Mother’s Day and My Memoir

Years ago I hated Mother’s Day.
The search for a card was the worst. A card that didn’t say: “Mom, you’re the greatest,” “I adore you, Mom,” “Mother, you’re the best ever!” And Hallmark had plenty more I ignored and didn’t buy until I felt guilty.

The verses and kudos didn’t fit the mother I had. In fact, sometimes I wished she were dead. Then I’d be free of the abuses, emotional and verbal. But I’m not in charge of life and death choices.

Despite my feelings, I always sent flowers and a vanilla card. How could I not? She was my mother. She breathed life into me. Yet she seemed to hate me. And I didn’t know why.

Years passed. Hurts continued. One day I learned I would move Mama to Oregon near my home to care for her. No longer mobile, she needed professional care. With the support of my husband, the move took place.

And with that move came changes. Changes in Mama. Changes we couldn’t believe. What happened? What caused her to change? I have the answers to the questions, but I’m saving them for my memoir.

What I can share with you is that I never imagined feeling sad on Mother’s Day because she isn’t here. She died 10 months after we moved her to Oregon.

This is the last photo taken of Mama just before we moved her in December 2000. With her are my nephew, Kevin, and a younger me.

I believe she died happily. I was the one unhappy when she died despite those earlier wishes.

I pondered all the years we’d spent defying one another, arguing, hurting and, yes, hating each other. Why? Another question I know the answer to now. But you’ll have to wait.

And you know something? There is a good side to my mother. I hope to do justice to that part of her story in my memoir. She deserves nothing less.

Via Google Images Via Google Images

24 thoughts on “Mother’s Day and My Memoir

  1. Wow Sherrey, what a powerful post. You brought back painful memories here. I used to cringe on mother’s day because of the same things you wrote. I knew if I didn’t buy my mother a card, she would guilt me out and be angry. I always had a difficult time like you choosing cards that were ‘politefully correct’, direct, with no mush. It was an uncomfortable day for me. I’m glad you found a place, even for awhile to reconnect. I cannot say the same. πŸ™‚

    1. Funny, Debby, that I thought of you as I wrote the post. Knowing the similarities in our lives, I suppose, brought you to mind. Sorry you too had to suffer through so many Mother’s Day celebrations like ours. And sorry there was no reconnect for you. Seems as if you turned out A-OK though! πŸ™‚

      1. How sweet of you Sherrey to think of me on the subject. I’m okay, really and truly. I am blessed to have been one of the lucky ones to be able to look back at my life with understanding of what was, and still hold compassion and found a way to forgive. My resentments of my youth became understood as I aged and my motto became somewhat biblical, “Forgive those who know not what they do.” πŸ™‚ Thanks so much Sherrey for your kind thoughts. <3

  2. Sherrey, you have planted an intriguing question in this post. In what ways did you feel motherless as a child? And what have you learned that will help others heal from the effort you have put into your own healing?
    My mother is still living, and she is the star of my memoir. A lot of who I became was made possible by her unconditional love. And yet she wasn’t perfect. Nor am I. Still finding grace together.
    Wishing you lots of comfort, insight, and fortitude as you continue the journey.
    Mother’s Day would make a good launch pad for your book, and a few essays in magazines and newspapers sent months in advance of mother’s day might help draw attention to the less-than-ideal mother story.

    1. Shirley, you are constant in your encouragement and support for so many, and I feel blessed to be among them. Yes, there are many stories like yours, and I suppose many like mine lived by too many who are hesitant to come forth and tell their stories. Thank you for an amazing idea for launching around Mother’s Day and for the essays, etc. I am indebted to you for your offering it to me. Bless you, dear friend!

  3. My problematic relationship was with my father, but my mother’s and mine improved with age: She became more mellow, and I became more forgiving. It’s all about grace, isn’t it! I’m so glad you have pushed through to this point in your memoir, Sherrey. I’m in the murky middle, and wondering about the worth of all this effort.
    Of course, it’s worth it – if just for posterity. πŸ˜‰

    1. Marian, I think the growth we experience as women makes forgiveness so much more palatable as we grow older. Your words, “it’s all about grace,” say it all. I remember days and weeks when I felt in the murky middle with this book, and yes, it’s worth the effort. And yes, if just for posterity, my friend. πŸ™‚

  4. I know few people, even non-writers, who had idyllic relationships with their mothers. In fact, I tend to wonder, what else does she lie about? on the rare occasion I hear someone who claims to have had that magical, perfect mom. My mom was a product of the times and her personal history. I suppose my daughter would say the same about me if I asked and she were honest. The wheel keeps turning.

    1. Sharon, women our age tend to have mothers who were products of the times and their personal history. Unfortunately, we don’t learn everything about them since another characteristic of their generation is silence. If we don’t know their story, it’s hard to sort out the reasons behind poor relationships. Thanks for stopping by today.

      1. My case may be a little different, because I knew my grandmother relatively well and know HER family history, and I can see patterns repeating. This family has been dissected every which way by a couple of layers of cousins, many in my mother’s generation as well as my own. My grandmother was abusive in later years, to some grandchildren and not others (I, the oldest, was in favored status). My mother was abusive to my sister, but not me. It all adds up to a tale as twisted as a piece of juniper root driftwood.

  5. There are similarities in your relationship with and story of your mother to my own with my father. He’s dying in hospice right now.

    1. Luanne, so sorry to hear about your father and that your relationship with him was so like mine with my mother. I hope that you might find some final peace before he passes.

  6. Writing a memoir taught me to understand my mother. All the things she couldn’t share while she was alive brought her to life after she was gone.

    1. Yes, Paula, the things we find out after they’re gone often bring alive the reasons behind why our mothers or fathers were the way they were. If only they would open up before they’re gone!

  7. Sherrey, I know it must not have been easy to see the good things in view of the way you were raised. But you were able to rise above the hurt and do the right thing. I look forward to the entire story.

    1. Joan, thank you for your encouragement and support. When you’re writing a story about pain and abuse, it is very hard to write those images, but to then turn to the perpetrator of your abuse and look at their good side is doubly hard. thanks for understanding that.

  8. Sherrey, All of us have our good and bad sides and it’s mostly family members who see the worst parts of us. Those who don’t live with us usually only see the good sides.
    Like you, I hated my mother for many years and wasdeeply confused that those outside of our family circle loved her and said she was the greatest. It is only through time and finding out more about my mother, that I am able to understand that she loved me deeply, but had problems of her own. She really was doing the best she could.

    1. The truth is you’re right, Joan! Our good and bad sides aren’t always shown to all the people in our lives. Some we choose to just offer up the best of ourselves.
      My mother also did the best she could. I find out at the end of her life, and share in my book, why she treated us the way she did. And with that learning realized she didn’t know any better.

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