Is “Alone” Lonely?

“Congratulations on your promotion, darling,”  Mom said.

“Are you proud of me?” Even as a divorced career woman, I couldn’t resist an opportunity for a little parental approval.   It was early 1970s and I was off to make certain that career doors were as available to women as men.  I was revving up and Mom was happily gearing down.  She was newly retired from teaching.

“Yes, I am.  I’m  proud of all of you,” she said.

“Let loose, Mom.  It’s okay to show a little favoritism – you’re my mom, not my teacher.”  I caught her grin.

However, she was predictably fair.  “I’m proud of all of you.  At times I wonder how you kids ended up being such decent human beings.  I never had enough time to be a decent mother.”

“Mom!   I loved how you let me have a say about my life!  You put aside the manual and raised me by heart.  Whenever I tell you how thankful I am, you focus on what you couldn’t give.  I got all the important stuff.  I still get it.  We all do!”

“I thought so many times that I made a mistake being a mother.”

“I’m glad you made the so-called mistake.  Stop and think about it, Mom.  There you were:  ‘City-raised girl becomes a teacher, gets a job in a country school, falls in love with a farmer-cum-road foreman and has five children.’  Dad was away most of the time.  When you weren’t planting the garden or unfreezing the well, you were helping the Public Health Nurse weave her way through a web of  crisis running rampant throughout the countryside.  You put on concerts and organized a mobile library so the country folk could have some culture as well as decent literature.  And you did it with no electricity or running water for the first 23 years of marriage!  I don’t know how you did it.”

“I certainly learned to relish every moment I had to myself.    Time to myself was rare.  No wonder I love being alone.”

“Do you get lonely?” I asked.

“Of course I miss Dad and you kids, but when I begin to feel lonely, I write or phone.”  She sipped her coffee and chuckled, “I raised you kids to stand on your own two feet.  I’ll be darned if you didn’t do just that!”

“Do we keep in touch enough?”

“I wouldn’t give up any opportunity to visit with you kids and the grandchildren.  When we’re together, I revel in your company.  But when I’m alone, I cherish that time as well.”  She paused with a chuckle; a familiar sign of upcoming wisdom.  “Time alone is terribly important, you know.”

Mom and me, in London, off to my wedding in 1976.

“I’ll have lots of it in London.  But I’ll make friends with people soon enough.”

“That’s one of the best parts of this promotion, Amy.  You may be thrilled about having a new career, but I am thrilled that you will have the opportunity to learn to live WITH yourself.  Anyone can live BY themselves.”

“What’s so important about living WITH myself?”

“It’s the opportunity to get to know who you are.  It’s time to learn about the real you.  Sit with yourself.  Become friends with your feelings.  Give yourself time to catch up to you.”

“You mean learn to like myself?”

“Like, love and trust.  They’re all seeds inside you.  You have to grow the garden.  No one else can do it for you.”

“Isn’t that what relationships are supposed to be – helping each other grow the garden?”

“Oh, marriage helps you spot the weeds and supports your work.  Although, for some, it’s more lonely being married than being alone.”  I nodded in agreement.

She continued, “No, your garden is yours.  People can waste a great deal of time waiting for the right person to come along to tend their garden.  If they were busy tending it themselves, they may be amazed at the quality of help it would attract.”

When I arrived in London, Ontario, I settled into an apartment before beginning my new career.  I bought all new furniture and set up my new home.  Being pre-internet days, when I finished, I sat in silence – no television hooked up and no phone connection.  It was the first time I had ever been without a friend, a roommate, a husband or a family member beside me.  The apartment smelled like it had been furnished with new blocks of chemicals.  I wanted the scent of someone’s perfume, aftershave, nail polish, cooked onions, or cigarette smoke.  There was nothing to pick up, wash, clean, or re-do.  No human voice interrupted my concentration.  I was completely free to do whatever I wanted, whenever.

So why this claw of loneliness?  It hooked my heart and held joy at bay.  I sat paralyzed in my chair, frightened by the overwhelming unfamiliarity.  I had no car, no decent food and no appetite.  I tried smothering homesickness with denial.

Why was I getting angry?  I felt pulled through cascading tunnels of negativity.  Nothing soothed.  Everything confirmed I was alone.

And lonely.

On my way to the shower, I began to sob.  I caught a glimpse of my face in the mirror.  I forced myself to look me in the eye – one of mom’s tricks for finding some steel for the backbone.  “Is this who your mother raised?  Are you one of those kids she talked about?  Get in the shower.  Get outside for a walk.  Just do it.”

I finished my shower, fixed my hair, put on some walking clothes and ventured out.  I had no idea where to go, but I had been told there was a park on the Thames River.  I reached the spot where I expected to find park gates.  Instead, I found a large, old cemetery.  I decided it was the closest I would get to greenery.  I entered.

Something happened in those gracious, old  and well tended grounds.

Huge mausoleums bore family names and little gates that allowed a peek inside at plaques naming the departed.  Some monuments represented position and status.  Some plots were bare and some contained artificial flowers.  There were sections for different cultures.  Some families had photographs of the departed embedded in the headstone.  Some were in a foreign language.   Some had died many years before, yet the grave site was pristine.  Some markers, cracked and repositioned, had become beds for sturdy weeds.

A tiny grave of a baby, having died thirty years before, displayed a clutch of fresh Forget-Me-Nots in a tiny vase built into the headstone.   That’s when it happened.  My heart was claw-free, bruised, but flooded with love.  I dashed home.  I had to write a letter.

Dear Mom,

You remember our talk about “alone” versus “lonely”?   And you know how I always get frustrated when you talk about not being a good mom?

Well, I thought I was going to die of loneliness today.  But I forced myself to face it and look after myself.  I took a walk that showed me that you have placed a forever-bouquet of Forget-Me-Nots in my heart.   Let me explain…

♥♥♥

Our big brother tending the Ash plot marker for our Mother and Father in 2012.  The marker says, “Always Together”.  We could add, “Never Lonely”.

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62 thoughts on “Is “Alone” Lonely?

  1. Oh this is one of my favorite of your posts, Amy. Your mother was a wise woman. I love this: “No, your garden is yours. People can waste a great deal of time waiting for the right person to come along to tend their garden. If they were busy tending it themselves, they may be amazed at the quality of help it would attract.”

  2. This is beautiful, Amy. Your mother would be proud..
    There’s a grand difference in being alone and being lonely. those her know the difference are generally the ones who seldom get lonely.
    I love the photo of your brother, such a tenderness and respect showing in his face and posture.

    • You never cease to amaze me, Suzicate. I was so touched by that gesture…and I learned he does it every time he goes to Calgary – whether for business or pleasure. There is the kid who left school early and helped created a multi-million dollar business – on his hands and knees looking after Mom and Dad’s plots. I told him, too, how moved I was by his gesture of care.

      Thank you for noticing.

  3. What an awesome post! Thanks for sharing this – your mom taught you well. I always believe if you are lonely then you don’t like the person you are with – you – and rather than wallow in it, yes, walk, get out, do something! I love how you said your mom threw out the manual and raised you by heart. What manual?? I looked hard for one, ended up winging it. I think we all do 🙂
    Hugs
    SuZen

    • Well, SuZen…some of my older siblings thought I was spoiled because they had to live by rules that didn’t happen in my youth. To be honest, I think Mom was played out by the time I came along. I was a trustworthy kid. She could use a look of disappointment that was just a horrid for me as a spanking!

      Mom’s mother died when mom was 16. Mom said she didn’t pay much attention to parenting skills (probably had her nose in a book) so she really felt ill-equipped to know what mothers were supposed to do.

  4. I don’t think there is anyone who hasn’t felt lonely at some time. I know I have. Sometimes all it takes to turn it around is do what you did…get busy and do something and your loneliness goes away. At other times I just sit with the loneliness and allow myself to feel it for awhile. It never lasts. I do believe I would rather feel lonely because I am alone, than lonely when surrounded by people. Love the wedding picture!

    • I agree, June, I would rather be lonely because I’m alone than when I’m with others. My dear friend, you and I are similar in the way animals give us such joy. As much as I would love to put Duc in the car and visit you, I cannot bear the thought of him becoming sick with anxiety. Speaking of that, it’s pill time…where is that little beastie who I swore would not rule my life?

  5. I wonder why this reminded me of one of my favorite quotes:

    “If you can look in the mirror and smile with genuine warmth and affection for the person you see, you’ll have made a friend for life.”

    I suspect your Mom would agree. 😉

    • You’ve certainly called that correctly, William. Why aren’t I receiving notices of your new posts. I’m going there now to see if I need to resubscribe. Have been having lots of challenges with this of late. I missed you!

  6. This made me cry, it’s so lovely.

    Maybe it is part of the human condition to feel loneliness. Feeling lonely can be understood as a consequence of believing too much in the illusion of separateness we exist in. Going outside, as your story so beautifully illustrates, is a good antidote because out there things can touch you that break that illusion. I love the Forget-me-knots… so poetic with a touch of gentle humour that hums with inner strength. And vulnerability too, for feeling lonely can still creep in when least expected. It cannot be helped. It is the physical longing for a sensation now lost. As long as we are here our physical bodies carry memories that can suddenly wash over us, catching us unaware. But your mum’s answer reveals the lesson that loneliness is trying to lead us to which is acceptance. When you can learn to stop wanting things to be anything other than the way they are, you can find peace.

    xxx

    • Oh Jinkspots, you speak so deeply and well to the subject. Yes, acceptance is the key. With most of the young women I have mentored over the years, I have introduced the concept that any time we are unhappy about anyone/thing being a certain way, we are in control mode. We want things to be our way. The prison door opens when we let go and simply accept: It is what it is.

      In my younger days, I fought feelings. I had to learn that they are fabulous messengers. I don’t have to act on them, but they are teaching me something. Often, in my adult days without my mother being alive, I’ve wondered if she gave me too much credit. There was so much that she taught that was positioned about four notches above where I was.

      Nature truly is my salve. I’m so grateful to live in an abundantly natural setting. And, I have to mention, I’m grateful for my (now) 5’9″ snow pea plant that came from my composting a dreadfully old soil bed all winter.

      Blessings to you, my friend.

    • Thank you, Becca. I have to trust that she’s receiving all this positive energy from people just like you! She often felt like an island – so different from the rest of the world. When she found other people who were of her ilk, they were like manna to her soul. She was fed.

  7. This is a wonderful post. I can really relate. Life’s up and downs constantly confuse me.

    When I first got my Harley-Davidson Motorcycle I relished the thoughts and feelings of hitting the open road and being on my own and “doing my own thing.” All the time I’m riding at about 70 miles per hour on the open road I’m thinking, “I’m Free. I can do anything I want. I don’t owe anything to anybody.” About an hour later I was still thinking “Man, this is great being so open and free…….I wish I had someone to share it with!!!” I guess that’s why motorcyclists join gangs.

    Thanks.

    • We really aren’t built to be alone, IF – for many reasons. So when we encounter anything that fills us with joy, serenity, hope…whatever, we think about sharing it. And we usually have someone in mind!

      I understand your love of that bike. I had the pleasure of being a passenger on a Norton for a number of years. To feel, smell, hear, taste and see nature while being one with it, was a joy. When I’m out walking now, I remember to look up. The marvels that are above us can be totally missed. I used to love windy, hilly rural roads with archways of trees. That’s when I learned to look up.

  8. I’ve always found it so interesting that as humans we were always taught to be social creatures over and beyond any attention given to ‘how to be alone happily’. It’s such a balance. We have to cultivate that time alone in order to be any good to others, I think. Thanks for sharing your beautiful story!

    • You have the key, Stanka – balance. At times, with writing, I become so immersed that I don’t want the world’s invasion. It’s not withdrawal, but an enthusiastic isolation to let the seed take hold and produce what it will. Once done, enough is enough and I need people!

      Besides, as one of my wise friends says periodically, “Watch who you’re keeping company with!”

    • Hi Carol! How are you doing? I just wanted to share that I now have a walking buddy and the 40 minute walk flew by. It was a DRAG that she had to go back to work. But we have today, tomorrow, all next week – hopefully more days than we can imagine…!!

      Yes, timelessness. That’s the test of quality, isn’t it? We had quite a gap in ages – she was nearly forty when I was born. Yet she nailed my soul every time there was something we had to address. At first I thought it was just a mom being a mother. But when *all* my friends would want time with my mom, too, I realized she had something that not all mothers shared with kids and young adults.

  9. You and mom had a special relationship and there’s your brother, tending the site where mom and dad lie together, with love. You’ve got precious memories to cherish and carry you through. That’s not everybody’s fortune. Mom taught you a good lesson there. Thanks for sharing.

    • You know, Tots, I’ve mentored women who have had such a rough beginning that they’ve ended up having to parent themselves. As one said to me, “Once I learned that I needed parenting, I suited up! Who better to give me another chance at a quality life.”

      As a teen, I went through the usual, “My mom is old and doesn’t know anything.” routine, but my girlfriends like talking to Mom so much that I couldn’t write her off! 😀

  10. Ever have the Universe scream at you? I’ve come to the desert ALONE for writing and reflection…thought of this reality, alone, not lonely, during the 500mile+ drive. Thanks. Beautiful post.

  11. Amy aunty this one is my most most favorite post in your blog till now. It was beautiful, heart touching and thoughtful I loved every bit of the conversation between you and your mother. I will surely try to like myself and grow the garden by my own. I do sometimes believe that I am alone, even though I am with some other people. And this post will always inspire me to battle it out. Thanks a lot for these words of wisdom.

    • I answered earlier, but I must have forgotten to hit the reply button before moving on. I wanted to say that this is one of the reasons it is so important to remember “To thine own self be true”. When you can stand in the midst of people and say “This is not for me”, with confidence and trust in yourself, you’ll know you have found your home garden. I added that this Aunty would give this dear nephew a big hug if she were closer!

  12. To go out and face whatever comes on your path, in stead of staying in and feeling miserable on your own. That takes a lot of courage and strength.
    One can be alone, and still feel surrounded by love, family and friends, if the bond is strong. And one can be lonely in a room full of people, because there is no real connection. When we’ve been away for the weekend with a group, afterwards I feel a strong urge to be alone again. To find myself and my own thoughts again. Is that selfish?
    So no, alone does not have to mean that you’re lonely, as long as you have the power to reach out and touch.

    • To me, Marion, the desire to be alone again is very healthy. It would be unhealthy if you felt a need to cling to those people. This is the balance that helps us stay on a healthy track within our relationships.

  13. Your mother ……utterly amazing……..she gave you so much to wrap yourself in. Layers, I’d guess……one’s that unfold more meanings as the experiences happen.

    I’ve come to know the difference between alone and lonely…..WPIML handed that one to me eons ago and I thought he was a bit ‘touched’ for trying to get me to understand alone vs solitude (depends on how much you actually like the company you’re keeping, dontchaknow…..) It took me eons to come to an understanding of what he meant–and as I experienced more in life, a deeper understanding happened to that bitty piece of wisdom he passed on. I guess G-d took very good care of me by gifting me that man, huh? Not quite the same as having a ‘mom’, but definitely a messenger making certain I got the messages.

    I’m good with ‘alone’ today…..LOVE it! Solitude is one of my favorites! And today I know when it’s not working in my favour and I need to get out and about around PEOPLE…… A message delivering moment that I’m glad is made abundantly clear for me–the Big Guy works like that in my life…….
    Oh…and your mom was spot on when she gave you the “People can waste a great deal of time waiting for the right person to come along to tend their garden. If they were busy tending it themselves, they may be amazed at the quality of help it would attract.” So was WPIML……he called it before I understood it (true to his special ways…..), too.

    I guess that means we were BOTH very, very well taken care of, huh? 🙂

    • It sure means that you attracted a gem into your live, Mel. (Plus he cooks?! That bit of info sticks well in my brain! I want a clone, please!) It took me a while and a few bumps to finally grasp Mom’s concept. Oddly enough, I’ve felt more lonely IN relationships than when I was on my own.

      It was important for me to learn I could be partnered and maintain precious alone time. Four of the 5 of us kids have chosen to live alone after death and divorce. At times it would be great to share some life gem with a love, but other than those occasional moments, we seem quite content to rattle around in our own spaces.

  14. I love reading your mother’s advice that stays with you to keep you company. Like other commenters before me, yes, I love this: “…If they were busy tending it themselves, they may be amazed at the quality of help it would attract.” I wish, I wish I could convey the same message to daughter #1. And, this gem too from your mother, has stayed with me, “Who did you like better than yourself?” You have a book of reflections in the making.
    Thank you for sharing. Oh, your mother accomplished a lot after moving from the city to the country. I will remember the resourcefulness she mustered to cultivate the legacy of your family when I read more about her…more conversations coming?

    • Thanks Georgette. It’s a joy to share Mom. I’ve carried these bits of wisdom and have shared Momisms with others throughout my life. But it’s quite different putting them down in writing. It’s a refresher and it is as if she’s here for a visit.

  15. As one philosopher has said, ‘If you can’t be happy when you’re alone, you’re in trouble.’
    We can even be alone in the midst of a great crowd.

  16. You’ve shared a few stories about your amazing Mum. What ever life presented to her she’d always land on her feet, and carry on running. Her mother died when she was 16, a city girl she married a man who thought he gave her 5 kids and a home in the country with no electricity or running wasn’t home much yet she thrived.

    I love her wisdom re “alone” versus “lonely” When I walked on the Camino last month I walked with myself . Just to say that you feel strong and not alone.

    I’ll never forget her question “Who did you like better than yourself?”

    I also love the photo of your brother tending your parents graves.

    • I used to ask Mom to write about her life, but she saw it as too drab/boring. She read one and sometimes two books a day so I guess she compared herself to characters in literature. She never really saw herself the way others saw her – and she didn’t buy it when I told her. In today’s lingo, she never took hold of her power…she never realized she had it.

      I also love that photo. I took one afterwards with him standing looking down at the plaque, all cleared and polished. He looks pretty proud! 😀

  17. “At times I wonder how you kids ended up being such decent human beings. I never had enough time to be a decent mother.”
    Amy, are you a mother as well? I am, and I can totally relate to her sentiments. That one grabbed my attention. Though my girls are always telling me what a great role model I was and am, that they so appreciate me as a mom – as you did with your own mother – we have these lingering doubts. It’s called self reflection.
    I’m glad your mother was open to your, likely to her, avante-garde suggestions. “Getting to like herself” is not something that generation grew up to embrace. At least that’s how I see it. And I’ll never, ever know my mom. She lies in bed wishing to die and has for many years – and it’s my feeling she’ll live quite a few more years before she gets her long rest. This is a lost soul, and though I feel deeply for her struggles and pain, the denial she clings to will not only continue harming her in this life, but I fear in lifetimes to come.
    Sitting with oneself requires a deep abiding ability to accept ourselves fully, shadow as well as light. At least I’ve found it so in my life, and it allows me to enjoy being alone quite a bit – I love being solitary – without feeling the least bit lonely.
    Of course then my husband comes home, or I come home to him. So there’s that 😉 Still, I’d like to believe I could go it on my own and retain these feelings of goodwill and self acceptance.
    Great post, lots of food for thought.

    • Mom’s doubts baffled me, Bela, because she had x-ray vision when looking at other people’s lives. She had such a time seeing/believing/accepting she had tremendous gifts. The one thing that she was not able to model was how to speak up for oneself. She taught us how to do it for anyone else, but that’s been a struggle for me. If I wasn’t groveling and/or over-talking, I was coming on with both feet and a black-belt tongue.

      Mom was ahead of her time. She spent 25 or so married years “in the boonies” so it must have been her reading that kept her fresh and beyond. We had no money when it was time for me to go to University – our home burned to the ground, we lost everything and the insurance money was pitiful. A joke, actually. Mom was really struggling with menopause so wasn’t teaching at the time. I told her I would get into a career, then take courses I needed…which I did. But she assured me the best thing about an education is learning how to think. She must have practiced that a lot. She would hold up an idea like a diamond and ask us about the facets we saw. She routinely awed us with her perceptions.

      I’ve been married – John was a really good man and decent human being. But I overpowered him. Making decisions was nothing for me. So I thought I needed to repress myself and keep silent to give him a shake at decision making. I suspect you realize the fallout of that! After we were divorced, he told me he hated making decisions because he had no idea how he felt about the choices. He ran on his brain and it scared the hell out of him that he’d make the wrong decision. No one had ever told him one could change the decision or start again.

      I never had children – saw my older siblings with their babes and decided I wanted a career. After I divorced, I thought it would be a good idea to partner with a man who had children. Wow…that held some fun experiences. Ainslie MacLeod who wrote “The Instruction” told me that I’m an old soul on my last life. (Yay! I will relish the next act!) He told me that souls in my position often don’t have children. Supposedly we’ve cleaned up our karma and having children is a fairly certain way to collect more! 😀 We don’t want to come back any more so choose to be childless. I hope I’ve spent time, instead, tying up loose ends.

      It’s so hard to imagine why your Mom decided to give up. I wonder if she’s mad because giving up didn’t take life away. It still stares her in the face. I hope you have had the opportunity to experience mothering from other sources, as well. I don’t know how or if a birth mother’s innate knowledge of us can even be somewhat picked up by a surrogate. I haven’t found it to be so. I’ve had some terrific spiritual mothers, but none replaced my Mom.

      Bela, I believe, once we taste the deliciousness of solitude, we will find it and claim it whether partnered or alone.

  18. I too wished to be childless – but the universe had other plans! I had two, count them, two – children on birth control! I figured if those spirits worked that hard at getting me to be their mom, I’d pay attention. And I’ve never looked back.

    I’m so glad you had your mom. She sounds like she was a bit ahead of her time. I wish I’d known her. And yes, I do have a great older female friend who gives me all the support I wish my own mother could. Still, I get this from others who are not necessarily older or younger than me. I do consider myself extremely blessed. That being said, life was not always easy. Beginnings were rough. But I do know I wouldn’t have learned what I have any other way. Resolve. Compassion. Strength in a quiet, not showy way.

    My mother had gifts as well – and used to relate to me on that level before she ‘found’ religion. Aye-yi-yi! Nevertheless, I don’t think she had much support or even desire to self-actuate. Identified herself through my father, mostly. And her anger has always been there – she was so attached to her own mother who died when i was little – she never got over it. Then her only brother died in his fifties. She kept saying how she’d love to join ‘loved ones on the other side of the veil,’ and I’ve always said ‘but you’ve got dozens of them right here and now!’ That’s always fallen on the proverbial deaf ears.

    I think my mom figures life disappointed her, through losses of all sorts. As if life has a will of its own and we have no say in our choices! She can’t balance adversity with the obvious gains. Longs for wherever she’s not. Certainly you know people who do this, on various levels.

    And I certainly DO know what it’s like to give my voice away to a man! My daughters’ dad was just the one I did this with. I also believe strong women like us choose what we think are ‘mellow’ men, for various reasons I won’t analyze here 😉 However ‘mellow’ can mean spineless in some instances. My husband of over 20 years now is truly mellow, but has a great inner strength and resources. I’ve never ‘blown him away,’ like I did with the last. I think that was because I was trying to hold back what was natural for me, which was to wish to express feelings he was uncomfortable relating to in himself. Chris and I, on the other hand, are indeed well matched. I consider this a gift as much as hard work – a real willingness to stick with the process, whatever it may be. Asa result, I’ve become much calmer and introspective – what I believe my inner nature was, all along – while he’s become more assertive – perhaps his natural state before it was suppressed through parental fears. It’s been a lot of learning on both sides – and a lot of love.

    • I knew a good long walk with you would not be boring! 😀

      The one time I thought I was pregnant, I was over the moon. It felt as though it was the world’s first pregnancy. But it was a false alarm. Good thing, too – after seeing the expression on my then husband’s face.

      So often when I hear people’s stories, Bela, I marvel at the determination of the human spirit. Children pull themselves through chaos, dysfunction and enmeshment like phoenixes out of the ashes. It seems the ultimate form of revenge or distancing from unhealthy parents is creating and having a life of love.

      The biggest challenge I had with Mom was after Dad and she retired. They had never lived together 24/7 and they didn’t know how to deal with life – especially resentments. They never mastered openness and resolution with each other. Mom became passive aggressive and Dad blew up; then forgot about it. So Mom began to be a chronic critic of Dad and wanted me to be the listener. She actually wanted me to intervene. I told her I was not prepared to fight her battles – she had to speak up. For some reason, she was petrified of Dad. To us kids, he was just letting off steam. But a raised voice threw her off beam. He was never physical, but in the last few years of his life at home, he was scared of losing his dignity and became verbally abuse to everyone. When Mom had enough, she’d pack a bag, call a cab and spend time in a motel. I’d go visit her there and we would have a grand time together. So Mom and Dad couldn’t live easily with one another; yet always missed each other when apart.

      I used to wish Mom was more domestic. The house was a rat’s nest unless my sister or I cleaned it up. Like a hamster, the minute it was clean, Mom would cocoon in her chaos. As a teen, when I had a date, I spent all day Saturday cleaning the house so the guy could come in when he picked me up. His coming and speaking to my parent(s), I felt, was a gesture of respect. I lived in fear that he may need to use the bathroom…so I cleaned the whole house because he would have to walk through it.

      As much as we all complained to mom about her housekeeping, we also appreciated that she was a person our friends loved being around. So we couldn’t expect any sympathy from our friends…they considered us lucky.

      Mom became the family’s matriarch. She doled out encouragement, suggestions, financial help, and good examples. She really has not been replaced and it seems we are a bit scattered without that pivot point or fulcrum.

      I’m blessed knowing that both Mom and Dad are highly respected by all who knew them as friends, neighbours, co-workers and colleagues. I went to a reunion in our home area about 18 years ago and there are some incredible stories about stuff that Mom and Dad did for people. I saw the appreciation in their expressions. What a legacy to leave a kid!

      • Absolutely, Amy. And thanks so much for sharing this very touching story. Your perceptions about your dad are likely accurate – and how profound of you to notice. I also believe I understand your mom’s fear of him, given her closest proximity in the wee hours children are not privvy to. We never can know what goes on behind closed doors, especially if we are in any way being protected from it. And then there’s the patriarchy she was raised in – still prevalent today, but thank the gods you and I are made of stronger stuff. And we have our parents to thank!!

        How the world does go ’round.
        Peace.

  19. Thank you, Amy. I like it when you talk through your experiences with and reminders from your Mom. I remember a time when I thought I was grown and my own skin was as foreign as a place I’d never ventured. 🙂

    • Oh Leslie, those times of utter terror…moving forward because going back was not a option. There were times when I felt like I was a little kid in big girl clothing, completely lost with no manual and no script. Now that I’m older, I’m so glad I didn’t give up. I used to wonder what possessed so many wonderful people to support me. I’d think, can’t they see through my facade? I suspect they did and it only served to remind them of theirs in their younger days. 😀

  20. Oh Amy, What a beautiful post! I enjoyed it so much. I love that we are what our parents have instilled in us, calling on it is the key.

  21. Beautiful post! There is such a big difference between being lonely and alone… I remember when I moved in my unit by myself, it was so quiet. At the start, I use to always put the television on. But then, I got used to the silence and appreciate it. I guess I knew that even though I was living by myself, it was a choice I made and my family and friends were only a phone call away.

    • Hi Annabelle. I really enjoyed your contribution to “secrecy” at Writer On Edge’s challenge this week. I hope your new life in NY gives you the courage to go for it!

    • So, Ms. Solidgoldcreativity – I ran over to your place, peeked in the windows, saw the feast, so went on in. Thank you for making me think. I am very grateful for people like you!

  22. “It’s the opportunity to get to know who you are. It’s time to learn about the real you. Sit with yourself. Become friends with your feelings. Give yourself time to catch up to you.”

    Is that what so many people are avoiding, as they stare intently at their cell phones and iPads? Does the need for constant connection with others signal a fear of being alone with ourselves?

    This is a wonderful post, Amy. It’s filled with wisdom and love. And, obviously, those things traveled in both directions between your mother and you.

    That last photo made me want to know about your relationship with your brother. Have you written about it?

  23. Beautiful.
    Powerful.
    Heartbreaking.
    Poignant.
    I do not have enough adjectives for this AMAaaaZING Post.
    I appreciate this line: *** I wanted the scent of someone’s perfume, aftershave, nail polish, cooked onions, or cigarette smoke.***
    I love love love this, Soul Dipper. I couldn’t get enough. Xxx

    • When I found your comment today, Kim, I had a big “Oh YAH!” feeling. My guides are nudging me for a post so the next thing I’ll do is meditate. I have no idea what is coming, but I know I’m to tell you to watch for the post.

  24. I love the way you write about your Mum Amy…she was obviously not just an amazing woman, but a very wise one too…but more than that, the truisms she gave so regularly and which you reminiscence about share so generously…are reflections of the contents of your heart and a celebration of the beautiful bond you shared! Your posts about her…your brother tending their  resting place so gently and lovingly are testimonies to the sort of mother she was…I am almost tempted to say, they don’t make them like that anymore…..

    I absolutely love your picture together…you look fabulous….and she the beautifully proud mother….
    Thank you and God bless…

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