Thursday, January 24, 2008

Alice Hates Your Hair and Older Wounds.

When I was about ten I called my mother at work to be told by her co-worker that she hadn’t returned from court yet. When my mom arrived at home I asked immediately why she’d been in court and she collapsed in a heap and sobbed that it had been a child support issue with my father and that she had lost and we were in dire straits and that my father and his new wife were greedy and out to destroy us. The duration of my childhood was actually spent above the poverty line but the image of my mother so raw and ruined caused a pain worse than hunger.

Kaz’s mom Alice is on life support now and her final communication was an indication of her distaste for Kaz’s current hairdo. My mother’s suffering courses through my veins but the genesis of it is a great mystery. Maybe Alice told you Kaz how she came to hurt so much but Adele, if she had a clue herself, kept me in darkness. I know how much of my own hurt, which I guess always riffed on Adele’s hurt, was knocked into me during childhood and girlhood and young womanhood. I am just starting to understand the pain I carry but I will never understand my mother’s, the seed of it planted long before my birth. I know that Adele (Alice) never meant her own suffering to cause me (Kaz) to suffer. And I never intended for my own suffering to increase my mother’s sorrow but it did. Adele’s suffering was ended for the most part as she drifted into dementia. Alice’s suffering will end soon. And Kaz, because we are daughters, we must suffer but also my dear friend, because we are mothers, we are obliged to heal.

I am having a raw and ruined week myself as again, my grieving for my dad is interrupted by the consequences of his thoughtlessness. I am scared but I am bent on renouncing my family’s history of confusing money with love. I have just finished a magnificent collection of stories by Colm Toibin, “Mothers and Sons,” the emotional acuteness of which made me wince. Tobin possesses a miraculous and courageous understanding of the unique language mothers and sons speak to love and to wound. I am learning this language. And, I am still trying to decipher even further the unique mother-daughter lexicon, although I have no one left to converse in it with. This is a time of suffering but I will get through because I am a mother and that makes me strong and I am determined to make my own suffering cause as little suffering as possible. I open myself to the love in my home and my world and pray for the strength to honor it. I know sometimes my boys will see me cry but I pray too that they will see me heal.


Fionnchú said...

I have little to soothe you, but perhaps we can take a bit of strength from the simple comfort a well-crafted work of literature (or art or film or music) can bring us in sad times. I'm glad Colm Tóibín helps you. If he read this amidst all of his Booker Prize nominations and lecture tours and academic encomia, perhaps he'd take joy also in his assistance. Even if the aesthetic balm can not work wonders, it does shoulder some of our burden. I hope I can do the same. xxx me

Cari said...

Perhaps you should look at a different mother-daughter dynamic...Me and Marlene. Not to say that there never was pain, but I tried very hard not to repeat the negativity I received from my mother when I was younger. And consider this as well...our mother's generation created dysfunctional women. We can and have changed the pattern, and I can say I am proud to be a mother of such a wonderful child.