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Friday, 24 July 2009

She Never Loved You

By Jeanne Waite Follett

She never loved you, you know.

Well, maybe right at first she did. Maybe she felt like she had to because mothers are supposed to love their children. But two weeks later when Pearl Harbor was bombed, that’s when the trouble started. That’s when all those opportunities became available for women. Maybe - if not for you - she would have been a pilot ferrying war materiel around the globe. Or, something else adventuresome, something beyond Rosie the Riveter.

But no. She was stuck at home with a crying, puking, milk-processing machine that couldn’t do a darn thing for itself. Yeah, yeah, she took lots of pictures, certainly more than she ever took of your later siblings.

She never loved you, you know. Resented you, more likely.

Remember Norman in third grade? Remember what happened when one day he wouldn’t walk home from school with you. You thought someone liked you and then he didn’t. When you reached home, you sat outside and cried - didn’t go in the house. She came out with a basket of wet laundry said, “What are you crying about now?”

“I lost my boyfriend,” you said.

“Oh, for Pete’s sakes,” she said. “Quit your crying and go in the house.” Then she went on to more important things - hanging the laundry on the line.

She never loved you, you know. You should have known by then.

Remember the college fiasco? When she noticed all the college catalogs and told you they couldn’t afford to send you to college? And when the scholarship winners were printed in the newspaper and she asked why you hadn’t won any? You told her you hadn’t applied because she’d already said they couldn’t afford it.

“Oh, for Pete’s sakes,” she answered. “You KNOW we could have come up with the money somehow.”

She never loved you, you know.

Remember the kiss on your cheek at your high school graduation? Remember how awkward it was for both of you? First time you can remember her touching you, except for the slaps across the face, that is. But, maybe she thought that criticism was a way of holding you back from rushing headlong into one escapade after another, and encouragement would only have increased your speed.

So, with all those clues, what was all that about when the doctors pulled the plug on the life support system and she was struggling to breathe on her own? You fled the room, sat in the waiting area with tears running down your face as if every drop of moisture in your body was escaping through your tear ducts. What the heck was that about?

Because, she never loved you.

Many years later, your youngster sister says, “She loved you the most, you know. You were the first born. We always knew she loved you the most.”

[EDITORIAL NOTE: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post

Comments

Loved your story. Mom is away now & I'm looking after her house and garden. I choke up every time I walk through her living room and see all the family photos on top of the piano. The hardest room to walk into, is her bedroom. She's been a widow since the 70's and still sleeps in the same bed. Her dresser has all sorts of perfume bottles. I feel her loneliness in that room with every step I take. I want her to live forever. There were times when she disapproved of my actions, and didn't speak to me, but that's all gone now as we are best friends. I don't know how it will be without her.

I'm bawling now, just writing this. Thanks for your story.

Thank you Jeanne! A powerful piece of writing. I liked the repetition of the phrase & was hoping for a positive ending.

This is another example of your wonderful gift of writing. And, the subject is one I am most familiar with. You have done it well.
A student of Eva

Jeanne,
My mother redeemed herself in my eyes when I was older and a struggling divorced mother of four. My mother helped me then emotionally and financially with the little she had. But when I was a child, I felt that she didn’t love me. She was a “good” mother to her six children, a thin nervous person who was always busy. She who was not affectionate towards me. Apparently I was a difficult youngster whom she described as always either crying or climbing. When I turned out to be quiet and undemanding of her, she never let me forget what she went through with me. I remember when I was about five and a bee stung me, I ran in the house crying. Her response was “You should come that quickly all the time when I call you.” Thank heavens that my father was different. He was a strong man, a Golden Gloves boxer in his youth and a master gasfitter/plumber, who hugged his kids, taught us how to play cards, laughed at our jokes, sang, recited nursery rhymes, and read the newspaper funnies and books to us. My laid-back, easy-going father was easy to love. In my old age, I realize that my mother was a product of her genetic makeup and the way she was brought up. In my old age, I know now that she loved me and that I loved her. She’s been gone now for more than twenty years and I miss her very much.

Mother - daughter relationships are always hard. I hope my children always knew that I loved them, but there were times when I am sure they doubted it.

Your story is bittersweet and told well.

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