A Mother and Her Son

A Mother and Her Son

Recently, I attended a workshop held by a mother and her grown son. They talked about their Hawaiian ancestry and the philosophy of “Aloha,” which means both hello and goodbye. It also has a deeper meaning, which is peace, love, compassion and mercy.

The relationship between the mother and her son was beautiful to witness. They sang together while the son played several instruments. The music was so evocative that several of us attending the workshop were moved to tears. I was stunned by the gorgeous singing and warmed by the palpable love that existed between them.

Later, on my way home, I started crying and cried for days. I became profoundly depressed because for over ten years, I have been treated like an outcast by my son and daughter-in-law. I don’t want to be pessimistic, but I am losing hope that there will be a reconciliation. It’s true that we never know what’s around the corner, but I’m so discouraged at this point I can’t seem to muster up any optimism.

I’m feeling pretty down , but if history bears me out, I will, once again, get through this. It was wonderful to see the relationship between the mother and son who gave the workshop, but it also put the lack of a relationship with my own son in stark contrast. I try not to compare, but I couldn’t help noticing how loving and easy their relationship was and how utterly, insanely, incomprehensibly, heartbreakingly difficult the relationship (or lack of one) with my son has become. 

I need to take my own advice and change my thoughts. Perhaps I’ll take a walk, call a friend or make a healthy meal. Maybe tomorrow. Right now, I just want to go to sleep and forget.

4 thoughts on “A Mother and Her Son”

  • I lost my son…I lost him forever on October 13th, 2017; but in reality, I lost Bill 30 years before that remarkable day – to Borderline Personality Disorder. The years of his pain were cruel – to himself, to me, to anyone who tried to love him. He just could not accept being happy. He could not accept himself and the imperfections he saw within himself. I saw him as beautiful; tall, dark and handsome with a deep belly laugh when something struck him funny. He would stand tall to his full height (6’3”) and throw his head back and laugh out loud towering over all around him and giggling with joy. Those moments were rare but they were so precious. Bill was brilliant; not just smart but with a quick mind and a photographic memory. He had rare insight into people’s lives and hearts when he chose to take a moment from looking inward to actually see the whole picture of the person before him. I loved him completely; I loved him dearly; I loved him so much that the pain of his not returning that love in a kind way weighed down heavily on me for all those years. I always tried to help him; I always tried to fix him; I always tried to be there for him no matter how hard it was to listen to the blame, fault finding and accusatory language he poured over me. In the end he crushed me and I became ill; I had a TIA that laid me flat for 6 months and impacted me for a solid year. I finally found the strength through Christ to disengage completely and I sent him away. I dealt with the guilt everyday but over time as I went on with my own life I began to heal. I missed him – the young boy that grew up always by my side, the young man who was so vibrant, kind and loving in his youth. When he reached the age of 23 he began to change, becoming angry and depressed, confused about life and unsure of himself. Although I was the one to make the decision for us to be apart, in actuality it was my son who could not bear to be with me. He knew that I knew his gifts and talents, his opportunities and the ones he deliberately ignored, avoided or crushed. And in knowing that he resented having to face me while living a life that had no meaning, did not live up to expectations for himself or anyone else. He knew and I knew there would be no “happy ending.” There would be no loving daughter-in-law, no grandchildren, no opportunity to be a part of a family through him. Do I regret sending him away? No; it was a matter of my survival. We would talk over the years so long as our conversations were just nuances of being familiar. “How’s your weather? How did your team do? How are you feeling?” Nothing personal, nothing important, nothing that would start the whole conundrum over again. I continued to love and support him financially as he spun deeper and deeper down into the spiral of mental illness. And then one day – a day that I knew for many years would come – I received the call. It was from a detective who asked me if I knew him and when I said that I did he said “I’m so sorry to inform you but your son is dead.” The shock, the pain and the trauma of that moment is indescribable. I invited an old girlfriend of Bill’s to his funeral; she knew when I called that he was gone. She loved him dearly and I assured her that she was the one person in his entire life that he truly loved; he just could not let himself have and enjoy the privilege of that happiness. I wanted her to know that it was not her fault that their relationship ended (for I knew she still loved him.) And Bill loved her; he did. And her love was a gift of grace to my son for which I am forever grateful. Bill is gone and now I have peace. I would rather have come to that peace in my life any other way than what happened but this is what it is now and forever until the day I see him again. I lost Bill but I still love him – completely, willingly, eternally.

    • Dear Virginia – thanks so much for sharing your heartbreaking but inspiring story. Your emphasis on the importance of letting go and honoring yourself spoke to me on a very deep level. So many of us mothers have sacrificed our happiness and peace of mind for scraps of attention from our adult child. And, that simply isn’t – and shouldn’t be – enough.
      You have been through unimaginable trials and have transformed your heart and soul through effort , prayer and the grace of God. You’ve taken care of yourself even when it broke your heart. You’ve lived to share your wisdom born of the pain you endured and I am so grateful.

  • This was a beautifully written post and one that resonates with me all too well. This is the first time I’ve visited this website. Do posters and responders have a way of communicating privately with each other?

    • Hello, Karen. Thanks for writing and I’m glad you’ve read my blog. As for posters and responders, the only way you might communicate with them is by writing a reply to their posts. I have written a book that is almost ready for printing and will be starting a private online support group at some point. I can keep you posted if you like. In the meantime, you can write to me at grandparentwrites@yahoo.com.

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