Saturday, November 19, 2011

Can't you see the connection?

Torrential rain this morning, like a woman who cannot stop sobbing. My eyes are tired from the wakefulness of being on the alert till 3.30 am for the return of my youngest daughter who has finally finished her exams and spent the night on the town.

Now she is eighteen, now she is an adult, I must relinquish my authority over her. I can urge, cajole and encourage but I can no longer insist.

I have no more children now, my children are all adults. Not that they are in many ways in any less in need of my attention.

All week long I have wanted to write the story of my most recent visit to my mother. It comes to me now but I fear I cannot do justice to my sense of it, however hard I try.

These days my conversations with my mother have a repetitive feel. We have established a rhythm to my visits. On either a Saturday or a Sunday evening, I arrive just as she is finishing her dinner in the dining room. My mother sits at a table with another four women. They nod and smile at me when I walk in. They see me first.

My mother sits with her back to me and I tap on her shoulder so as not to startle her. Then I collect her walker from the car yard of other walkers lined up along the dining room walls and we make our way back to her room along the winding corridor with its burgundy and gold carpet.

My mother tries to keep up with me even as I slow my steps and tell her not to rush. At the last curve of the corridor before her room she takes the key from her pocket and hands it to me. I turn the lock and let us in. My mother flops onto her chair and sighs with the relief of one who is finally safe at home.

My mother loves this room she tells me again and again. She loves the roses which now cover every wall in the outside courtyard. She loves the way the sun rises over the raised garden beds. She loves the way this small courtyard has become her entrance to and escape from the outside world.

When she is settled I go through the ritual of rubbing sorbolene cream into my mother’s legs and as I spread the smooth white stuff up and down her calves and into her toes, we chat, usually about family. She asks me yet again about my youngest daughter. Is she in her final year at school? The same question every week. She asks after her great grandchildren and wants me to remind her of their names yet again, and of how old they are.

Last Sunday after putting her slippers back onto her feet and removing the last traces of sorbolene from my hands I sat back on the couch to finish my cup of coffee, another ritual of my visits.

The conversation shifted onto one of my brothers, the one who will not speak to my mother any more. He does not want to see her. He is too angry. My mother still speaks to his wife on the phone. They had talked only that morning.

‘He goes just like his father’, my mother said, by which I understand that my brother too has a drinking problem. Just like his father.
‘I don’t understand why they go like this,’ my mother said.
‘Wasn’t he the baby born after the one you lost?' I asked.

I tried then to explain to my mother the notion that it can sometimes be difficult for children who are born after a dead baby. No matter how well intentioned their mothers might be, the mother who still grieves for her lost baby while carrying a live baby in her arms can sometimes convey some of that grief to the new baby, who has a hard time making sense of his mother’s emotional tone.

I did not want to give my mother a potted version of the psychology of replacement babies but I wanted to suggest to her that my brother, who is deeply troubled, is troubled not for simple reasons like imitating his father. Some of his difficulties might stem from his relationship with his mother. Not to blame her, but to encourage some empathy and understanding.

The conversation then slipped from my live brother to my dead sister, the one who died at five months of age during the Hunger winter of 1945.

‘I could not believe she was dead,’ my mother said. ‘I ran to my neighbours. I could not believe it and even later when I walked all the way back home to Haarlem with an empty pram, I could not believe she was gone.’ My mother folded her hands in her lap.

'But I did not have it so bad,’ she said. ‘There were others much worse off than me.’

My mother was on a roll and I did not want to interrupt the flow of her words.

‘There was a fourteen year old girl in our parish. Her father had made her pregnant. Can you imagine? Horrible. He had run off. He had run off because it was against the law. That poor girl. I thought of her and what happened to me seemed not so bad.’

My mother’s eyes stared ahead into space as if she were scrolling through a movie of her memories. I said nothing, but pennies were dropping.

‘I thought too about that girl’s mother,' my mother said. How could that mother live with herself?’

My mother asked this question but she did not seem to want an answer, or even a response.

I sat there dumbfounded, with one thought only:

That mother is you. That mother about whom you wonder is you. And that fourteen year old is your other daughter.

Can’t you see the connection?


Christine said...

WELL!!!! *Big sigh*This is big... Maybe she 'knows' something.

Rubye Jack said...

Perhaps your mother did indeed see the connection and that is what she was telling you. She knew that mother was her. She did not want an answer because of her own guilt--maybe. My own experience with my mother was such that she let me know things about herself when I listened closely but she would never explain herself. She always alluded to...

Your mother is very lucky to have you and she must have done much right to deserve such a good daughter. I was your brother and understand, I think, what he must have to deal with in his life.

Elizabeth said...

I can only gasp and open my mouth in wonder at your writing -- at your patience and strength.

JeannetteLS said...

Oh, Elisabeth, your memoir will be one the reader cannot stop reading--it is already. There can be validation and great pain both in such a conversation. As my mom slipped in and out of coherence in the advanced stages of cirrhosis, she suddenly turned to me one day and said, "Jimmy. He hurt you, didn't he? Did he?" Her eyes, so big-round blue, like a baby's.

"Yes, mother."

"Yes. Oh. Yes. Oh."

"Do you want to know more?"

"Oh. No, no, no. Oh."

That was the one, the only moment in which she could dance near the day of the rape, when she was in a drunken stupor downstairs, and Jimmy came up to where I was taking a shower.

And perhaps that was your mother's one dance toward clarity, as close as she could bear to go... an acknowledgment nonetheless. It seems to me that she was doing something very similar. She knows guilt full well. At the same time, perhaps she worries at deeper levels about your brother's "going like your father."

Our families, Elisabeth, our families. But your loves still pours out in the rubbing of feet, the compassion that lies there as the grounding line of music.

I'm sorry. The tears make me ramble, don't they. Your story touches so very deeply and I hope that the way you write it gives you something equally profound. Your gift is enormous. Thank you for sharing your life as you do... as an artist.

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

Every time I read your posts I'm never entirely sure whether they're pure fiction, autobiographical fiction or the reality of your life. And that is a somewhat obscure compliment on the sheer emotion you drag from your readers with your writing. Once again, as I read you blog post, I felt emotions shift and stir within, always a sign of an excellent piece of writing.

Judy, South Africa

sarah toa said...

Feck! (excuse my language) I've visited you three times today trying to make sense of the last few lines because, to be honest, I was completely stumped and didn't make the connection at all.

But then I went back to the photograph (which produced tears on the first visit)and it gelled.
I have to say Elisabeth, that you are a chronicler of extraordinary skill and humanity. The conversation you've just described is one of those personal moments in a family history that are universal. I'm blown away.
(Also quite jealous, dammit.)

Ms. Moon said...

I am with Elizabeth. I am amazed. And you have given me another insight into my mother. I was born after two dead babies. Well, throw that one into the whole messy pile of a perfect storm of a bad situation.

Rose said...

A very moving piece - well written giving and witholding just enough information
to draw the reader in and hold them there even long after reading!

Kath Lockett said...

Those last few lines, Elisabeth. So telling, so moving, so full of pain, so confused, so....

Sorbolene and Saturday visits show your compassion and maturity. I'm in awe of you. And the way you express yourself over such harrowing memories and material.

Elisabeth said...

It seems from what folks like you are saying here, Christine, there is a level of recognition shining through my mother's denial. Thanks for alerting me to it. I had thought it was still buried.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Elisabeth. Are all mothers guilty of something? I fear they are. I know I am.
But we are also capable of great love.
So much of what happens, happens suddenly and we are not prepared with a response and don't know how to undo the bad.
If only we were given a handbook.
Your expression of service and love to your mother gives me the image of Mary Magdalene annointing Jesus feet with her perfume and tears.
My dearest friend had 4 difficult (2 tragic) pregnancies and I have always felt our relationship has never been quite the same.
As for waiting up for my children to return home safely, I now go to bed and sleep regardless. My philosophy is I will be awakened either by the phone or a knock on the door and in that event I need to be as rested as possible to cope with whatever it is. Sitting up will not bring them home earlier or safer. Thankfully they are very good at txting me at 3am telling me where they are sleeping!
But if anyone knows how I can sabotage the 20yo plans to holiday (read party, party, party) in Thailand this Christmas, I would be eager to act on it.
Karen C

Elisabeth said...

I gather from what you write here, Rubye Jack that you're a 'replacement child' or at least one who has struggled to make sense of difficulties that your parents could not themselves understand let alone help you with. It's a common story, a sad story and no less tragic for all that we often struggle with it in silence.

Thanks Rubye Jack.

Elisabeth said...

Thanks for your generous comment, Elizabeth. Coming from such a fine writer as you, I'm honoured.

Elisabeth said...

You do not ramble, Jeanette. When people respond to my posts with thoughts about their own experience I feel a surge of joy. We are after all connected in part through our shared experiences.

Your story here is amazing. That your mother could briefly venture out of the darkness of her diseased liver and loss of awareness to reveal her recognition of your trauma is wonderful. Maybe too little and certainly late, but perhaps never too late.

Thanks Jeanette for your kind and heart wrenching words.

Elisabeth said...

Judy, I'm pleased that you resonate with the emotional tone of my writing. I suppose I seek at all times to tell a story, essentially my story, and I hope to tell it in an authentic and convincing way.

Thanks, Judy.

Elisabeth said...

Oh Sarah, you're too kind. You are another wonderful writer whose appreciation of my words thrills me.

I can understand the story line might be confusing. It is evolving over time, but isn't that what always happens with stories, especially ones that continue from day to day?

Thanks, Sarah.

Elisabeth said...

Ah Ms Moon, to be born after two dead babies must be one of those awful unspeakable experiences that seeps into your consciousness without you even knowing it.

Your life is shadowed by grief, and yet here you are writing in your blog with such vibrancy about life, though of course you might add the occasional post in which the black dog of your grief seems to make its presence felt.

Isn't that the way for most of us, though now to me at least your struggles make even more sense. Of course from what you write, there are other issues as well.

Thanks, Ms Moon.

Elisabeth said...

Thank you for those kind words, Rose. I hope my post was not too cryptic.

Elisabeth said...

I knew when I wrote this post, Kath, that it would be hard to get to the bottom of all my teeming thoughts. Perhaps it's too fresh. Maybe in time I'll be able to get a firmer grip, but for now it will have to do. I'm grateful for your recognition of that struggle.

Thanks, Kath.

Laoch of Chicago said...

This well done but painful to read.

Elisabeth said...

I don't intend to cause you pain, Laoch but then again in certain situations some pain is inevitable. I'm not remarkable for my sense of humour.


Elisabeth said...

Mothers are always to blame, or so the saying goes, Karen. And with that blame comes guilt.

It's remarkable to me the number of people - men and women - who mellow and become less accusative once they have children of their own. I suppose they can then begin to understand how hard it is and that even with the best will in the world, as parents, we often make mistakes.

Losing babies at whatever stage during a pregnancy and beyond has powerful effects on all those near and dear to us. I can remember when I endured a miscarriage once at only ten weeks my sister in law who up till then had been supportive of me, and who was also some twenty weeks pregnant, did not want to know me, or so it seemed, at least not until well after the birth of her baby .

I suspect it had something to do with her 'survivor' guilt and/or a fear of contagion. As if losing babies in utero might be catching.

Thanks, Karen.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. I will be back to read this post and other posts...need more time to do your words justice.

Yvonne Osborne said...

This gave me goosebumps. Aside from the "connection" which is chilling, there are other similarities to my life.

My mother has gone from a cane to a walker to not being able to stand on her own. But we have her at home, blessed with many caregivers. Our plan is to keep her in her house on the farm she loves.

It is so hard, seeing those you love grow old and frail. It is so astonishing when they come up with a new story, one you've never heard before, one that gives you goosebumps. I don't want the stories to stop.

Well written Elisabeth.

sansserif said...

I enjoyed this post. We use the descriptors "mother and daughter" to define care and protection and nurture. The care of a younger daughter juxtaposed against the "care" a grandmother offered the mother...
I work in child protection (in Scotland) - and the story is sadly all too common...

Jim Murdoch said...

When Carrie talks about her mother she tells me that she also misremembers and misappropriates memories; things that have happened to others have now happened to her. And I don’t suppose it’s so hard to imagine a person farming out memories they would rather not have to other people, even fictional ones. Carrie’s mother tends simply to refuse to acknowledge that things she would rather not have happened to her ever did happen.

I often wonder at how different my brother and I are. I say we had the same upbringing and on the surface we did but in so many subtle ways his was also very different to mine; besides, although the nurturing (or lack of) may have been the same, and although we were the products of the same union, our basic makeups are so different. I, although I would have vehemently denied it as a child, take after my mother whereas my brother is more like my dad than he would care to admit. He was also the second son and lived in my shadow all his life, something he resented and I’m amazed her didn’t grow to hate me. He had problems with drink growing up, as did my sister, but, although I know what it is to overindulge, I never leaned on drink to the same extent they, and our dad, did, although I have little doubt that I could have become dependent; it is in my nature.

I knew a woman once who hated her daughter, her second-born (the first was a son); the birth had been a difficult one and afterwards she found she couldn’t look twice at the child, struggled to feed her and it wasn’t simply postpartum depression; this went on for years. They’d emigrated to Australia but came back as many do, homesick, their marriage failing, and I couldn’t believe how this woman was with her daughter. She talked about it – she was completely aware of what she was doing, hated what she was doing, hated herself for doing it – but she found herself unable to modify her behaviour. I think the girl was about seven or eight by then and although I wouldn’t say she’d been traumatised by her upbringing she had clearly been affected by it but dealt with her mother in a practical way, usually by avoiding her and seeking our her dad where some kind of parental intervention into her life was sought. Sad. But people cope. I suppose we’re all disfigured by our pasts.

Lally said...

Elisabeth, I usually don't leave comments because there's already so many and nothing to add. But did want to let you know I was the last of seven, the one before me though died in infancy and when I talk about it with my one remained sibling and spoke to the others when they were alive, they'd always be stunned to realize they didn't know anything about it and some thought the baby was earlier in the family (they're all less than two years apart, but the fourth and fifth, the only girls, had an extra two years between them and our oldest three brothers) etc. I'd mention his name John, and they'd remember that but hadn't thought of it for many years, if ever, unless I brought it up. But I remember my mother talking about him, and telling me how he was a saint now in heaven with God, etc. I knew she missed him and felt I was meant to replace him in some ways and fell short. But in all my reading and experience I never before applied the "missing child" trauma to me and my mother and dead brother John. So many thanks for "the connection" you've made possible for me to finally make.

Cathy Feaster said...

Hi Elisabeth, Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment on my blog...I'm so glad you did, for it brought me to yours. It's very nice to meet you, as well. I have been drawn in by your most recent post, and plan to be reading more of your earlier ones...

Elisabeth said...

Theanne and Baron, aka as Yaya, I believe, thanks for leaving your trace here. I look forward to another visit.

Elisabeth said...

There are many people who share similar stories it seems, Yvonne. Those of us with elderly parents, parents who have tended to block out the past only to find it creeping in when they and we least expect it.

Thanks, Yvonne.

Elisabeth said...

La Mujer libre, working in child protection in scotland, you would see this type of thing time and again as you say.

It's so very sad and leaves so many repercussions that we don't even recognise often until after the death of the perpetrators and/or their victims.


Elisabeth said...

I've written up my version of some of my sisters' memories, Jim, based on the stories they have told me. But I've always known they were not my memories.

My own memories seem much clearer to me, however limited they might be. There's this process of condensation and compression and the adding in and deleting of certain facts and details that inevitably happens. The process must turn all our memories at some level into fictions.

Still in my mind's eye there are things I know to be my experience and if anyone ever told me otherwise I think I'd be troubled by it. I'd want to defend my version.

I know what you mean by the ways in which our siblings can be so different from us and from one another. There is a view that the parents of each child within the same family are different parents, as you suggest.

In a sense your brother's parents were not your parents. They responded differently to both of you, however much they might have believed they were dealing out the same parental help.

And as for mothers who don;t love their children. It happens. there can be a bad fit between mothers and their children as there can also be a bad fit between fathers' and certain of their offspring. In some ways it's a bit of a lottery as to which parent winds up with which child and vice versa.

Thanks, Jim.

Elisabeth said...

I'm glad for helping with that connection, Michael. It's a powerful one, as you say: you found yourself falling short relative to your dead brother, John.

We can't compete with the dead. They tend to be idealised and when a child dies in childbirth or shortly thereafter they have not lived life such that they can in any way tarnish the inevitable idealised image of them.

It's therefore hard for those of us who survive to become 'angels in heaven' in our mothers' minds unless of course we too die and join the dead ones.

Thanks, Michael.

Elisabeth said...

Caty, it's lovely to see you here and I'm glad my post resonated for you in some way. Thanks. said...

raw and gourmet food for the soul..thank you

David-Glen Smith said...

In the beginning of your post I was taken in by the intense connection of the daughter/mother relationship, rand similar to my mother's sense of communication with her own mother. Glad to say that in our family the bonding process was strong.

The closing of your post, and the photograph, opened a new experience for me. We may think we know our parents, and know our children, but in the long run, we know so little of their hidden natures—

And there are matters I will need to explain to my son when he is older— question is, when.

Very thought provoking post. Thanks.

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

The story reminds me of the last few months caring for my paternal aunt who spent her life involved with my family. I was amazed at the stories I had never hears the came up in her last years. I was even more stunned when I emptied her place out after her death that she kept in touch with family that I had no idea existed. Maybe they hated my mom? I'll never know. But I'm learning that secrets seem to play a huge role in all families.
I have stopped worrying about who sleeps where 'cause I just want some rest. Phone is off and I likely would not hear a knock at the door. Thunder no longer wakes me.
Whatever happens will.

Zuzana said...

Dear Elisabeth, this is a very heavy piece, if I am getting it all correctly, your sister was abused. You have written about your family's dark history before, but it is still very difficult to comprehend, so forgive me if I am getting this all wrong.
This post for some reason brought back the sad memories I carry with me about my miscarriage. It never even was a born baby, yet I think of her or him that way and always will. Therefore I can not even imagine how it must be to bury a baby that saw the world.
We are all shaped by our experiences and what happens to us, and lot of it is less than happy, but I believe that the dark and the light balances and even each other out and I shun not away from the pain, as much as I embrace happiness.;)
Lovely read this afternoon dear friend,

Elisabeth said...

I'm glad you found the food here nourishing Dignified Expressions, and such a mixture : raw and gourmet. Thanks.

Ruth said...

I wonder if there are any wounds more deeply painful than those inflicted by parents? They seem to get infused in every cell, even in the renewal of cells, the grief is there. But it is possible to really go after it, and I appreciate so much that you do.

Your description of your mother's home took me right back to my mom's home the last 18 months of her life. And what a beautiful and intimate rite of rubbing of sorbolene even into her toes, which is more than I could have done with my mother, I'm afraid. Her hands, and legs, yes, but not her toes. This image will stay with me today.

Elisabeth said...

It can be tricky to work out when it's best to share certain details of our lives with our children, David. The risk is either we tell them too soon and overwhelm them or more likely we wait till it's too late and leave a whole lot of unfinished business after we have gone. In my view, the bonds of parents and the children go on long after death.

Thanks, David.

Elisabeth said...

Families are the repositories of secrets, Kleinstemotte, though not intentionally so. And I suspect we can all be surprised at times by the stories family members can tell years later, and their many different versions.

I wish I could be as sanguine as you about whatever happens. At times I can arrive at that state of mind but often not before I've worried the life out of something.

Thanks Kleinstemotte.

Elisabeth said...

I'm sorry that this post is a bot cryptic, Zuzana. I feared as much, though sometimes it's difficult to spell things out directly and I had wanted to convey something of my own confusion.

I'm sorry to hear that you too once suffered a miscarriage. It's not surprising you think often about that young life snatched from you too soon. He or she is still alive in your imagination and I reckon it's a good thing to cherish that memory.

Thanks, Zuzana.

Elisabeth said...

Years ago Ruth, I could not have imagined myself being able to rub sorbolene cream into my mother's toes but the experience seems to have evolved as these things do.

I agree with you that parental wounds cut the deepest. After all most of us meet our parents at a time in our lives when we are most needy and vulnerable. Our connections begin then in infancy and as a consequence we can expect far too much of our parents as they did of theirs. It tends to be a never ending cycle.
Thanks Ruth.

Mary LA said...

This post and the photograph made me think of Elizabeth Bishop's poem about being taken as a child to view little Arthur, her dead cousin laid out in the dining room, a chilling and beautiful poem. I'm sure you know it. The survivor guilt that children feel when they live and possible siblings do not.

Once when my mother was drinking, she said she had aborted a foetus when she fell pregnant before me. I'm not sure if that was true -- at the time she would have been unmarried and that must have been hard for her. I wonder if she felt I was her replacement baby?

Phoenix said...

This post, particularly the last couple sentences, hit me like a punch in the gut. I know that it's true, and your experience, but the way you tell it transcends the mundane and elevates this event into pure poetry and story-telling.

It's funny how memories work. Long after we have taken ourselves out of our own memories, they still remain, and we end up looking at them like we are looking at photographs of someone else.

Beautifully told, Elisabeth. You have such a gift for unwinding the thread of a thought and revealing an absolutely devastating bomb of truth.

(and that's a compliment.)

Anonymous said...

Having thought more about your post I realise just how many babies were lost in the course of my childhood. Cotdeaths, illness and miscarriages.
The one that sits most emotionally in the back of my mind was our next door neighbour whose 2nd son died from "hole in the heart". I remember my mother crying when she read the newspaper headlines not that long after, reporting the first successful surgery had been performed, months too late for this little one.
I am still friends with the parents and had never had need to speak to them about it until one day when I mentioned it when reminiscing with the mother. I mentioned the child by name and she beamed - almost with happiness. She didn't think I would have remembered him as I was only about 7yo at the time. I was able to tell her that I remembered him not just as a baby but a child with a name which seemed to bring him back to life for her over 40 years later.
She had a third, healthy son a few years later and says he was the most healing thing she could have done.
On other matters, I also remember feeling alienated during our infertile years, feeling that everyone around me knew a secret they weren't allowed to share with me about how to fall pregnant. I look back and realise they were all really very understanding, but just at a loss as to how and when to announce their good news.
Karen C

Elisabeth said...

Mary, I was not familiar with Elizabeth Bishop's poem First Death in Nova Scotia but I am now. What a beautiful reflection.

There are so many dead babies in our backgrounds both real and/or in our imaginations . To some extent we're all survivors but some of us more so.

Thanks, Mary.

Elisabeth said...

Thanks for your kind words, Tracy. I agree that it is possible to convert memories into something more distant that can still assert emotional truth in ways we could not were we simply to stay too close to those memories as facts of experience.

I'm pleased my words resonated with you.

Elisabeth said...

The spectre of the dead baby is everywhere, Karen, based I think on experiences of old but also on the actual threat of infant ( and maternal) mortality.

I can remember one of my GPs saying to me shortly after the birth of my third daughter that the most dangerous day of our lives is the day on which we are born. Thereafter the risks begin to fall away, until of course we grow old or, if we are boys when our chances of risk taking behaviour increase, and we are once again imperiled or so said GP argued.

It must have been ghastly to have gone through a so-called 'infertile period', Karen, and to be surrounded by all those folks falling pregnant as if effortlessly.

Pregnancy and/or the absence of pregnancy at certain times in our lives can become such a preoccupation, or so it was for me.

I'm glad it was only a period of infertility for you and not a life sentence.

Thanks, Karen

Linda Sue said...

Oh Elisabeth I am always in awe of your writing- rarely do i comment - what can I possibly say...your writing is spell binding, heart breaking but not in a sappy predictable- see- it -coming sort of break, but a surprising electrifying jolt- a shock- your life is amazing- WOW! I kiss the hem of thine garment! I just want to read you every waking moment! Your Mum...incredible the relationship and hardship. LOVE!

Jenny Woolf said...

I think the fact that she mentions it at all must mean that it is in her mind . Very difficult to deal with, in all possible ways.

Elisabeth said...

Linda Sue, thanks for your kind comments. It's hard responding to such compliments other than to blush and acknowledge my thanks.

Elisabeth said...

I agree, Jenny, the fact that my mother speaks as she does suggests that it is there somewhere in her jumbled mind, only it's hard for her to join the dots.
This applies not just now, though. I'm afraid it's always been like this. Then again, all of us tend to have our blind spots, so who am I to judge.

Thanks, Jenny.

Isabel Doyle said...

Reading this account of your visit with your mother made me think about the oblique or non-conversations I have with my own. Sometimes it feels as if there is a thick glass wall between us: we can signal to each other the basics of hand signs but we are each locked out of the other's world. It frustrates and saddens me enormously. Sometimes I think 'accept, nothing will change now' and other times I try again, vainly to smash the glass, but oh! too gently.

And then there is the hinted reverse relationship with one's daughter(s) - how I work to make sure the glass wall isn't passed down, but even now I can see the foundations are there.

Best wishes Isabel

Elisabeth said...

Isabel, you put it so beautifully: that wall between mothers and their daughters, cleaving the centre.

And I use that lovely verb 'to cleave' deliberately, to encapsulate both the sense of cleavage as in separation, a split, a rupture, alongside the sense of cleavage as adhering, cohering and clinging together

Strangely I think both opposing meanings apply.

Thanks, Isabel.

Syd said...

Denial is a hard thing to overcome, especially with the guilt of not protecting a young child from harm. Your mother probably carries a lot of guilt and the honest truth is too hard to talk about. Somethings simply hurt too much.

Elisabeth said...

I think you may be right here, Syd. My mother's life during the raising of her many children could not have been easy. The clash between my father and her religion compounded things, I suspect.

My mother often tells me she does not want to remember bad things, only good. I can understand this, however much I do not go along with it for me.

Thanks, Syd.