This is the whole truth of what I would say, if I were not concerned about being PC at my mother’s memorial. But, because of the level of understanding of 99% of the people who will be there, I have omitted several details in what I will actually say, because they wouldn’t understand.
The mother daughter relationship can be one of the most close and yet one of the most complicated relationships there is. When I think back to my memories of Mom, I remember several of the things she taught me. As I was a product of the late 60’s and 70’s, it was important that I be skilled in the domestic arts: cooking, cleaning, and sewing. And I did learn those things.
In particular, I remember the morning of one of my parents’ anniversaries, and we kids decided to give mom and dad breakfast in bed. I took their order, and we (probably me more than the brothers) made their breakfast. I remember making Dad a fried egg, but because I forgot to put butter in the pan, it ended up rather scrambled. I also remember going to make Mom’s Sanka, and not knowing how much of what to put in the cup. I don’t think I could read yet, so I must have been 5. One teaspoon of Sanka in the cup, pour in the boiling water, and stir. Toast was made, and breakfast was served.
When I was a teenager, Mom felt it was important for me to know how to check the oil in a car, and to know how to change a tire. And so that I was practiced at tire changing, she made me change her car’s summer tires to her winter tires… all 4 of them. It came in handy in college when my then boyfriend’s car had a flat and he was about to call someone to come and change the tire for him. I looked at him in disbelief and went about changing the tire (teaching him how to do it as I did it).
One of Mom’s greatest gifts to me was the love of music. As she was a professional musician, she took me to children’s music classes beginning when I was 3 years old. I had my first instrument lessons at 6. And added music theory classes when I was 8. We were taken to more of Mom’s performances than I can count: orchestras, musicals, chorales, quartets, and more. I was steeped in classical music literally from when I was in the womb. And even though I didn’t choose music as a professional career, and I haven’t played in a long time, I know that anytime I choose, I can pick up my violin and play again.
Some of the most important lessons Mom and I worked on were for me to learn strength and independence, compassion and understanding. Did I learn these from my mother modeling them for me? No. I learned to be strong by having a mother who was often not there for me, and undermined me when I was very young. You see, Mom was bipolar. And when she would ramp up into mania, her perceptions of everything would become skewed. In that state of mind, she would verbally lash out at me, attacking with her razor-sharp tongue. After years of being cut down, I learned to be strong and independent- that I had my own back.
And as I got older and understood more about Mom’s mental illness and how it changed her, I developed understanding and then compassion for what being bipolar does to a person. It changes them. And when her behavior deteriorated, I realized that who I would be dealing with would be manic Mom or depressed Mom, not level, even-keeled Mom. Level, even-keeled Mom was great. She was happy, social, friendly, engaged in life, and a real joy to be around. Unfortunately, during the last several years of Mom’s life that side of Mom came and went, sticking around for only very brief visits.
Thanks to a recent session with a wonderful, local Medium, I was able to connect spiritually to Mom to check in with her and see how she’s doing. So, Mom, as you are now on the other side, holding Dad’s hand, with your parents there with you, I wish you well in your current endeavor of reviewing your life. I understand that you are taking it slowly, and that is absolutely ok. Go as you can. And in time, your energy will be vibrant and sparkling again, as it was before you came into this most recent life. I will continue to connect with you, and when it’s my time, I’ll see you again. I love you.