Thursday, April 22, 2010

Old Familiar Places

Today would have been my mother, Henri's, 84th birthday. It's hard to imagine that she's been gone for nearly 4 years, and my father has been gone for nearly 8 years.

It must be my work that causes this, but I'm much more sensitive to birthdays and anniversaries of loved ones I've lost. On my father's birthday, April 6th, I was doing a start of care and couldn't think of anyone else except my own father. It was hard to be or stay in the moment. I was busy that day and had little time for reflection.

I've been thinking about my mom a lot this past week. She wasn't the easiest person to get along with, but that's often a two way street. Though we had weighty political discussions, she on the far right and me swinging to the left, we often glossed over saying the important things. It wasn't that I couldn't handle them. She couldn't. We never went where we should have with our times together (minefields can be dangerous). I never really thanked her, or forgave her for her motherly mistakes and I never asked her for forgiveness for the things I may have done to hurt her. I'm sorry for avoiding these discussions now because I can't change this.

Henrietta was a handful after my father passed away. What my newly hospice educated eyes now see is that she was grieving and at a complete loss without my dad around. She outlived him by four lonely years. When she died, my sister and I found a journal she had started and a few letters she'd written to my dad. It broke my heart to read her entries and to think that she could not discuss her feelings with us, though at times I think she tried. Certainly, she was someone who would have benefitted from professional bereavement support. Hindsight.

I've reflected quite a bit this week on forgiveness and letting go of feelings and hurts that go back 50 years, but to honor her, this is exactly what I'm working on. I'm thankful for the things she did give me: a work ethic, a moral compass, a love of music, ballroom dance, sports in general and hockey.

I've made a conscious effort to replace how she looked as she lay dying in her hospital bed with more positive memories. I much prefer the snapshot in my mind of her sitting around the piano bar of the St. Clair Inn and singing songs of old with my dad and their friends. This time of the year, she'd have been glued to the television watching playoff hockey and her beloved Detroit Red Wings.

Happy Birthday, Henri. You are missed.

This one's for you:


17 comments:

The Crusty Crone said...

A thought provoking post. Thx for sharing your experience(s). I suspect many people can relate.

Miss 376 said...

Much better to remember the good times. It will be eleven years this year since my mum died and some anniversarys are harder than others.

Stephanie V said...

Your post made me remember when my Dad was in hospital and we had such long talks about his life journey so far - and what was next.
My Mom died too young and too suddenly for that kind of conversation.
There are still things left unsaid either way. Thanks for the song - it was one of my parents' favorites, too.

Brenda said...

I bet you feel her presence when you watch hockey. Funny thing I noticed about myself lately is that I am really starting to look like my Mom, where I never thought I did when she was living. I like your Mom's name.

clairedulalune said...

Ahh Rudee, I can relate. It is I find, one of the hardest things to say, the unsaid things especially in your own family. The good times will shine through eventually. Your song choice was quite haunting for me, as it always reminds me of my mum for reasons unknown these days, but that it the song that triggers the memories. Funny old world eh?

Silliyak said...

Forgiveness (for yourself and others) is the gift you give yourself. And you are very worthy of it.

Rose said...

I havent' had to go through that yet but I'm trying to minimize the regrets I know I will have. Good thoughts your way.

Anonymous said...

Mom's birthday....Just Like Dads went by so fast; We have been so busy that I almost missed them and like you didn't make time to reflect...

I have many fond memories of Henu; she loved St. Clair; yes the Friday nights at the River Crab or St. Clair Inn. Saturday mornings at the hair dressers.

Who can forget your wonderful birthday dinner when the cole slaw flashed itself over the table when it suddenly found itself in the garbage.

She loved a good fight;(just ask the cole slaw). She lived for the banter. Dad would start the fight, turn the hearing aid off and Henu would finish it.

She loved Detroit sports. It really didn't matter how bad the Redwings were, and they were bad in the late 60's and 70's;she would watch almost every game. Suddenly out of no where Fred Wake UP theres a Fight. Common theme with the fight?

She also was great card player. Played Gin, Pinnocle extremely well. She would give Dad fits....
Maybe it was that getting under the skin thing that she so loved todo.......

I miss them both!!!

FTM

Renie Burghardt said...

I never knew my mother. She died when I was just 3 weeks old, at the age of 19. So all my life I've wondered about her. Her mother, my dear grabdmother, was a wonderful substitute mother, yet...I will always wonder.

You have honored your mother, Rudee. And Moonlight Serenade is beautiful.

Big Hugs,

Renie

Joanna said...

Rudee, you just remember her at her best. That's what she is now. And I believe that if you're thinking of her she knows it and can feel your love.

jeannette said...

Remember Henrietta's generation: they were not used to talk about their feelings -one had to tough it out (on one's own) - so be kind and forgive yourself too, my dear friend on these kind of anniversaries and do something good for yourself that day!

debra said...

Blogger ate my comment :-/
I have also lost both of my parents and am a member of the same club---that of the Adult Orphan---one that no one wants to join, and you can never leave. Sending you love...

sapphireblue said...

I know there are several things that I should have said to my mom before she died, but her mind was gone long before that.

The older I get, the more I look like her.

Jane said...

Thanks for the reminder to say all those things now while I have the chance. Flying to England to visit my mother in 8 weeks time!

Jackie said...

My mother,Phyllis birthday was on the 15th of April We use to kid her that she was born on income tax day. She would have been 91.
I came from Virginia to Florida for several reasons, one being to go to the cemetery on her birthday.

Kathleen said...

Our relationships with our mothers are so complicated, aren't they? Some people never make peace, even after their loved ones are long gone. I admire you for your fearless reflection. I think it does a soul good to do just that. Genuine forgiveness is so liberating. But it takes a bit to get their, imho. You're awesome, Rudee. Thank you Henri for giving us Rudee. I am grateful for both of you.

Ruth said...

Images are so hard to remove from your mind sometimes we cannot remove those that we wish to - hard as we try to find different images. Aniversarys are hard but give us opportunity to reflect and remember and celebrate what once was.
Take care and rejoyce in the good things