Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Quest of the Goose

The days following my mother's death have been turbulent. I have struggled to keep my balance; it has not been easy and I've failed miserably sometimes.

But such is the way of it. Grief knows no bounds, it is very like the waves of Ocean that crash to the beach. Some waves are bigger than others, and they must be ridden out. During the first few days, the waves are usually large, dark and stormy, full of debris.

As time goes on, those waves grow slower, gentler...more accepting. And here is where I find some serenity, when my heart has ridden out those destructive first waves of grief.

Early this morning, before Sun had risen over the treetops, Goose flew over, at the head of a long V formation. Wings tipped with gold, from Sun that had not yet shown his face to the rest of us, Grandmother Goose led the flock to the West...the place of rebirth on the Medicine Wheel. The West direction tells me of my responsibility to all things...and to each other. West is the direction of Wisdom.

It is a week since my mother died. As I sat on my stoop, in the early Morning stillness, I sent blessings with Goose...and thanked her for her message.

Grandmother Goose teaches how to navigate great turbulence in life. She tells me it is time for an inner quest, one where I learn, once again, that I can change nothing in others, only in myself. It is a difficult lesson for me to learn, seemingly, since I am caught up in it consistently.

She tells me of loyalty and how sometimes, loyalty can blind me to the true facts. She's also telling me this is all part of the journey of life; that I have the tools and abilities to make it through.

And suddenly, my intuition tells me I do.

It is a blinding realization.

Have I ever entered any traumatic situation as well-balanced and with as many tools as I have been given in this one? Recognizable tools?

I think I am making progress. I think my studies of messages given from the Universe are bearing fruit. Fruit that is still in the ripening stage, granted; however, I have faced family disruption these last few days with relative calm.

Families that lose the last surviving parent can go into free fall, I was told by a nurse last week. Instead of pulling together, siblings tear each other apart. That is the situation that occurred in my family last week. But it was not just my mother's death that brought about the strife, which is not new...it has always been thus.

Will that last unfortunate blowout be the end of it? I don't think so. I think each member of my family still wants to be heard, wants to be validated. I think each sibling is still clamouring for Mom's attention. And I think my mother wanted it that way, during her convoluted life.

My mother and I grew close, during the last couple of years. We grew close because I would not get involved in the strife that fueled my Mom and her daughters; I would change the subject, talk about other things. In that way, I made a conscious decision to ignore the bad and embrace the good about my mother.

My mother gradually realized the error of her ways, when she entered the Care Residence. She then had contact with others who did not believe in stirring strife in family members, for attention and diversion. But for my mother, that epiphany came too late...after a lifetime of pushing painful buttons in each daughter, only distrust met her overtures of love and apology.

And it seems only distrust remains.

But it is early days yet. My eternal flame of optimism lets me fantasize that her daughters will see that Mom tried, towards the end of her life, to walk a loving, gentle path, instead of the torturous, mountainous route she had chosen most of her life. Unfortunately, she made a Will, in an angry state, that continues to fuel the fray...one that controls generations not yet born. One that pits children against parents, one that will continue to remind her family of a mother that used control and anger and manipulation to bring her daughters in line.

Hours before her death, she asked me to write a book about her...Make them understand, she said. It is an enormous request, one that will take me on a journey that will follow my mother's life, one that will take me into a tortured mind.

And at the end of it, perhaps I will understand.

Grandmother Goose, with her message of the great quest to come, tells me I will.

16 comments:

  1. Marion, I am so sorry for your loss. Please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers.

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  2. I would imagine that you will be very busy with this task. Sometimes writing about things is very good therapy.

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  3. Please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers, Marion. I know your mom would be immensely proud of how you've chosen to remember her life and carry forward her lessons.

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  4. This is a beautifully crafted post. I'm reminded of the phrase "parents are something to be overcome" and so often that seems to be true. Your mother seems to have been very cruel towards her daughters but I wonder if the root of how she behaved lay in the shortcomings of her own parents? And did those parents - your grandparents - suffer in turn at the hands of their own parents perhaps? Problems can be passed down many generations, each passing on their own hangups to their children.

    Only with our generation, perhaps, have a lot of us had access to the necessary information and enough freedom from all-consuming toil to allow us to break that cycle. Now, through this great project which your mother has suggested, you may be able to help your sisters to break it too.

    It seems to me, though, that you should not feel obliged to take this project on if you do not want to. It will take up a great deal of your time and energy. You seem to have given a great deal to your mother already and I am not sure that she had the right to demand such a thing of you. If you do wish to take it on, however, it will indeed be a noble task and I can only wish you the very best of luck in bringing it to fruition.

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  5. i have no words... just my prayers. *hugs*

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  6. Miss T,

    I really appreciate your words of comfort. Thank you, my friend.

    Davem,

    For me, every time life throws a curve, I write about it. It seems the written word takes the angst out of my soul and puts them elsewhere to be dissected. It is indeed very good therapy!

    Carmi,

    Don't know if she's proud of me or not...she hid that part well throughout her life; yet she told others she was proud of her daughters. I guess all I can do is remember the lessons I have learned and apply them with compassion.

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  7. Simon, thank you for your well-thought out comment. Wondering about the whys, hows and wherefores of behaviour is how I approach the issue.

    I decided, many years ago, to change my learned behaviours...the stuff you learn around the kitchen table as you grow...because it wasn't fitting in with what I read about how families can interact with each other. I learned to look at things later in life from the adult POV, rather than the child's.

    I don't know that I can change my sister's perception of mother; they have their own rows to hoe.I'll be the first to admit that my perception of Mom may be coloured by my idealism.

    And you are so right about the 'deathbed promises'. But I had already started to write my mother's story and understood myself enough to know I had to finish it.

    For that matter, Mom demanded...that was the way she was, lol! She did this in such a soft and gentle way, but there was steel in her voice. But I don't know that it will be a book; I don't know that it is BELIEVABLE, even if I know that it is true. lol.

    I loved my Mom and miss her with all my heart. She had so many great points, so much strength and courage and backbone. The good and the bad made up the whole...she was a fascinating person who lived an extraordinary life.

    And in examining it, I'll take a deep trip into my own psyche.

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  8. Alison,

    Thank you...the words you used mean so much.

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  9. Nothing like her leaving you with a quest! Guess that was her way of assurring that she wouldn't be forgotten.
    You are lucky to have such a helpful understanding of the world to guide you. Peace

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  10. Marion, I know it must be hard now. Your words about change, though, are wonderful. Once we stop trying to change others, we are happier and so are they and I think we can each enjoy the positive.

    The thing I regret most about my relationship with my mother was that we never had the kind of deep conversations like you and your mother apparently did. I should have tried.

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  11. It would take some time and research, but a life story for the family could be brief, hitting the main points. I recently came across a journal my mom wrote about her childhood during the depression. It helped me a great deal in understanding my maternal grandmother (with whom I crossed wires sometimes as a teen and young adult) in a whole new light. It also helped me learn more about my maternal grandfather, who died before I was born. It's a precious gift to leave the next generation -- even if they don't appreciate it at first but come across it later when they're feeling more receptive to such things.

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  12. Goatman,

    Lol! Isn't that just like mothers, me included, quite possibly! Very wise comment, thank you!

    Sheila,

    My Mom was bedridden for most of the last couple of years. Therefore, she was a captive audience, so to speak. It was an opportunity I took very consciously; I didn't like the feelings I had towards her at one time and wanted to see if I could learn the root cause. I'm so glad I did.

    Barbara,

    What an incredible find! I recently came across a journal I kept when I was 12. Small snippets, but they remind me of my home life as if it was yesterday.

    I have written books previously; I know the process, although I haven't submitted any anywhere. When I write, I understand. Events that are muddy become clearer and emotions flow.

    And it is never a chore. It is my way of learning. So, you see, the thought of writing a book might make others shudder; but me... I would have done it anyway, lol.

    Perhaps, one day, a grandchild or great great great grandchild might read my books and learn that we are all human and our mistakes and joys are not so different after all.

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  13. The death of the last parent is always fraught with extra estate settling chores. At least, as an only child, I didn't have to deal with siblings!! I've seen this sort of bitterness brought on by a will for myself, as my FIL did not ever speak to his brother again after the reading of his Mother's will. He didn't even go to his funeral. My DH and I were the only members of that side of the family that did attend. We just refused to get pulled into the bad blood.

    It's a shame your mother's health and mind deteriorated too much for her to be able to change that angry will. That can do generation changing damage, if your sisters let it. I'm sure you won't.

    I continue to think about you and keep you in my prayers. Your visits to my blog are all the more appreciated, because I have some understanding of what you are going through.

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  14. It is always a difficult time when you lose a loved one Marion. I'm truly sorry for your loss. Unfortunately sometimes family members can make the situation even more difficult to come to terms with. It's a true saying that you can choose your friends but unfortunately you can't choose your family. I'm sure it will be good therapy for you to put your thoughts down on paper Marion. It's a good release to let our some of your emotions and feelings at this difficult time. Take care of yourself.

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  15. I hadn't read your blog for some time and decided to check out your thoughts on mom's death.

    It is very well written and certainly truthful. You described our mother the way she was all through her life and the changes she tried to make at the end. Outside of you, no one else but myself seemed to see that. I know I tried to tell other family members many times in the last few months that mom was changed, she had become more gentle and I had some really good visits with mom the last few months. I am really glad that happened. I know she knew I was there at the end and I hope that helped to give her some peace.

    I am not as accepting of another world beyond this one as you are. I want to believe but part of me is still sceptical. As said to you before though, I feel her around me all the time and think of her continuously. If indeed she has not moved on I hope she can make peace with herself and move forward. I have certainly forgiven her for any wrongdoing perceived or otherwise on her part as it pertains to myself and my family.

    We all try to do the best we can with the tools we have. Sometimes we succeed and quite often we fail and it is certainly easier to put the blame on someone else rather than yourself. Mom did what she did, we all chose different ways to deal with it. Some of us are able to let go and others will take the resentment to their graves.

    Many times over the years I have told M that mom could only do what she did, if we let her. We cannot hold mom responsible for the things we didn't do to make changes we need to take responsibility for ourselves. Some of us never will but hopefully maybe somewhere they can get past it. In order to be truly happy again that needs to happen.

    There is a part of mom in all of us and without constant care and attention we all seem to have the potential to go the same way. We have an opportunity not to perpetuate the same mistakes but somehow we just cannot seem to get there and carry on the old destructive, hurtful ways.

    Will our family ever heal itself again or will we all drift apart and go our separate ways. I don't know. I guess the eternal optimist in me tells me to wait and see and hope that some healing takes place. I truly don't know if it will and I don't know if I have the energy left to make that happen.

    I am at peace with mom and Eggi and I miss them. Write that book, I know I would like to read it.

    Thank you for being there for me, take care

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  16. DB,

    Please forgive me for being so late in answering your comment...it's been a very upside-down time.

    I am so glad you decided not to perpetuate the bad blood...that it stopped with you. In so doing, you stopped it for your children, too.

    I learned so much from your blog, during your Daddy's last months. It helped immensely during a really lost time for me. Thank YOU!

    Naomi,

    Thank you for understanding. Writing about a life crisis helps me understand so much about myself. Seeing my thoughts in print, right there on the paper in front of me,in a cold, clear light, gives me the ability to understand where I've gone wrong or right. It is my most valued tool.

    R,

    Thanks for commenting! Forgiveness was one of the most difficult concepts for me to understand when I was in AA. I did not WANT to understand it, for awhile.

    I couldn't understand why I had to forgive whoever it was, when they had hurt me so badly, had changed my way in life, had landed me there, in AA!

    Mom thought stubbornness was a virtue. She admired it. She'd passed that on to me. I held on to things with an iron tight fist...and I would say, when queried, that I was stubborn, said with pride. And thinking...Mom would be proud of me for holding on to this.

    It took a few years, but I learned how wonderful it feels to forgive, how great it is when love enters my heart, chasing out the dark piles of garbage previously residing there.

    If I can do it, anyone can.

    Keep going with the flow, R...sounds like some great soul searching going on! And Mom will be here for awhile yet, there's still too much unfinished business.

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