May 20, 2012

Dear Dead Mother,

I really want to talk to you.

You are intimately close to me yet so far away.  You are both real and imaginary.  I’m convinced that I know you in the deepest, most secret ways yet I don’t know you at all.  I once read that the way a mother shows her own children affection is directly linked to the experience she had as a child.  What she felt as an infant in her mother’s arms, what rocking, all-consuming cuddles she knew to expect (or not) in the nighttime when she cried out, she gives her own.

I have two daughters.  You have two granddaughters.  Oh how I think of you when I rock them in my arms and wrap them with everything in me.  Sometimes I get angry because you are not here to love them.  For so many years — thirty-one, to be exact — you have not been here to love me either.  I hear stories of your sisters going on vacations with their grown children.  What would we do on vacation together?  What would I do if you sat across from me in my own home and said something to me about who I am, who I aim to be, what I have done, and what I haven’t?  Would we think many of the same things, or would we have trouble understanding each other?  Would you accept my decision to distance myself from my father?

If the theory about a mother’s affection is right, I have all the evidence I need of the realness of the love you once had for me.  It was a physical love.  When my oldest daughter, who is almost eight-years-old, was a newborn and I sat with her alone, I discovered what it must have felt like to be held by you.  She and her sister — in our most intimate moments together — have helped me to find/shape/create (who knows?) a memory of being a daughter, one who was taken care of, caressed, and gazed upon.


[Mom and me, circa 1977]

I am here now and you are not.  Your third granddaughter will be born in a few months.  I really want to talk to you.



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