My Mother died Sept 17, 2013 surrounding by family while a recording of her singing “Somewhere over the Rainbow” played. Death wasn’t new to me. I watched my husband die in July of 2007. A nightmare of a night that broke me and my children. My Mom’s death was peaceful and I’m grateful that I got to be there to witness her transition.
We all cried that night. All my children surrounded me with love and compassion as I watch my own mother slip away. Our family believes in an afterlife so we all rejoiced at the reunion she was having on the other side yet grieving for those still left here on earth.
The next few days as we were planning the funeral, my brothers and I got together and started reminiscing about our mother. Wonderful stories they told, happy memories, loving memories. I looked at them and said…”We obviously had different mothers” and I found myself with an enormous sense of relief. Relief that I wouldn’t have to hear my mother criticize me anymore.
Sure there were good times with my mother and I loved her but what stands out in my memory are the criticism and the hateful comments directed at me. I was too thin, I needed to lose weight, I was too pale, I had too much make up on, I was frumpy. She didn’t like my new haircut, so I grew it out, she didn’t like that either. My hair was too straight, so I got a perm. Now it was too curly. I never received praise for the paintings I did. There was always a criticism about what I painted. I once painted a cantaloupe in a painting and she made the comment that nobody would buy a painting with a cantaloupe in it. Stupid little statements that were like a stone added to the weight that I already carried. I was in my late 30’s when my mother said to me one day, “Why Elizabeth, I didn’t realize how pretty you are”. I’m sure she meant it as a compliment but what I heard her say is that she never thought I was pretty. The heaviest stone she made me carry was the day she told me I was a horrible mother because my children didn’t walk the path that in her mind was the only path. I found that statement so ironic since 3 of her children didn’t walk the same path either but she didn’t see the hypocrisy or the hurt that statement caused. It’s one that has haunted me since that day.
Now comes the yellow dish story. My mother loved all things yellow. She had a yellow sink, yellow chairs, yellow couch, and a set of yellow dishes that rarely got used. She and her husband Ed, took a trip to England and there she found the yellow cabbage set of dishes complete with a soup terrine and a dip plate. I can remember when she first showed them to me. She was so excited and they made her so happy because they were yellow. Years later when we knew death was near I asked if I could have the yellow dish set when they passed. I wanted a tangible thing that reminded me of how happy my mom was with those dishes. I never really got an answer from her. I asked several times throughout the years. She always reverted to saying it was Ed’s decision since he was the one that bought them. The yellow dish set ended up in the estate sale when they were both gone. I could have bought them from the estate but that wasn’t the point. I wanted my mother to give me something. Give me something from a place of love and respect.