Saturday, November 2, 2013

Day of the Dead

I went to my first Death Cafe last night. It was auspicious that it was the first day of November, a day traditionally known as All Soul's Day, a day to remember those who have died because the veil between the dead and the living is said to be its thinnest. In the past I have celebrated this day with a classroom full of students, bringing pictures of dear departed ones, lighting candles and saying a few words of remembrance.
Last night was the first time I have done this with adults. It was lovely, and poignant, and true. Although I went there to honour my father and my aunt, the person that kept coming to me was my mother.

I rarely dream about any of those close to me who have died. I perhaps have dreamt about my mother once, maybe twice. My father, once, maybe twice. My aunt not at all. I wish it was different.

But it came to me yesterday that I have to let it go. I have to let go of the disappointment I have in my mother and her style of mothering. I have to let it go. It isn't about forgiveness. I am not there yet. It isn't about forgetting, because I am clearly not there yet. But as I write this it is just about letting go.

My mother and I had some lovely times together. A trip to Hawaii when I graduated from university. Many, many morning coffees in the backyard chatting about this and that. Some crazy nightclubs where we were more friends than mother and daughter.

She could be lovely and kind to those in need: next door neighbours, shopkeepers, restaurant owners. She was lovely with my children. She volunteered for March of Dimes, and at the Jericho School for the blind. She was an ear when her friends needed to talk.

My friends loved her. Her and her home-made soups and homemade bread. She could be outrageous and had a naughty sense of humour. She had beautiful eyes. And hair.

My father loved her. That in itself should be enough for me.

I chose her to be my mother for a myriad of reasons that I will not remember until I once again cross the threshold from this life to the next.

She came here to do what she was meant to do. It is not my place to understand it all. It is not my place to forgive it, or forget it. It is my place to learn from the struggles I had and continue to have, with my relationship to her. Even though she has been dead for nine years I still struggle and still wish that it had been different.

But, as the saying goes, "If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride".

I will try to stop wishing, and try to stop worrying about not being able to forgive and forget, and just let it go.

And remember the good times. Remember her in light and understanding. And promise to learn from the lessons my relationship with her is continuing to teach me about being human.


  1. I had to do that with my dad. First I had to recognize that there was anger. Then I had to let myself feel it. That took a while with a therapist crying and ranting. I finally came to forgiveness. I realized that he had done his best with what had been given to him.
    I wrote him a letter. I told him that I'd been angry but that was gone. I said thank you, telling him the things he had given me that I cherish. And I managed to get the letter to him a couple years before he died. He never responded. I wasn't sure if he'd received it.
    After his funeral, I talked to my step mom and asked if he'd ever read the letter. She said he carried it with him folded in his wallet and read it to anyone who held still long enough to listen. And he never told me. But that was my dad and I forgive him for that too.
    My brothers still carry the anger. It doesn't affect him anymore but it sure affects them.
    I hope you can get through the disappointment and the anger and come to acceptance and understanding. It makes life so much lighter.

  2. Mothers.... having one, being one, and now watching my children being mothers themselves.... brings out the best and the worst in ourselves. It's the way it's always been. Mothers, myself included, have a way with daughters that can affect us deeply. I vowed to hug my girls more than I was hugged and to tell them I love them every time I see them or as a farewell on the phone. I'm sure they'll do things differently, on purpose, from me. I'll always remember those nights at El Burro with your mom and Aunt G. They were both good to me. You can remember that about them too. xo Carole


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