Recently my mother was taken to the hospital. She is 89. The doctors thought she had pneumonia, but it turned out she had taken too much of one of her medicines and had come severely dehydrated. I had not seen her for about six months. Until then I had been, or tried to be, the dutiful daughter, caring, yearning to make her life better — I think in the desperate hope that she would turn finally into the soft, loving, accepting mother who filled my fantasies. But last July, the tensions between us had become so stressful that my health was being affected and I decided I had to make a long overdue separation. It was difficult. I wasn’t sure I could resolve my issues with her before she died. I did not know if I would ever see her again.
At first, when I heard she was in the hospital, I felt little emotion. Both my sister and brother, who are very supportive of this separation, assured me I didn’t have to go see her. They would take care of her. But the following afternoon, I found myself driving to the hospital. I was not a decision I consciously made. My car, it seemed, was driving me there.
I walked into her hospital room, heart pounding. She was sleeping and as I walked by the foot of her bed, my fingers reached out to tickle her toes. No response. As I stood by her side, I gently tickled the palm of her hand.
She opened her eyes, focused and then looked at me in disbelief that quickly turned to wonder. “You’re here!” she said softly. “Emmy…”
I leaned over and kissed her. Her cheek was soft and warm. I sat beside her and held her hand. Although she was “not there” all the time, she was for a lot of the time, and her joy at seeing me was lovely. We chatted and laughed. Then, totally unprompted, she announced, “I can’t change, you know.”
“Yes, I know,” I said. “But I can change. I’m working on changes within me.”
She nodded and fell silent. It was a comfortable silence and, again, unprompted, she said, “I read what you sent me.”
Recently, I had sent her some pages from my new website, Creative Soul Works. I sent it along with a photograph of myself and my dog, Phoebe.
“Did you like them?” I asked, knowing, amazingly, that I would feel comfortable even if she were critical.
She said, “I had to read the pages a few times, and I’m not certain I understood it all, but I liked them.” She was quiet again, and after a few moments said, “This spiritual part has always been in you and isn’t it interesting that it is now coming out in such a fashion.”
Wow! That was amazing for her. No judgmental criticism!
Then a chaplain came into the room. He asked if he could sit with us a while. We said, yes, of course. My mother began talking, not making apparent sense, but I knew what she meant. She was talking about a woman where she lives who held Friday night spiritual gatherings and my mother always loved going. The woman is dying of cancer and my mother misses her. Visit
After a while, the chaplain asked if he could say a prayer. He and I stood by my mother’s bed and he held both our hands and I held my mother’s hand, said a lovely prayer and left. It was lovely, unexpected, mysterious and perfect. I left her soon after feeling content and safe being my mother’s daughter for the first time in a very, very, very long time.