By Rosalba Stocco, MSW, RSW
My mother died over 20 years ago, and I knew her as who I was 23 years ago. Even with a Masters Degree in Social Work, I still had no idea of who my mother was. I wonder, how well do I really know her today?
I saw her through the lens of my education and my experience. I did not see her through the lens of her experience, her culture, and education. I certainly judged her and it certainly wasn’t all that favorable.
- born in 1919,
- father died before she was born,
- mother remarried to someone she was not very fond of,
- a woman with secrets,
- demanding of her children,
- disappointed in her children,
- refused to speak ill of the mother she disconnected from,
- disconnected from her children,
- lost a brother in WWII,
- did not inherit from her father,
- her orphan’s pension supported her mother’s new family,
- left her country with a husband who had no skills and 5 children,
- had a strong drive to earn her own money,
- did not feel she owed her children anything,
- believed her children owed her something,
- saved her pennies,
- free with her opinions,
- had colourful language,
- down to earth,
- happier with a hammer than a sewing needle,
- a poet who dreamed of entrepreneurship,
- loved Dante’s writings (in a different time and place, she would have had a PhD., likely in literature),
- capable of practical jokes,
- accepted the lemons she was given in life and resolved to make some lemonade,
- at 50 years of age she learned to drive,
- insisted that her children be independent and self-reliant.
All of these things are considered true by her children. Yet I can tell you much more, and still, you would not know my mother. Likely, neither do I.
In 1995, she was dying and coming to terms that there was nothing else she was going to do. It was what it was. No longer demanding, mostly disappointed, not so much that she was dying, more so that there would be no more real estate deals. In reality there were only two or three, however, in her mind, she was just beginning. She was 76.
Her last 6 months were pure torture. She told me she wished my sister had not saved her from her soiled delirious state. In the end, she was really not spared. As her infection cleared, her cancer took hold. She “gained” 6 months of life that were mostly pain and suffering.
During this time, her children cooperated and communicated even though I doubt that not one of us felt cradled, rooted, or connected to her or each other.
We came together to support her in her own home as the cancer devoured her body. We were all still hoping for a few more good memories and connection. Perhaps we also wanted her to see that we really were good kids.
This woman must have done something right because we all still wanted to be cradled, rooted, and connected to her. Mostly we wanted her to see us. Yet could we truly see her?
Fascinating that as I write this, my curiosity abounds and my body relaxes. It sinks into the couch although my throat feels somewhat constricted. My sense is that there is more she wants us to know. Or perhaps there is more I want to know. Does it matter whether it is her or me that wants me to know more? What matters is that I feel cradled, rooted, and connected to HER. Happy Mother’s Day, Mamma.
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To learn more about reclaiming the love stories of our families and gaining a new perspective on what love truly means, stay tuned for Rosalba’s and Jacqueline’s new book Love Stories of our Families.
Rosalba helps individuals, couples, and families heal and live a more productive, harmonious life. To book an appointment or to find out more about how Systemic Family Constellations therapy can help you, reach out today. You can call or fill out the contact form.