I took a picture of my mom at Halloween, just 9 days before she had her stroke at the ripe old age of 63.
I love this picture and I'm glad that I was the one to take it. It's kind of like a little gift we gave each other before I was called up for dragon slaying duty. I can see the best of my mom in it. Her sense of humor, her willingness to let her children mock her when necessary for their own amusement, her enjoyment of life, her laughter, her love of people...
So where are the dragons?
Everywhere! The trick was sorting out the real ones from the ones in my head.
You see, my mom and I have had a long history. Nearly 43 years of it as a matter of fact. And before you go jumping on the bandwagon of "let the past be the past" let me stop you and just say that IT IS! But the past is also context to understand the course of our relationship, so I have to begin there in order to do the dragons justice.
My mother either has the ideal concept of motherhood or the most distancing concept. Maybe the concept was right on but it was the execution that was distancing. I'm still mulling that over.
In a nutshell, her belief is that mothers are simply portals to bring new souls into the world to work out their karmic journey.
Now, I could fill a book (and probably will) with all the stories, funny, tragic and everything in between about what being raised by someone with this perspective was like.
The bottom line for my purposes here is that it was distancing.
"Good luck with that karmic journey, kids, let me know how it turns out for you. Meanwhile, I'll just be over here working on mine. I just can't be there for you right now. I'm sure you'll understand. I mean, I have my own life to deal with..."
My mom's journey...it has made me crazy more times than I can count (in the past week alone!). It's what landed her in the hospital. It's also what earned her Superhero props from me.
My mother has never apologized for being who she is.
And my God, have we wanted her to.
My mother has made choices that have been so self-destructive at times (like not taking her blood pressure medicine even after 2 hospitalizations for hypertension and having a father who had his first stroke of many at age 64) that we have been astounded and baffled. How an intelligent woman can be so dumb is beyond our comprehension.