You know she did. You probably knew it when she did it. Or at least, once you became a grown adult and looked back.
I think about my mom all the time. I hear the same from so many of my friends whose moms have left us. If you’re fortunate, you had the joy of cherishing your mother for a good long while before that happened. I’m grateful every day for that time.
Not everyone who knew my mother loved her, but all respected her. The mantra from folks near and far when she passed was, “You always knew exactly where you stood with your mother.” In this day of subterfuge and white lies and people generally couching everything they say in politically correct BS, what a marvelous epitaph.
But, my mother lied to me. About many things. But here are her top 4:
1). “I don’t want that last piece of pie.”
When I knew, absolutely, she did. But she’d pass it on to me, and take great joy in doing so! Usually I could get her to at least have a bite, if not split it with me. But I still laugh when thinking of those turquoise blue eyes unblinking as she said that.
2). “It’s wonderful that you’re going off to college!”
Okay, yes, it was wonderful. And she meant it—for me. But I knew how she and my dad would miss me—I’d watched them miss my brothers. When pushing the fledglings from the next, the mom has to be firm and clear. What a tough job!
She never said how much she missed us. But it was in those beautiful eyes that shone with joy whenever we came home.
3). “I wish you all the happiness in this marriage.”
And, yes, she did. She never let on that she thought anything whatsoever about my new husband. They were even friends, for a time (she caught onto him quicker than anybody did!). Not until years later and I’d ended that relationship, when she had already passed, did one of my friends tell me the truth: Your mom told me, “I wished better for Susan.”
Now some folks might think Mom had skirted her duty here, that she should have taken me aside and shook some sense into me before the wedding. But, Mom knew me. Knew how stubborn I could be, and that by pushing me one way, I’d go the opposite . . .
4). “Come see me when you can.”
As many of yours did, my mother lived for her children. We were her life. My mom had an amazing career before marrying and having children. She was the head pediatric charge-nurse at John Sealy Hospital in Galveston—the medical-school teaching hospital. In the 1940s. Mom left her farm home at 17 to begin college, taking a bus for the first time . . . The litany of firsts for a woman raised in that time and place still amazes me. And she gave it all up to raise babies, her ultimate and complete joy.
As we grew, she wanted us to fulfill our potential. To go out into the world and achieve what she knew was in us to achieve. To live life, even if it meant not seeing us very often. Her duty as a parent, she held sacred.
But this little lie is the one that haunts me. Although I saw my mother often, especially in those last hard years at least two to three times a week, it was not enough. It’ll never be enough. If I could have just one bit of time with her . . . To feel the touch of her hand . . . To look into those eyes the color of clear turquoise waters . . .
What lies did your mother tell you?