1938 - 2014
|My mom in 1974, when I was seven. Our relationship was great until I realized – around age 12 – that I couldn’t be honest with her about the feelings I felt for other guys (and that I didn’t feel for girls.)|
When I finally came out to my parents at age 25, my mom acted like it was the big act-one finale of some grand opera – oh, the tragedy of her life, two gay sons (yup, my older brother is gay, too.) My truth meant, to her, a life of despair – no grandchildren, no joy, no hope.
Her reaction was incredibly hard to experience.
I’m 47 today, and when my mom died last week, after a three-and-a-half year battle with ovarian cancer, she had my brother, myself and our dad at her side, and so much had changed. The truth of my mom’s life had transformed, and somewhere in these last 22 years we went from living in a tragedy to living a joyous, if sometimes bittersweet, comedy.
|My mom this past summer, age 76.|
My mom still had two gay sons, but she also had a son-in-law (my husband) and a granddaughter (our amazing daughter.) The six of us had spent two separate vacations this summer together, cramming in the great memories – my mom and daughter making matzah-ball soup for an early holiday meal, my parents meeting the rest of us for lunch after we had walked the gay pride parade in Tel Aviv with some of our gay and allied Israeli family, and all of us slathering on the salty mud by the shore of the Dead Sea in Israel.
We’d had such tough times, but my mom and I had finally arrived at a really good place. (Even though there were always little things, like my mom never really visiting this blog, which hurt my feelings. But as I was pulling together materials for her obituary, it hit me that I never really visited her artist website, either. None of us are perfect, and we’re all just doing the best we can.)
And while it’s tempting to be angry about all the time we didn’t get now that we finally arrived at this good place – the fifteen, or twenty, more years I wish we had with my mother – I find myself focusing on how grateful I am.
I’m so grateful we were able to heal from our hurt on all sides, and move on to the comedy, and the joy.
I’m so grateful I was able to be there for her final days, that there was nothing left unsaid between us. That I was able to tell my mom that I love her, and have always loved her, and that after all this time I know – even though I didn’t always feel it – I know she loved me always, too.
I’m so grateful for the 47 years she was my mom.
I’m so grateful for the 11 years she was a grandmother to my daughter.
I’m so grateful that change is possible.
And while I’m so sad, that gives me great hope.
|My mom, surrounded by her husband, two gay sons, son-in-law and granddaughter… all of us covered in mud!|
So this post is for everyone who’s struggling with their relationship with a parent (or with a child.) And, of course, this post is for her.
I love you, Mom.