For 25 years, I mourned the loss of my mother. The holidays were always the hardest.
She didn't pass away. Oh no, she is very much alive. But it was one of those things that happens in families. I was young and headstrong. She was stubborn and convinced she was right. I felt I had to choose between my mother and the man I loved. She and I parted ways.
That man and I celebrated our 27th wedding anniversary this year. Along the way we raised my two sons and his 3 children, plus 2 more we were blessed with. We've had a good life together. But I always grieved the loss.
I felt the pain most on Thanksgiving. At Christmas, there have always been children in my life. Creating a magical time for them was my focus. But on Thanksgiving I struggled to somehow replace that long table in my mother's house, where I knew Grandma, the aunts and cousins and my sister and brothers still gathered each year without me. At first I tried to reach out to her several times but my efforts were rejected.
Years passed. My anger faded. And as I began to open my Soul to the unconditional love of Our Creator, the pain in my heart was replaced with acceptance. She isn't perfect. None of us are.
Mom turned 80 not long ago and I made the 12 hour trip North to see her. Her voice quavers now and she clutches the handles of a walker as she slowly makes her way around a room.
But her hug was strong as ever when she thanked me for coming and she seemed eager to see pictures of the two grandchildren she's never gotten to know. I'm going to visit her again.
I learned so many life lessons from my mother. Many of them have been about how NOT to live life. But I've finally grown up enough to be grateful for everything good I received from her and forgive her for the rest.
After many years of living in the South, I can now smile when I speak of her and end each comment with "Bless her heart." And all of us Southern girls know what THAT means.
Merry Christmas, Mom.