My mother has died at the age of eighty-four. I'll never know if her heart gave out from too many miles on her odometer or because it was so broken by her brazen brats, myself included.
My mother's religion was a religion of rules and rites; this was the most important thing in her life. All came second to that: her husband, her children, her happiness. It was her firm belief that her religion was God on earth, and that faithfulness to it was faithfulness to God. She could never celebrate the successes of herself, her children, or her marriage because this would have been prideful. She also seemed to feel firmly that suffering was necessary to salvation. She apparently felt joined with Jesus in her attempts to suffer for our sins in our stead. This left little space for loving us as we really are, much less liking us.
I suppose I could have tried to be more duplicitous in my relationship with my mother, but my face would have given away my falseness. My mother's religion required that she find fault with herself for poor mothering if she admitted to any approval of our doubts about the letters of her laws. It was an act of mercy to hide my faults from her, and the only way I could do this was to hide myself from her. We simply brought out the beast in each other.
My parents had a very troubled marriage. The sight of me brought back all of my mother's worst feelings about my father, both before and after his death. In my mother's eyes, the sins of the father were certainly carried by this daughter.
It is with great sadness that I admit that I will not miss my mother. There are many parts of me and of my siblings that come from her; these I can continue to celebrate or censure without mixed emotions. I feel liberated to finally get to know the men and women that my siblings have become.