This is Part 1 of a recent interview which was conducted in conjunction with the upcoming Christian Authors Festival to be held at the Meyera E. Oberndorf Central Library, 4100 Virginia Beach Blvd., in Virginia Beach, VA on Saturday, March 18 from 12:45 – 3:15 PM.
Along with other local Christian authors, I will be exhibiting and selling/signing my new book, “Memories in a Daughter’s Heart.” And all attendees will have a chance to win free autographed books from some of the participating authors, including myself. The event is free and open to the public. I hope to see you there!
” Thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few questions for us. I know this is your first book, and I hope the first of many. So what is your book about?”
It’s the story of a mother and daughter going though the last years of her mom’s life, and how I dealt with the grief after my mom died. But it’s also a story of hope, because I hope when you read it, you suddenly realize you’re not the only one going through those awful feelings and struggles that follow a parent’s death. Other daughters have as well. We’ve all had those times of frustration and worry, as well as that feeling of overwhelming grief and loneliness when she’s gone. I also explain how my faith helped get me through, because without that, I don’t know how I’d have made it. The process is certainly a bit different for each of us, but we all have a lot in common.
“Why did you decide to write this book?”
I started keeping a journal from the time my mother started having problems with her memory. I have no idea what made me do it, except that I knew one day it would be important. If not to share with doctors or other health practitioners, but just to help me remember and possibly understand what was happening. I certainly had no intention in the beginning to write about our experiences.
In fact the first sentence of the introduction of my book says it all, “As I start to write this book, I can’t help but wonder, what in the world am I doing?!!” And believe me I asked myself that a lot. But it was something I knew I had to do. So that other daughters would realize the things they were feeling, the things they were going through, were perfectly normal. If there can be anything normal about losing your mother…
“What was the most difficult part to write? Was there a time you just said I’m giving up on this project, because I can’t handle the memories anymore?”
Oh my, there were quite a few. Quite a few! But probably the hardest was re-telling, re-living, really, the day it happened, when we walked into my mother’s room at the rehab center and she’d already passed away. I can still see the picture in my mind of her lying there in bed…. It was something I’ll never forget. Although I sort of expected it by the time we arrived, I truly wasn’t ready for what I walked into, and those long moments afterwards. No one is. Even now, just thinking about it, I can still see the entire scene in my memory. And after over ten years it’s still just as painful.
“As you’ve written, daughters have a special bond with their mothers, but what about sons and their mothers?”
Sons and daughters have different types of relationships with their mothers. Even though in our teenaged years, and sometimes into our early twenties, we daughters may butt heads and even sometimes rebel against our mothers, there’s always a unique bond there that just can’t be broken. Most of us still go to her with our problems even when we’re grown and on our own, because that’s just what we’ve always done. She’s the one person who’s always been our BFF, whether we realize it at the time or not.
Sons love their mothers as well. But up until recently our society has traditionally taught that sons are to be the strong ones, the ones who don’t show their emotions, who don’t cry in front of others, because men just aren’t supposed to do that. They’re supposed to go to their father for “manly” advice, not their mother, because he was perceived to be the stronger parent while the mom played a more submissive role. And I think this tended to hurt some mother-son relationships in the past, even to the point of making her feel left out of his life.
A son should feel just as close to his mother as a daughter does. And if he had a close relationship growing up with her, it should continue. Even when he’s married. He shouldn’t be hesitant to show emotion when she’s going through tough times. He shouldn’t be hesitant to reach out to her, tell her he loves her, and give her a genuine hug and a kiss when he sees her. Such demonstrations of feelings shouldn’t be viewed as weakness; it’s just an expression of love. Sure, the son is usually the one who’s expected to take charge of the family when his father is gone, but it shouldn’t mean he can’t express his emotions as they go through difficult times; he should. Because he’s hurting just as much, just in a different way.
My husband didn’t have a good relationship with his mom when he was growing up, and when she died he just felt empty. Like he’d missed something. He and my mother developed a special bond, almost like she’d been his own mother. And he cried when she passed away.
“So what advice would you give someone whose mother – or father – is dying, or has died, and they aren’t feeling those emotions of grief and sadness you describe? They say they don’t feel anything, or maybe they feel guilty because they never had that relationship they really wanted. What then?”
That’s a tough question. A tough situation. There’s so much that was lost that can’t be recovered. A parent may have deserted you, turned their back on you. You may have tried for years to build or rebuild a relationship that you’d wanted for years, but it just never came about.
And then when that parent dies, you don’t know how to feel. You’re at a loss. You’re sad, but you don’t know what’s worse…that they’re gone, or that you never had the chance for the relationship you always wanted, and you suddenly realize now you never will.
You have to realize, and get it deep down inside of you, that it is NOT your fault that things happened the way they did. Your parent made their choice, for their own reasons, and nothing you could have done differently would have changed the circumstances, or changed their minds. They were thinking of themselves, not you. And it wasn’t your fault. Nothing you could have done would have changed it.
My heart breaks for anyone who is, or who has experienced this, because until you are finally reunited with them again in heaven, where all things are made new, you may always wonder “what if?” And yes, I strongly believe that will happen; that we will all be reunited one day. And it’ll finally be OK.
And it’s all right to feel like that; to wonder that “what if”? In fact, it’s natural, as long as you continue to understand it wasn’t your fault. You have to learn from the situation, and don’t repeat those same mistakes with your family or your own children. And in doing that, you will finally begin to heal.
Part 2 of “Interview with the Author” will appear on Thursday, February 23. And make your plans to attend the Christian Authors Festival on Saturday, March 18.