn't talk to me...same with her internist when she was diagnosed as alcoholic. In fact, I highly suspected, from things he said ( and things he refused to do for her ) that he was alcoholic himself...not terribly uncommon among medical professionals. We'd even had an alcoholic doctor as an extended relative in our family years previous - he was the one who first told us how common it is. Anyway, my Mom smoked for many years too ( I've never counted how long ), and frankly, so do I still. With all this stress, I know I can't successfully quit right now, but still hope to try again.

I can also relate to what you said about their eyes getting bigger and softer ( though my Mom's skin actually looked quite normal when I saw her last ). I wondered about it at the time, although I didn't know this was a common phenomena. I knew that she'd 'visited' those other realms already. My (deceased) brother had told me of one visit with her where she'd been back on the trolleys in our city, and another when she was back on the farm and her own mother was still alive and waiting for her to come help with dinner. It scared the bejeezers out of me, and yet I was thankful that it was helping prepare me for the inevitable, although I didn't know how soon or long that would be from then.

How awful for you to have had a doctor with such a lack of bedside manner!..but I know the type. Idiots! mad.gif And yet, he rather suited your mom, didn't he? I understand your mom's mentality, as mine was very similar. I think part of it is just the mark of having lived through things like the Depression - you HAD to be tough to survive. But my Mom could be emotional, too. It's just that I was really her only outlet for that softer side, and since she first turned to me when I was quite young, I didn't have the necessary skills or experience to know what to do for her back then...although I certainly empathized with her pains. In later years, we'd often engage in 'gripe sessions' with each other and, while not a healthy way to cope, it did cement that bond even further because we DID agree on many things that bothered us both about other people, or circumstances. As for being kind of 'cold', I got some of that, too. Abruptness, sometimes downright harshness and lack of sympathy, were also her trademarks. The world really pissed my Mom off ( and her daughter learned this one TOO well for herself, too! tongue.gif ) so many things came out this way. There's one thing she said to me in my teens and early 20's that really drove me up a wall....."You're just a frustrated KITTEN!". Not only was it true...I had a LOT to be frustrated ABOUT!..... but she could sometimes say it in such a way that conveyed such disgust for my feelings, I would just shrivel inside, yet on the outside I'd simply show anger back. I, too, got 'accused' of being the emotional one, crying easily, yes, as if it was almost some kind of disease that she didn't want to catch. Her hard shell was a mask and a defense mechanism, but I didn't figure that out for many years. And in any case, it didn't allow for the kind of sharing and support I so desperately needed and wanted. And yet, there were times when my Mom counted on me to play that feeling role, when she, too, needed another female who could commiserate with her own lot. And she DID come through for me during certain key times, like when each of my budgies died. It was MOM who instructed one brother to build me a casket, Mom who lovingly sewed and lined it with quilted velvet, I who finished it off with lemon oil and Mom who dug the hole and helped me bury my Kiki in the yard. She was always careful, in all her years of gardening, to never dig anywhere near that spot again....at least as far as I know.

This was the lesson I finally learned, almost too late entirely, but not quite. All my Mom wanted, was the same thing I'd wanted - that unconditional love. Once she had her first stroke, no matter how she acted or what she said, I let it go, with more understanding. It was in this act that I got my Mother back, back to the Mom I'd known so many years ago, before her crummy life and alcohol took their toll on her and half-destroyed her mind. During that last visit I got to actually touch and see this new/old Mom of mine, a Mom I'd remembered from my earliest years, and something I'd been waiting to experience again for the better part of my life. So yes, I understand feeling robbed. I only got 2 days of that ( and this is ignoring the lapses she still had into less-mindful states, when I was there, which were much less pronounced than what my brother had witnessed ) before she was gone. All other times after that she was worse again on the phone. And I knew the love I'd shown was what had made all the difference in the world....except I couldn't keep being there, in person, to make her final 2 months more loving. How CAN one let go after that? How can one NOT feel terribly about not having known HOW to accomplish this sooner, when it might have made a bigger difference and possibly have saved her from so much suffering?

I KNOW it's not really my fault, as I wasnt' the parent here, and it wasn't my job to have to figure all of these family dynamics out for my parents....but that's the way it worked out, and, God help me, that's how big my heart turned out after all the heartache.

As for you, I'm sure your mom kept you there because she had a yearning for you, the daughter who she knew in her heart had the capacity to do the right things for her. I do believe most people's spirits get clearer, more in control so to speak, as they approach death, unless it's sudden. You must have an inner strength in you, as people say I have, that shines through all the muck, and who would know this better than our mothers? I know the doubts we live with though, and while I can't say for certain exactly what she was thinking and feeling ( and isn't that the great problem with these stoic types?! ), if there wasn't a strong bond there, I doubt she would have wanted you with her, either. I suspect you probably feel, as I do, like you would give your eye teeth to really KNOW everything that was going on inside your mom, what the real TRUTH was. It can drive you batty! I'll tell you one thing, if all this isn't made perfectly clear in Heaven, or whatever state or plane we go to, then when I get there, I'm going to hold a protest march!!

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Dear Maylissa,

You certainly had/have a lot of complicated stuff going on with your grief....with your mom's drinking being an issues and all. That must make it all the more confusing. Plus the role reversal when you were younger because of the drinking. My family had addiction issues too...my dad was an alcoholic and my brother is one. Then there was mom who drank her wine every day, but no more...but couldn't give up those cigarettes. If anyone watched her suffocate like that from lung cancer they would never smoke again. Two of my good friends quit because of hearing about how she died. Mom never tried the patch or hypnosis or any other ways of quitting, although she tried so many times.

I hope it gets easier as time passes............but now I miss her every day. We didn't live in the same city, but we talked every other day and for an hour on Saturdays. Mom came and stayed with me for a month each year. There is a special tie between mother and daughter....it is sometimes strained, confusing and tense.....but nonetheless it is very cosmic. I didn't have children so I will not expereince that.........but I know it from my relationship with my mother. I see her in me so often..........I used to reject that and now I embrace it.

I loved my mother more than she ever knew.......I told her but she didn't believe it. She thought it was all about the Will and what I was going to get from her, but she underestimated me big time......it was my brother, her favorite, who was doing that. My mother openly played favorites all my life....my brother was her favorite...there were only two of us. Mom made it clear through her words and her actions that my brother was her fav orite boy..........and he took advantage of it. He manipulated mom and got expensive property from her before she died and manipulated her finances so I would get less from her. When mom was in a coma her mouth was permanetly open........my brother took me into the hallway of the hospital and told me he wanted to get the gold crowns out of her mouth before the funeral parlor people got them. He wanted to know if I wanted 1/2 of them. I was so aghast that I couldn't speak, I just told him that he had sunk to the lowest depths of any human I'd ever known and I couldn't talk to him any longer. That was my brother and I don't speak to him or his wife who is just as bad....they tried to get all they could in the end. My mother would have been surprised how her favorite really was in the end.................

I was so distraught over my mother's death and then having to deal with my evil brother that it has taken me a year to recover from it.....and I'm still not OK. I wonder if it is about alcoholism or just being evil and greedy............

I won't go into how they treated my mother when she was alive....they supposedly were the ones to take care of her house. But they let it run down so it would value less in the estate...they wanted to buy it. So they let mom live in a run down house because of their greed. It also had mice infestation in the kitchen....and she had given them an expensive lot next door so they would take care of her...........I hope God was watching this. Obviously I haven't let go of this yet.................

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Dear Dester,

Oh, you're right! We have quite a bit in common! And you've obviously had a lot of complicated grief issues, too! One thing, just to clarify - I didn't have to play the parent until my Mom's last few months; and in childhood, I just wanted to fix her life..it's not like I knew how to.

My father, though never officially diagnosed or anything, was the REAL problem drinker in our family. It was always his binges that sent us scurrying for cover, or leaving home 'til the next day. He was also verbally, mentally and physically abusive (the last reserved just for my Mom; had he ever touched me, I would have killed him, I hated him so much ) My Mom, on the other hand, just sipped her alcohol through the day, and somewhat openly, too, so it never dawned on me that she had a problem with it until they found her cirrhosis. Her drinking was really only characterized by bouts of irrationality ( I used to just call it acting kind of crazy and confusing ) and irritability, which I never attributed to it, either, because in that household, who wouldn't be irritable?! dry.gif And even if someone isn't technically alcoholic, they can exhibit many of the same behaviours and ways of thinking, when growing up in an alcoholic home, which my Mother also did, as her father was alcoholic, too, as are some of her siblings. So all us kids had some form of addictive personality, and for me it's cigarettes ( tried 2 dif. patches and neither worked for me). For my brothers, one had his pipe, the other is his whole lifestyle = work thing.

I am childless, too, by choice. I recognized that I still had a lot of growing up to do, never felt particularly maternal towards young children anyway, and certainly didn't want to bring all my own garbage into an innocent's life and ruin them as I felt my parents ruined all of ours, psychologically. What I DID have, though, for all of my life, was an inherent connection to animals, so we had furkids instead....only 2 of them and when my furgirl is no longer here, I don't know that I could ever put myself through the anguish of losing them again...but we'll see. However, I've noticed that since my Mom's passing, there's a part of me that wishes I had a daughter, too. It's for somewhat selfish reasons, though, so it's probably best that I don't. It's mainly that I don't have any other female to pass everything on to ( since girls usually care about these kinds of things more....mementos, stories, clothes, etc. )

I see both the good and the bad of my Mom in me, too. I try my best to reduce or eliminate the bad, and treasure and grow the good....but then I've always done that as I became more self-aware over the years. I don't think either of my brothers ever even thought about what they were like, or who, or if they did, they, like my dad, didn't see anything that needed changing, unlike those of us who knew them! laugh.gif I recall, painfully, another comment my dead brother's spouse said to me after my Mom died. When I told her I'd spent years figuring out my family and their dynamics, she said, "Well!....what a grand waste of time that was! I could think of much better things to do with my time! " She's such a self-righteous, self-serving, cold-hearted, totally self-UNaware witch! So my siblings devolved through the years to hook up with less and less-desirable people, where I was trying to better myself to attract the mentally-healthier types. My remaining brother never even had a girlfriend ( no one would have put up with him for long anyway, unless they were masochistic ) and my dead brother has 2 blood-children, one of whom wanted nothing to do with him after he and the boy's mother split and the last one has no father now and is under the control of this witch-woman...and my remaining brother, who wants to MENTOR him!! Aaahhhh! Run for the hills, little boy! This is the brother who's a thief, a liar, physically handicapped, emotionally stunted, a fraud artist, a control freak, physically violent ( just like his dad, and older brother ), etc, etc, etc. He even hit our Mother once, with his CANE!

And, very much like your mother, mine, too, played favourite to this brother, but I think, mainly out of a guilt complex because he was born with cerebral palsy. She killed herself with his treatment and care when he was a youngster and doted on him hand and foot until she no longer could because of her own ill health ( even THEN, feeling guilty for this lack! ) (BTW, his CP only affects one leg, not anything else, nor his brain ). And after all this, HE was the one who didn't care she was in hospital, dying. His mantra: "I don't have TIME for......! Don't BOTHER me!" I can't tell you how many thousands of times I heard that from him, for everything and anything. He hasn't a grateful bone in his body....perhaps this is why his leg won't work properly! I'm SO glad you used the word "evil" ph34r.gif to describe your brother, too, as that's the one I use, for both my father and this brother....because it FITS! My father got mad at me and my dead brother, each for different reasons, years ago ( me, for daring to leave the family business where he wouldn't teach me anything of value, so that I'd BE stuck....I stopped playing his game when he interfered in my personal life when I was just turning 30.), and said he was cutting us both out of their Will. My Mother, of course, was intimidated into aquiescing. Ironically, when she died, no Wills at all could be found - our father had given my evil brother envelopes full of junk flyers! So evil brother had a just-as-crooked lawyer ( my dad's, naturally ) draw up a NEW Will, that is technically illegal as my father already had shown dozens of signs of dementia and everyone knew it long before then. He also claimed he had a POA for our father, when it turned out later, it wasn't drawn up when he'd claimed he got it, but likely once he commited our father to a home ( post-formal diagnosis of dementia ). So he learned well from his father how to flagrantly cheat and steal and break the law....and the Province ( who now has power over our father's care ) has refused so far to go after him. He also has likely stolen a sizeable inheritance that was coming to our father, but I can't even find out if this relative has died already or not, as only this brother now knows what seniors' home he's in, in another Province.

So, like you, I wonder what my Mother is thinking and feeling about how she didn't see to protecting her life, her valuables, her wishes, her daughter ( if not her other son, who she was unhappy with for other reasons ), now that her treasured demon spawn of a son has done nothing short of destroying what little was left of this family, finishing off the evil works of her husband, whom she hated. While she created this 'fix-it' mentality in me herself, by her words and deeds, she never would take any of my advise and this is what's come out of it. I don't even have a place to visit her, as my brother has her ashes and will likely never inter them properly. And I thought it was bad enough that she never got a Memorial or anything. My father refused to make a decision to hold something at the house, claiming there was no money for anything ( another lie, it turned out ), and my other brother had no income to spare, either, plus we had none at the time and I'd already had to pay for her obit. myself, with no help for any of this from our other brother, who didn't even call anyone after she died. Of course, nor did he call ME when our brother died, OR when our father was placed in a home! He'd asked me for my advise on where to place him, wanting something close ( only, it turned out, so he could send someone else there when he needed something signed! ), then never told me when it happened. I had to find out from the hospital, where he'd ended up. He refused to ever call me back, long-distance, even knowing we had no income at all, so I bore those costs as well. Oh, is there any END to the evil in our respective brothers?! I'm not a bit surprised about those fillings, as I know well the TYPE! In fact, I think my father SOLD my Mom's wedding band and I was frankly surprised he wasn't also trying to get some cash from her dentures, which should have been cremated WITH her! I found them in her bedroom, in the same hospital cup as I'd seen when there, but with blood mixed in.....shudder.....I don't know what that was from....it only makes me recall my father's story that she was murdered....and frankly, I will always wonder if HE could possibly have been the one to hit her in the head, causing that final stroke, as she had a private room. Oh, God....the horrors that they've left me with and there's nothing I can do about it. Though my brother suggested to him to request an autopsy, he didn't, though he was threatening to sue everybody, for months before and then after. So who knows? All this mystery around my Mother's life and death, and now the trauma of it all is in my very cells, carried by me every day.

While my Mom physically doted on my brother, she loved me in a very different way....she appreciated me and our connection and the things I'd do....yet her mind slowly but surely went the sicker she got...and my father, knowing she was alcoholic, was feeding her wine every single day since she lost her license in a bad accident! ( he boasted about this to me after she'd hemorrhaged from the overdose and they thought she'd die! ) Years before, I'd tried to rally the family to do a formal Intervention for her, but not one was interested. So I watched her go downhill for another 14 years, with my hands tied.

While I'm mainly done with my brother, I have yet to decide whether it's worth my while taking him to court over this Will, when the time comes...so it's STILL not really over unless I say it is, and I'm torn. I SO want to rectify the evil done and return some honour and respect to both my Mom's life and my daughterhood....but if it's just going to end up costing me in terms of mental health and money, it's not worth going there. However, it's not easy getting any straight answers out of lawyers in this regard and I'm SO sick of uncertainty, I don't want to blindly guess.

This is STILL just part of my story about my Mom's whole illness and what I've had to try and cope with...HA! COPE with!?!?! Who can COPE with stuff this mental?! Yes, Donna, I'd like to find a professional who's actually gone through the same kinds of evils and ask them how in world we 'let this go'.....tra-lah'ing into the sunset, to lead normal, happy lives..... blink.gif

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Dear Maylissa,

Forgive me for harping on this, but "justing wanting to fix your mother's life, but not know how to" is still taking on the parent role on an emotional level. I have been going to ALANON over the last few years....I never knew my father was an alcoholic until I was 52 years old. He died when I was 19. I have learned a lot about the family dynamics in an alcoholic family and never even thought abut myself that way until recently. I have a lot more to learn about myself and how it all affected me........the one thing I'm working hardest is forgiveness. My mother and father had those issues because of dyfunctional issues in their lives and childhood and never had the educational and/or savvy to figure it all out.....so they just suffered and remained ill. I have to find a soft place in my heart for them or it only hurts me to go on being bitter. That includes my brother who is an alcoholic.........he inherited that gene from my dad and then went on to be just like him. It is a family disease. I will probably need counseling for the next few years because of all this........

Thank God I can see through it all and know there is another way of being. Sounds like you are in a similar place. Dester

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Oh, I don't consider it 'harping' at all! I'm glad to be able to discuss these problems with an understanding ear. Yah, I know all about that. Went to Al-Anon ( 3 different groups, even ), many A.A. meetings as well ( to learn more mainly, and me and my now-husband even took my Mom to a couple, but it didn't 'take' - she was drunk when we went each time, so I let her be ), then a few years later CODA, which I found even more helpful than Al-Anon. What I was saying was that, in childhood, and until I learned about alcoholism and its effects in the family, I played that role she'd assigned me, though I didn't know what I was doing then. You're right, of course, that this was playing 'parent'. I became the "fixer" and the "feeler" in the family. But later, in the rehab., I was TRULY playing the parent, with our roles really reversed due to her illness, as usually happens when parents get old and sick. And though I was already cognizant of this dynamic, it still feels pretty shocking and sad, even when you're prepared and geared-up for it. It becomes just another aspect of losing your parent, who is now more like the child.

This unhealthy dynamic was partly why I gave up my family in later years, when both my Mom's drinking and my dad's severe control issues were too much for me to put up with anymore. I couldn't take the emotional pain anymore and my newer way of trying to be myself wasn't having any impact. At that point I'd already decided that my Mom's choices were hers and if she couldn't take any advise seriously, there was nothing I could do about it. All I could do was have a relationship with her based on my own boundaries and terms, with a good dose of tolerance and understanding thrown in for her 'ways' and her addiction. I recontacted her about 2 months after having cut things off, and I'll tell you, I got much more respect for my choices forever after that. So those principles DO work.

As for now, while I know intellectually the same things as I did then, I'm just finding that the emotional vestiges are still there, all flared-up from her passing. So I'm feeling those same old regrets in my heart, despite knowing better in my head. Plus, had I been capable earlier of giving her the kind of love I showed her once she was hospitalized, perhaps some things, at least between US, would have been a bit better still. But you know how it goes.....people often aren't able to muster up that out-pouring of intense love until something tragic happens. Sigh...that's how it was with me, too.

More compassion and purer love came out, as I knew I was running out of time and it was just such a visceral response to the emergencies.

For me, this is why I really don't feel I have to dwell on my Mom's failings, though of course, the child in me still hurts just from not getting what I needed as a daughter. It's strange...I lost more of her in later years than I seem to recall in my childhood, although I know there were enough instances even then to do damage to me. But I felt more supported by my Mom, if not understood, when I was younger, than when I was a teenager and beyond. Maybe that's why I seem to be the only one who was able to pull out of the situation with any understanding. In any case, I found that after she'd passed, THAT'S when I was, for the first time in my whole life, able to see all the GOOD things she'd done, in a much bigger light, despite everything else. I'd never felt such gratitude in such abundance before then. It was a lovely balancer to the way I'd felt up till then! Probably part of that 'idolizing' thing we do when someone passes, but for me, it was the perfect measure to effect that balance that hadn't been there before. But of course, now I have regret that that, too hadn't shown up when she was alive, when it would have made things so much easier for ME! I also know this is part of my innate perfectionism ( also a side-effect of the family dynamics ), wanting to have all my ducks in a row for every possible situation, so as to 'fix' the situation! GAD, it can make my head spin, the way these things are so intertwined!

And that's the most frustrating part about all of it....I KNOW this stuff, inside and out, but knowing it in my head does nothing to stop the FEELINGS that come up! I still feel everything first, before I have to do the work of thinking it out of my system! So I guess I'm still clueless as to how to get to the point where I'll just feel differently ( better ) in the first place. I get so sick of this work, yet my happiness depends on me figuring it out somehow.

As for finding a soft spot for my dad especially, and my last brother, I've tried before and just don't want to bother anymore. No one in my father's family has ever had a clue as to why he's the way he is, can point to no childhood trauma that they were ever aware of, so that leaves me with nothing concrete to work with. For all I know, maybe he just didn't get enough oxygen or something when he was being born! His evilness just puzzled everyone I've asked. Plus, I contrast that to the intense abuse my Mother suffered, yet even she managed to make some needed changes for the sake of our relationship, despite all her severe problems. So as far as I'm concerned, my father and brother don' t have any great excuse that I'd ever buy. Since we're ALL responsible for being how we are later in life and for how we act, I'm not letting them off the hook for choosing to be terrible people and staying that way, despite what it costs them. Despite how much I've hated them, my actions towards them have most often been completely and deliberately toned-way-down, always in hopes of some positive change. They've made up their minds to carry on as if I, and others, have done things to warrant their viscious behaviour. So at this point, I can't forgive them for their own choices. It's too late for my father to change now ( he's not going to last much longer ), but my brother has no excuse good enough for me now. I've changed through the years, so did my Mom with me, so have many others around me. It's time for my brother to GROW UP and accept responsibility for his deeds, and if he won't, I'm not going to molly-coddle him, nor save any place for warm feelings in my heart for him. I mean really...who could think that keeping your Mother's ashes stuffed in a closet, with no urn or anything, is 'okay' by anyone's standards? I wouldn't even do that with their ashes, even with no love lost between us! And then not even have the common courtesy to tell your own sister whether or not this has been rectified....it's simply despicable.

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Thanks for talking about confliciting feelings about mothers. I moved away from home when I was 18 and only came back for a day at a time over the years. Later, when I was older I began to accept my mother for who she was, and finally in her last two years, she moved closer to be near me, and I was happy for this, and able to see her every week when she was in an apartment, and almost every day when she was in a nursing home. I'm glad I had this time, and I always enjoyed going to see her. She would always feed me something, and I would feel like I was being taken cared of. I don't have that now anywhere. It was very special these past two years.

I do have some guilt because when she was dying, I continued to travel for work, even though she didn't want me to. My daughter and her fiancee were with her when she died, and I was on a plane coming home. In a way I'm glad I didn't see her dying, and can remember her alive.

She was a very strong woman, but lonely in many ways. She had her emotional problems, and had trouble fitting in, but was always telling others what to do. She was very intelligent, and always encouraged me to be all that I could be. She always said that I had a right to work and a family. She encouraged my children to go on to get professional degrees.

I am beginning to know now that I am more like my mother than I thought. I am "strong" like her, but also emotionally tend to keep to myself. I love a few people, but have trouble committing. Right now I am a bit lost, trying to figure out whether to move, and whether to to remarry, but both are overwhelming decisions.

I'm realizing that I am handling a lot emotionally, and need support.

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Welcome, Joani,

You really sound like you have your head on straight, grief aside. Do you mind if I ask when your mother passed? I wish I could have had the opportunity to do what you did in the last few years of my Mom's life here....although I know I would have had to face far worse decisions than I did, because had I seen the way she was likely living, and the conditions of same, I don't know how I could have ever left her house without intense feelings of guilt. Yet at the same time, I couldn't have changed much except for being a maid and nurse of sorts. For me, I still would have had to contend with my abusive father, trying to disrupt everything, making me live the life I said "no more" to, so many years ago. I know I'll always regret not having the magical powers smile.gif to make my Mom's life better at home, but that's just a pipe dream, I know. But at the same time, I think I've been spared more agony by not having that much more taken away from me with her passing. If I feel as bad as I do now, I can barely imagine how much worse I'd feel if I'd had even more of a renewed relationship with her, and then it was gone. Oh, I don't think we can 'win' no matter which way things were between us and our mothers!! So many of us have regrets, and unfulfilled hopes and dreams in our mother-daughter relationships...and when they're gone we've 'lost' everything we either had, or didn't have and wanted with all our hearts.

I'll always wonder, too, whether being there to actually see my Mom die would have been far harder to deal with than not making it back in time and having my last memory of her be a more pleasant one. I think most of us want it both ways.

It's good that you're reaching out if you need support, as that's why most of us are here. There IS support to be gained from both sharing and sometimes giving whatever you can, although I think one gets more, the more one shares....must be another example of giving and receiving being the same thing. Glad to have you aboard!

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