Epilog to the Horrible Daughter Story

“People can’t change so that’s that,” my 94-year-old mother declared. That was her response to our first ever confrontation. I am soon to be 67. I had confronted her because on Christmas day, in two public locations, she had announced to all what a horrible daughter I was.

After I recovered from my shock at how easily my mom was willing to throw away her relationship with her daughter (me), I took a step back thinking, huh, she really believes that. I realized that she lacked self, social or emotional awareness. So I replied, “People can change. I’ve changed a lot about myself. You just need to want to change then take the steps to do it.”

The silence floated in the air for what seemed an eternity until she broke it when she said, “So let’s just wipe the slate clean and start from scratch.”

Whoa!  A miracle!

Before going to her home to have this conversation, I had spent several weeks after her Christmas day outbursts sitting with the hurtful words she spoke about me and pondering what to do next.  My emotions swirled through hurt, rejection, betrayal and renewed feelings of unlovability – the same emotions I often felt growing up – and I ended up feeling sad that her heart was so shut down that she had no clue what it felt like to feel loved and lovable. My purpose was clear: to create a crack, even the slightest sliver of a crack that might open her heart to experience love so she could possibly learn to be more loving.

So I wrote her a letter, a love letter of sorts, and gave it to her with a birthday card and gorgeous deep purple orchids for her 94th birthday. Since I wasn’t quite ready to see her yet, I left them on her table while she was at the casino with my brother.

While she has never mentioned the letter, card or flowers, it is clear something has changed because the miracles keep coming.

After our confrontation, we’d been able to honestly discuss our relationship. One of the things I mentioned was that she never had been able to hug me without stiffening and turning her body away from me. She wasn’t able to give anyone a real full on hug. To my surprise, when the conversation was over, we hugged and it was the first time her body didn’t stiffen and she didn’t turn to the side to put more distance between us. For the first time I felt her being present. She really hugged me.

And the other day as we were leaving her house after playing Tripoli with friends, I overheard her say to two from our group as she walked them to the door, “I’m learning how to be a loving person.”

But the most significant change I have noticed happens every time I visit her since I wrote that letter: The minute she sees me she gets a big smile on her face and she walks over and gives me a full on hug.

Just goes to show it’s never too late change, and sometimes just the mere thought of wanting to change can open the door to a miracle.

[link to Christmas Day Horrible Daughter article] [link to love letter reply]

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