My mother died two days ago. In the midst of a pandemic and right before Christmas. She was 89. I’m still trying to determine if it’s relief or grief that I feel. Maybe both.
We hadn’t spoken for more than a dozen years. Not because I didn’t try from time to time. I reached out through occasional birthday or holiday cards, sending a gift or two. I didn’t have her phone number or email address, but she had mine.
My mother was a woman full of creativity. A talented artist in many realms. Sewing. Painting. Crafts. Gardening. Home decorating. She was even a trapeze performer one summer as a teenager. I’m grateful to have learned so much from her. To be curious. To explore possibilities. To try and fail and try again.
I also learned what not to do. The physical abuse taught me kindness and compassion. To be a different kind of parent to my children. From her fear of lack, I eventually found there is always enough and more. From the loneliness, self-reliance. From know-it-all bluster, humility. And, especially, that angry silence can wound as easily as violent words.
Granted, I’m still learning, all this and more.
As far as I know, the reason she “disowned” me was based on religious differences. She found out that I had abandoned my childhood religion. Her vengeful, judgmental god no longer fit my philosophy for life. It was no longer the basis for what I believed. However, I am grateful now (as an Interfaith minister) for that parochial education.
It’s been nearly 30 years since I discovered a spiritual path full of Love and Universal Principles and Karmic Law. I tried to explain, during that final phone call with her, that a good deal of what I’d learned to that point was not much different from the Bible teachings she held dear… that we had more in common than we had differences… that if she was willing to be open and talk it through, we could both share our beliefs more deeply and learn from one another… and see the similarities. She refused.
I feel a great sadness that we never got to have that or any other conversation since. However, initiating such conversations is now a key focus of my Interfaith ministerial work. My mother’s influence is still present. Perhaps the silent treatment, begun that day as she hung up the phone, is over.