Moth GrandSLAM story: Reconnecting

I told this story live at the March 2016 Boston MOTH GrandSLAM.  After decades of being alienated from my mother, this is a window into our attempts at reconnecting. 

***

When my mother called me last September, I was surprised by how easily I still recognized the sound of her voice.  When I was four, my father had thrown her out of our home and out of my life.

My mother became like a family myth, an outcast who people only whispered about when they thought I couldn’t hear.

I saw her once when I was a teen. I didn’t dare tell my father.

I saw her again when I was in my twenties, a mother myself. She met my daughters who were babies then. For the next year we engaged in an awkward attempt at reconnection. We looked so much alike, yet we were strangers.

I had no idea how I would integrate her into my life, the life that did not include her, that in fact was very much built on her absence.

Besides, my father was still in my life and I didn’t know how to tell him I was reconnecting with my mother.  I could not find the words.

So I had pushed my mother away, because this seemed like the safest thing to do.

Devastated, she said “I think your father is controlling you just like he controlled me”.

“Well you’re the one who left me with him”, I snapped back.

Not long after this aborted attempt at a reconnection, she moved to Arizona

And then twenty years slipped by, just like that.

 

But last September she flew up to Massachusetts because her mother, my grandmother, was dying.

On the Wednesday before Labor Day weekend, she called me.  I asked about my grandmother and about my mother’s flight from Arizona.  I was eager to settle on a day that I would come see her, knowing this might be our last chance to reconnect. If not now, when?

I offered to drive to my grandmother’s house the very next day, on Cape Cod where my mother was staying.  She agreed, and then we hung up.

The next morning I went through my closet…what does one wear when they haven’t seen their mother in twenty years?

It was a beautiful, sunny day driving to my grandmother’s house. When my mother answered the door, I thought how lovely she still was.  And she was real, not a myth, not my imagination, Not someone to forget. She is my mother.

I saw my grandmother that day too, and my aunt, also casualties of my parents’ divorce; that whole family had been erased from my life.  Now they embraced me, welcomed me as if I had finally come home.

My mother and I walked and talked of the weather and of my grandmother’s end of life. We talked of my daughters, all grown up now, and of family resemblances and of the ocean and of her quiet life in Arizona.

I wanted to talk about the stolen years, to face everything head on, but I knew that even after all this time, her pain was still raw; I saw it in her eyes that filled with tears at the slightest mention of the past.

I can feel her regret that is so vast it could swallow her; I think her grief might turn her to particles, to the dust in the desert she lives in.

I want to say I wish you would move back to Massachusetts. I want to spend spend time with you, to make up for all the lost years.  I want her to know my husband and our daughters.

I want my mother back.  I don’t want her to live two thousand and five hundred and seventy-two miles away for one more day.  But I don’t say this.  Instead I ask “Don’t you miss the ocean?”

When it was time for me to go, we hugged goodbye and both said how happy we were to have had this day.   We agreed that we both wanted to stay in touch, but we made no promises, no unrealistic mention of all the time we would spend together, knowing she would fly back to Arizona, to her life there.

*We talk on the phone sometimes now.  We are still getting to know each other.

I usually keep the conversation light, because I know that’s what she needs.

But the last time we talked, I did bring up the past. I told her I needed her to know something. I said “I know you meant to bring me with you when I was four. I know that was your plan. You told me so back then. You were preparing me to leave with you; I remember”.

..There was a long pause…and some tears.  She was relieved that I knew this .

I love you she said. I always have.

I say I love you too. And then I ask about her day.

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10 thoughts on “Moth GrandSLAM story: Reconnecting

  1. Hi… I have been following your blog for the longest time now. Its both sad, poignant and reassuring- to see you connect with your mother. I wish both of you the healing and the answers you seek. Lots of love

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have just read this and as an alienated mother it broke my heart. I wish I had hope of this for the future. My daughter was 15 when my husband began encouraging her to turn against me. We’d been married for 26 years and I stayed in that marriage for another 19 years knowing that if I ever left him I would never see my daughter again. I now realise that it was a coercive, controlling relationship. My daughter ended up tolerating me at best and treating me with contempt whilst making it perfectly clear she loved her dad but not me. He constantly told me that he preferred her to me and in the end, he told me (and she agreed) that I’d brought it all on myself. I honestly thought I was going crazy. Almost three years ago it came to a head and she told me to get out of her life. She was 33 and I left them both and moved away. I was broken. What helped was reading the book “Why Does He Do That? : Inside the minds of angry and controlling men by Lundy Bancroft; finding the site rejected parents.com and finding Karen Woodall’s site. But I still question myself, maybe I always will. My husband constantly told me it was ‘my awkward behaviour’ and my daughter agreed with whatever he said – she even copied some of the ways he treated me. After I left she sent me a hate filled email which listed all the things ” I’d done “. She might just have well have shot me. In my darkest moments I think that at 15 she was too far gone for me to reach but your story was lovely. I can empathise with you and your mum. Take care and be kind to one another. I hope you fully bridge the gap one day.

    Like

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