Sunday, May 30, 2010
A Daughter’s Reflection/My Mother’s Eyes
I sit in the driver’s seat uncomfortably aware of my elderly mother staring at me. I steal a quick glance at her and state more than ask, “What?”
“Nothing,” she replies, “Just looking at you.”
“Oh,” I reply, mildly annoyed.
This has happened on other occasions in the past year and I think, “This is just part of the getting older scene. Less tact, less inhibitions, a certain rudeness or inappropriateness of social behavior that seems to come with the terrain.”
Later, I speak with my girlfriend about this and how it makes me feel uncomfortable.
Over the phone, across the miles her reply takes a moment to be formed. Then, “Don’t you ever, or haven’t you ever found yourself staring at your girls, just wanting to drink them in? I mean, it’s as if I am trying to memorize every plane and detail of Em’s facial features. All the subtle nuances, the essence of who this daughter of mine is. Don’t you think that maybe that’s what your mom may be doing?”
I am stopped short by this. My mom and I have never connected well emotionally. She admits she never was good at showing affection. She said that physical affection was never a part of her family dynamics growing up, but she never doubted that she was loved. I thrived on physical displays of affection and affirmation and only my dad did that. I needed my mother’s love that way. Parts of me were stunted by its absence.
Maybe now in the twighlight of her life she is trying to somehow connect with me on an emotional level. She certainly has become more desirous of hugs, when I arrive and when I leave. And, she holds on longer and longer each time.
Maybe she’s afraid of forgetting me, losing me, either because her mind is changing rapidly and she’s aware of it, or because she knows she’s closer every day to leaving this realm. Maybe she’s trying to commit me to memory,her daughter, this woman who’s complicated and struggling with her and her demise; commit her memory of me to a place deep in her heart that will never slip away. Maybe she fears losing me in her memory as much as I fear it.
Maybe she just realized all the years she let go by without holding, touching, and loving me the way I thought I needed it and now is pouring her love and affection into me by this one act. By absorbing me through the windows to her soul, her eyes, and holding me there in her mother’s heart for eternity.
Maybe, God in his wisdom knew that in order to love my own daughters and son well, lavishing physical affection on them as they grew up and once they were adults, I needed to be starved of that in my own life. Then, in the intricate thread of His redemption woven into my life and the remaking of my life’s story, on all levels, He used that hunger for me to know and understand the power of a mother’s heart and affection in her child’s life. Maybe in the midst of it all I am finally being loved and held in the arms of my mom through His amazing grace and during this last chapter and season of our lives together here!
As I have struggle to understand what it means to “honor my mother” with whom my relationship has been difficult, I sense in the midst of all of this that God is saying “she loves you as she can and I will always love you completely.” I can rest in that.