To Love or Be Loved, or Not…

Yesterday, my best friend lost her mother. She was 95 years old and had not been enjoying a normal life for some time. She and Teresa were not close. Teresa was with me when she received a call from her son. At the time she just told me she was relieved. Her emotions were more tied to the reactions of her son than of her own feelings and her son had seen his Grandmother just a few weeks before so wasn’t surprised at her passing. He was handling things well. There were no tears. We continued practicing hula for a performance the next day.

This morning when I saw Teresa I saw she looked tired and was having a difficult time holding tears in check. Trying to comfort her, I told her that I guess no matter what was in the past, when you lost your mother, no matter the relationship, you have to honor the fact that without her you would not be here. She looked at me with a sadness in her eyes and said, “No, the sadness is not from the loss of my mother, but a sadness of knowing that during my entire life I was never loved by her.

I knew she had endured a tumultuous life, was frequently beaten,  locked in closets, pushed down stairs, screamed at, told she should never have been born. So, having this childhood it was no wonder she was ready to marry at age 17 where she received the love she so longed for. Unfortunately, her husband died after only a couple of years and she was left alone to raise her son. She did this with a lot of love and devotion, something she had not felt from her family. And, she didn’t begrudge her son a relationship with the grandmother that adored him.

This got me to thinking about feeling loved. I grew up in a family where I felt loved every day. I had the idyllic childhood of the 50’s. My father worked, my mom was a housewife and spent a great deal of time playing with my sister and I. She played jacks with us, did cartwheels with us, made paper dolls, taught us to dance and to sew. We were not held to a very high standard when it came to school grades so I, therefore, was not a great student, more of a social butterfly, which seemed be the standard I was held to. As long as I was pretty and popular I would do fine. I was never spanked, never yelled at and never expected to do anything like cooking, cleaning, ironing, washing, etc. This was my mom’s “poi bowl” and we were not to encroach on her territory. I was terribly unprepared for being on my own, but managed. But, I always felt loved. I can’t even imagine how my life would have turned out had I had a childhood like Teresa’s. Would I have had the fortitude to get past my past? Would I have even known how to love? I like to think I would have, that somehow love would find a way in as it did into Teresa’s heart.

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6 thoughts on “To Love or Be Loved, or Not…

  1. I can appreciate this honest and heartfelt snapshot of two contrasting childhoods. I was just talking with a friend today about how we are not able to pick our parents … we can only hope we will be loved. Some parents fall miserably, tragically short, but their children don’t have to …

  2. Teresa is pretty amazing. She is quite beautiful so when young she did a lot of modeling and TV so was able to put her son through a private school education and a good college education. He is very successful so she didn’t allow her past to effect his future. And, he was very close to his Grandmother. I guess as you said we cannot choose our parents, but we can choose what kind of parent we will be.

  3. This was powerful and very thought provoking, Kiihele. I can’t believe I didn’t open this yesterday!
    I was one of those kids not loved,by my father anyway. He loved only himself. I don’t say that with bitterness but with matter-of-factness.
    My mom was emotionally absent. She was busy experiencing her own abuse from my father, though none of us knew it then. We now have a fine relationship, and my father passed away some time ago.
    I still have trouble believing that I am really loved by people, though God has blessed me in my 2nd marriage with a tender and loving husband, 2 great kids and 2 wonderful and loving grandchildren. Our kids used to get upset with us because every day we would tell them that we loved them, but neither my husband nor I heard that growing up, and we were determined that our children would.
    Love is a choice we make, and I have learned that with God’s help and His model of what real love is, I can love like the best of them!
    I ache when I see others who don not feel loved, and especially when I see children being treated un-lovingly, but I can do my small part to put a little more love into this world.

  4. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to feel unloved by your parents. My Dad and I didn’t really know each well as he worked nights and I went to school days, so only say him in passing. My younger sister was a natural horseback rider from the time she was about six and was the Calif. state champion in Gymkhana by the time she was 13 or 14. I enjoyed riding, but was not nearly as good as Tina, so she was my Dad’s baby. he took such great pride in her accomplishments. I think my Mom sort of showed favor to me to make up for that. But, I always felt loved by both. When my sister died at age 26, I don’t think my father ever got over that. He had a devastating stroke at 72 and at 75 with his health fading fast, the last thing he whispered to my Mom was, “I’m going to see Tina, aren’t I?” She told him yes and he let go.

    • There’s another powerful story. I am sure that it is natural for parents to relate better to one child than another. I know I did that with my 2 since one had a temperament that I connected with and one was so opposite me that I was often perplexed about just what made he tick. But loving was equal!
      Growing up on a small farm, riding horses was my wonderful escape. I never entered any show, though I was in 4-H.

  5. I never understand why some people can’t love their kids. sometimes parents show more love to one kid than the other kids. But, hating the kid…blaming the kid for the difficulties in the life….May be her mother had some mental issues, which were not correctly diagnosed and treated.
    Hope, Teresa is in the company of caring friends like you. I wish her all the love in the world.
    Nice writing. keep up the work

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