Second mother

February 24, 2013

Someone who was like a second mother to me from the time I was eight until I was in my mid thirties sent me a note recently, on the occasion of my father’s death.  She offered condolences for Willy’s death, too, noting their belatedness (he’s been dead almost ten years).

She included two phone numbers, a request to call, and a reference to a “hurtful misunderstanding.”

It took me most of a day to realize that Emily Post doesn’t encourage making requests of people addressed in condolence notes.  My initial reaction had been joy, thinking how it would feel to go back to the old relationship.  Then I felt misgivings when it occurred to me that I couldn’t assume that I would experience the person with whom I had that relationship.  Instead I might encounter the one with whom that “hurtful misunderstanding” arose.

I still don’t know what I’m going to do.  My actual mother suspects the other woman feels guilty and seeks forgiveness.  What I’m not interested in doing is having yet another person ask me to pick up more slack.  I can see that she did the best she could twenty years ago when the parting occurred, but her behavior caused real damage.  The damage had consequences.  I live with all that on a daily basis.  I don’t expect her to do anything about it, but I also can’t be involved with someone who ignores the damage either.

So I’m not sure what I’m going to do.

I find it helpful to look at this as old karma.  I’ve felt betrayed by all my mothers, the two mentioned here and my mother-in-law, but I’ve also been aware that this has happened before and with more painful consequences.  So I see progress.  And as for what to do in response to the note, I will wait until I see what I feel called upon to do.

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