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.