I was thinking about my mother's death today and the last thing she said to me (well, almost).
It was: "Do I still annoy you?".
She said that to me, not the other way around. At the time, I had no idea what she meant but I wasn't about to lay anything on a dying woman so I said "No". "Annoyance" wasn't a term I had ever used to describe our relationship. I just thought she didn't want me so I was angry. To me, it was always as simple as that.
I've thought about that question on and off for the last ten years. When I mentioned it to the male parent shortly afterwards, I was confused. I even said, "That's just like her, putting it all on me," and I can STILL remember his reaction to this day. He just nodded and looked embarrassed. He barely said a thing. He was sombre throughout the period after her death. Could be guilt but equally could be grief for someone he loved. He did visit her grave a while afterwards which, as far as I know, he didn't tell anyone but me about. The only reason he told me me was to ask for directions to the actual gravesite itself because cemeteries are large.
The whole issue was WEIRD and confusing and I could never make any sense of it. I had ALWAYS believed it was ME who annoyed her, not the other way around.
But today I got thinking, especially in relation to her keeping silent in the face of his alienation and badmouthing etc.
Did she actually know about it?! And if she did, did she have any knowledge of the depth of it?!
Her deathbed question, which today breaks my heart, opens up a can of worms. To me, that question sounds like she didn't know. She just had a child who hated her and didn't understand why. It also explains a lot about her behaviour towards me: it wasn't all hateful and hatefilled. It must have been frustrating and distressing and confusing and depressing - because if there was ever a candiate for lifelong depression, it's my mother. She had a hard life even without this horrendous child who hated her (ie me). BOTH my parents had hard lives but I've never seen any signs of depression in him.
I'm now sick to my stomach at the thought that I was a cause of her depression. I have to be honest about this as hard as it is. I feel intensely guilty today. I have suffered depression and so know how terrible it is. It can be debilitating but I don't remember her being "happy". I remember how much she loved our youngest brother (but then we all did; that boy is the most wonderful human being I have ever known and everyone (seriously! EVERYONE) who knows him says the same thing) and for a period of time after he was born and before we moved house, she was happier for a while. Things went wrong for her after that, but she did have a period where I know she was happier than I'd ever seen her.
So, I'm wondering now if she really knew what was going on.
I have to go right now so will finish this later. Just wanted to get the beginnings of the idea online so I won't forget. I haven't forgotten my list either.