Author Topic: Spring has Sprung  (Read 2824 times)

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kathleen

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Spring has Sprung
« on: March 26, 2011, 04:13:59 PM »
Wise MIL's and Grandmothers,

Yesterday I received an astonishing letter, heavily stained with crocodile tears.  It was written by the daughter of a dear friend of mine, informing me that my friend died January 10.  It was certainly not a letter I ever expected to receive.  I certainly opened it wondering who it was from, as I didn't recognize the name or return address.

I wrote the story of my friend "C" on this forum on August 5, 2010, "A Grandmother's Tale."  I described the cutoff by this daughter, the same daughter now writing the long flowing phrases about what a wonderful friend I was to her "dear" mother who suffered "so many hardships" in life. The primary reason for the hardships was the cutoff of this daughter of her mother, and her refusal to allow a relationship between her daughter and C, the grandmother.  The primary and killing hurt in C's life was the loss of the two people she loved most in the world.

For well over a decade I watched helplessly as C declined.  Nothing anyone could say or do could stop the blood flowing endlessly from a thousand cuts, leading to the big one:  I don't want to see you again, Mother, and you cannot see my daughter.

This, from C's only child, and of course, disallowing her contact with her only grandchild.  I once observed them together, grandmother and granddaughter.  C asked me to share a visit and report back to her my impressions of that visit, as her daughter was telling her that the little girl thought C was "abusive."  I saw a too-quiet little girl with a pinched face, too-big eyes in the thinness of her expression, watching guardedly past the kitchen door to see what her mother was doing, even as she carefully reached for one of the several beautifully wrapped gifts C had brought.  She opened the first one and she lit up, and forgetting herself she ran around the table and hugged C and they laughed and she told her grandmother, "Just what I wanted!"  And then she caught herself and crept back to her seat to open the rest, much more quietly again.  I saw how much this little girl loved and needed her grandmother, and how trumped up were any charges of "abuse."  I saw how this little girl tried to plan out every word, every expression, to suit the mother she seemed always afraid would come into that kitchen and see she was happy to be with her grandmother: more than that, she was trying to control every interaction in the hope this would not be the last.

At first, C was really going to whip this cutoff.  She made all the usual bargains with God.  She read dozens of books and did endless research on the psychology of the mess, consulted therapists, and talked for hours with me and others every week, always looking for that one key to unlock the door back to her little granddaughter, certain for years that if she just worked hard enough, she would be granted that key.  C was very angry and very animated and very dedicated, sad and hurt and hopeful, just as she was for the many poor people she helped weekly at her job at a legal aid non-profit.  But as her anger, fear, and sadness grew, she began not caring for her health, and within a few years was suffering so many health problems that many of our later visits were in hospitals or rehab facilities.  All the times I visited her, I always knew her daughter never came, never called, never sent a card, never never never during any health crisis (were the crises partly there in the hope her daughter might come?  The whole family knew of all the illnesses, certainly the daughter did.) For years I told her, "You just wait, she'll come back," but gradually C no longer believed me, and then, I no longer believed me.

Two years ago, I realized C was simply fading away.  She had that detaching attitude another friend of mine, now dying of lung cancer, is developing.  Briefly I told C I was going through something very similar with my son and granddaughter and her tone was flat, as if, oh yes, of course, it's happening again, this time to someone else I love. It was a very pessimistic tone she had, uh-huh, oh yes, now you're going through it, I'm sorry, that's life.  She was not unsympathetic; she had empathy, but she was exhausted and very ill and just too sad to hear about it again.  It was also as if I was watching her heart monitor slowly going flat.  We were then in the process of moving and I didn't call for a while, and then I sent my customary card and letter at Christmas, and it came back.  For the last year and a half I've been making sporadic efforts to find her, searching Internet address sites, calling the nonprofit, but she lives in a different area of the state and we had no mutual friends.  In fact, I knew she had become increasingly isolated.  Last Christmas when the second card came back, I felt I knew the worst. 

Now, this incredible letter, inviting me to the memorial next weekend, to "say a few words."  How did this daughter, who only reconnected when it was too late, come to find me?  The explanation was there.  She found one of my letters to C and realized we had been close.  Fortunately, that letter was fairly recent and had my new address.  Does this woman, who so maltreated her mother and her daughter, want some kind of guilt-alleviation from me, I wondered?

I'm going to write back a warm and kind letter to this daughter, covering my true emotions, for the time for recrimination is long past.  I won't ask about the daughter/granddaughter, for the last time C had any word, that girl was in the criminal justice system.  (No father around since birth.)  I would like to remember my friend to her daughter in kind and loving words, for that's all that's left that I can do for C.   

I know I have beat this drum many times on this forum, but we must, must, must take the lessons from this and other similar situations, those of us who have experienced total cutoffs from children and their spouses and our grandchildren.  Think of the people C might have gone on helping if she had refused to allow this situation to destroy her.  Think of the friendship I lost starting two years ago, when her health declined to the point that she no longer really related to me.  Think of the loss of her own life and happiness.  Think!

While I am sad, terribly sad, I am also very angry.  Angry as I always am at terrible waste.  Angry at children who don't respect either their parents or have any recognition of the eroding effects of time.  Angry at irrevocable situations that now cannot be fixed, because of the finality of death.  Angry at stupidity and false accusations and preoccupation with minutia instead of seeing the big picture of what a parent, or a loving friend, or any loving person, has really been about.  Angry at self-delusion. I have to work on all that and find the proper place to rest C in my life now.

MIL's reading this, it's my prayer that you forget obsession/focus on children who hurt you and your grandchildren. Go out and have a life! Please!  All C's self-destruction did no good to anyone, and only hurt those who loved her. I can't even describe the pain I felt watching her decline, until there was little point even in contacting her anymore.  She was not a self-pitying person by any means; she simply didn't have the tools available to cope with it. Those who are responsible for cutoffs, I hope that you will never have to sit down and try to write through your tears a letter of obvious pain and regret for your actions, such as I received yesterday.  Take action today to stop the cutoffs.  Or believe me, you will regret it.  This I know; I hold in my hands today the written proof. 

My only small comfort is the knowledge that C would have been happy, finally, that her daughter saw the truth: that C loved her deeply, that as a single mother she had done the very best she could, and that she also loved her granddaughter.  All accusations of "abuse" now are erased, but only by regret, a poor way to delete false accusations.  And C would have been so happy her daughter reached out to me now, and she would know I would respond in a positive way.

I am afraid, however, that C's daughter is far too intelligent at this point not to realize the damage she has done to her own child.  I don't know where C's granddaughter is today or what she is doing, if she got out of the criminal justice system or not, and of course in my reply I won't ask.  I only know I am glad I am not the one living with the guilt over destroying a relationship that might have saved this girl's deeply troubled adolescence.

Time is a kaleidoscope running backward shooting stars of memories, when one receives such news.  I remembered our happy times, when C was still in her "I can beat this" stage, when we went to dinner together and actually laughed and went to her health club and sat around the pool and the time she came to the city and got hopelessly lost. How we laughed!  I remember how she loved my youngest son and encouraged and helped him through a time of teen trouble which was so invaluable to us all.  I remember how she loved my husband, and I remember the time we stopped at a fast food restaurant and a family of six in ragtag clothes came up and talked to C like she was a heaven-sent angel, because of all the help she had given them.  She had the love of so many, but not the love she wanted most; she deserved it, but she didn't have it.  I miss her so much, but of course, I've missed her now for years, ever since she gave up on life.

Take care all, and beware.  This is a cautionary tale on all sides.  Maybe my telling it will do some good to some of you, I hope.  Maybe the person I'm really trying to tell this to, again, is myself.

Thank you for listening,

Kathleen


Offline luise.volta

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Re: Cut off, and now she's gone
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2011, 04:33:22 PM »
How deeply, penetratingly heartbreaking, Kathleen. Sending love...
"Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes it's a quiet voice at the end of the day saying, I'll try again tomorrow." -- Mary Ann Radmacher

kathleen

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Re: Cut off, and now she's gone
« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2011, 04:57:19 PM »
Thanking you for your love, Luise, through my tears tonight.

Gratefully,

Kathleen

Offline Pen

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Re: Cut off, and now she's gone
« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2011, 05:04:01 PM »
Kathleen, thank you for sharing this deeply moving story. How kind and gracious of you to not express your anger and sadness to your friend's daughter. She's already bearing quite a load of her own making. Your friend sounds like a wonderful person whose life could have been fulfilling and joyous for years to come. You've given us a lot to think about. I'm sorry for your loss.
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb

L

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Re: Cut off, and now she's gone
« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2011, 06:15:47 PM »
I'm so sorry for your loss.  It sounds like you were a very good friend to C.  Thank you for sharing.  I do believe that a broken heart can hasten death.  I hope your friend is at peace now.  Take care of yourself.

 

Offline jill

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Re: Cut off, and now she's gone
« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2011, 08:44:44 PM »
Kathleen,
Such a sad moving story.  C was lucky to have you for a friend, I hope you have some happy memories of her also.  What a shame she was not allowed to show her love for her granddaughter, and the granddaughter has suffered for this.   I am sure many mothers here will recognize themselves in your story, I know I do, the feeling of hopelessness when there is nothing we can do to repair the rift between our children and ourselves.
However fulfilling our life may be in other areas, with other children, spouses, jobs and friends, nothing can fill the hole in your heart from being cut off from your child and grandchildren.
Thanks so much Kathleen, for these wise words...........................................Jill

Offline Nana

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Re: Cut off, and now she's gone
« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2011, 02:02:08 AM »
Dear Kathleen

You brought tears to my eyes.  Thank you for sharing C's experience.  We all have something to learn...probably we all know...but sometimes we need to remind ourselves that life is full of regrets.   We complicate our lives with insignificant issues....and dont get the big picture of things....as you said.   Probably Kath...we get obssessed with what we dont have and we want so badly.   As I say, it is so easy to have a good relationship with people....that is, if we truly want. 

I think that sometimes daughters/son when they cut-off their parents, they really dont know the damage they are doing.  They cannot understand what it is to be deprived of a son/daughter or gc.  They have not been there....and they will some day.  I cannot think that a person can be so mean...knowing all the pain they are inflicting to their love ones....and still go ahead feeling no guilt or remorse.   

But as you say, and it goes to all ...we have to live our lives to its fullest....try to be happy with what is left.  We were whole persons before we became mothers....we just have to find and love ourselves again. 

Thanks for your post

Love you
Love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds, Or bends with the remover to remove:
Shakespeare

cadagi101

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Re: Cut off, and now she's gone
« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2011, 02:16:26 AM »
Dear Kathleen

You brought tears to my eyes.  Thank you for sharing C's experience.  We all have something to learn...probably we all know...but sometimes we need to remind ourselves that life is full of regrets.   We complicate our lives with insignificant issues....and dont get the big picture of things....as you said.   Probably Kath...we get obssessed with what we dont have and we want so badly.   As I say, it is so easy to have a good relationship with people....that is, if we truly want. 

I think that sometimes daughters/son when they cut-off their parents, they really dont know the damage they are doing.  They cannot understand what it is to be deprived of a son/daughter or gc.  They have not been there....and they will some day.  I cannot think that a person can be so mean...knowing all the pain they are inflicting to their love ones....and still go ahead feeling no guilt or remorse.   

But as you say, and it goes to all ...we have to live our lives to its fullest....try to be happy with what is left.  We were whole persons before we became mothers....we just have to find and love ourselves again. 

Thanks for your post

Love you

Kathleen and nana, it is such a pleasure to read what you have written,   you have reminded me (us)  what and who is important in life.

Thankyou both so much I will read these posts often, they have so much to offer everyone.     No-one could read these posts and not be moved by the gentleness and wormth that comes through in them.

Offline lancaster lady

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Re: Cut off, and now she's gone
« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2011, 01:03:39 PM »
Life is not a dress rehearsal , there is no second chances of getting it right .
Is sad when you hear the phrase '' If Only ''.
In my posts before , of losing close friends , and my own health in question , it makes you realise you have to get it right now.
Let people know how much they mean to you , contact old friends , wear that lovely dress you have been saving .
Take that trip .....it goes on .
Life is for living , I'm doing my best , and I'm wearing purple !!

Offline Pen

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Re: Cut off, and now she's gone
« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2011, 01:29:53 PM »
LL, good post. So true, and so easy to forget during our busy, stressful days. Get out the good china, say "I love you," share that bottle of wine you've been saving, etc. Make the effort to communicate even though there's a game on TV or you've had a busy week and phoning the parents, the kids or the ILs is not at the top of your list.

It would have been so much nicer if the DD could have honored her DM while her DM was still alive. We need to remember that our daily treatment of our loved ones is what really matters, not what we say after they're gone.
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb

LaurieS

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Re: Cut off, and now she's gone
« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2011, 01:35:48 PM »
Yep LL.. short and sweet.. enjoy it while you can

Hey I'd love to see some of your paintings one day.. have you thought of posting any here

Offline Pen

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Re: Cut off, and now she's gone
« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2011, 01:39:15 PM »
Me too!

Maybe you and Kathleen could do a book together? We've got some talent here at WWU.
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb

Offline lancaster lady

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Re: Cut off, and now she's gone
« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2011, 03:20:37 PM »
With all thats happening just now , my painting has gone out the window ...lol
As soon as I get this heart sorted , I must get  back in action .
I have an exhibition for Easter , also a big one in August .I always have a few in stock which haven't sold ,
but it's always nice to put a few new ones in .....
wonder what all your taste in art is ?
I think it depends on your house style , contemporary , traditional or total whacky ..!

My DD is at my side constantly at the moment , so we know what we mean to each other .
I bet the DD of Kathleens friend wishes she could turn back the clock , too little , too late !

Offline Pooh

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Re: Cut off, and now she's gone
« Reply #13 on: March 28, 2011, 08:08:45 AM »
Regrets.....one thing you can not change when it's too late.
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us. -
Joseph Campbell

Offline FAFE

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Re: Cut off, and now she's gone
« Reply #14 on: March 28, 2011, 08:21:13 AM »
Kathleen, your anguish about C and her daughter is heartbreaking.  Yes, regrets are something you can't take back.  Most of us can just live day by day and either accept what we can't change or make ourselves crazy.

My problems with my child is nothing compared to what some of the wise women here are going thru.  Nevertheless, he does the emotional control with our gs.  When they were here for Christmas, we plainly talked about when gs could come for the summer. June.  A couple of weeks ago they called and casually mentioned that he could come in August.  I am not going to change my plans - so gs will not get to come.  I generally fly to IL to pick him up, and take him back.  We pay for all the airfare, etc.  That's fine.  We have no problem doing that.  But, he tries to restrict even the times he's picked up and returned home.  Like the airlines work on his schedule.  DIL just goes along with whatever he says. 

I send him goody bags for all major holidays, including a little money here and there.   He does know that we love him and hopefully one day his dad will not be so controlling.

Hugs to you K, and I'm sure C knew how much you loved her.