Some time during the last year, I finally found myself able to forgive my mother for all the things she did and didn't do think or feel while I was growing up. I forgave her for laughing at me and competing with me; for being disloyal; for not loving me enough and for a million other slights perceived and real. And after all that worn out hurt and anger washed away, there was only compassion left.
My mother hasn't had the best time of things, but she doesn't ask much of life, so she does okay. It took her a very long time to get over my dad leaving her, even though he was never very kind. Now she's living an hour and a half away and she's not been well. I worry that she's lonely, but I know that she's living in the place where her soul rests and that she waited a long time for the chance.
Today she called to tell me that her nephew, my cousin, had died suddenly of what looks like a heart attack. He was 47, ten years older than me, so I had little to do with him growing up and I haven't seen him for years. I remember him as a mysterious, fascinating and slightly frightening teenage boy. He had a confusing poster on his bedroom wall of a barely dressed woman draped over a sleek car.
As an adult, he still called my mum 'Arny Ann' and would wrap his arm around her shoulder, grin cheekily and give her a squeeze, then make a joke and laugh too loudly and she would look embarrassed and pleased. When most other members of her large family were brushing her aside, he invited only her to his wedding, because she was the only one who seemed to care. She was chuffed to the core at that. I'd say it was one of her brightest moments.
Today there was no hint of the melodrama that usually accompanies her announcements of a death, even when they're tempered with grief. She just sounded defeated and worn out and sad and I wish she was closer so I could put my arm around her shoulders and give her a squeeze tonight.