The last time I talked to my mom was on June 2, 2006. She called me to get my sister's number to wish her a happy birthday. We had idle conversation about whether my sister had a child (she does), had a husband (she doesn't), if I had a husband (I do), if I had any kids (I do), what was my address (which I dictated to her while she wrote it down). My birthday followed that October, my 30th, factually, I was not happy about turning 3o; I was not hurt or saddened that I did not receive a phone call from my mother or a card in the mail.
More than four years prior, I had finally chosen to walk in forgiveness for the painful years of unmet expectations about what a mother should be, what she should or should not say, for what she had not taken responsibility, for lies and half-truths she had said, for not being what I needed her to be for me, and for anything that may happen in the future. I have very few fun, happy or loving memories of my dysfunctional relationship with her. She had chosen to live a life void of accountability, fullness or hope. I chose to not allow any of her future choices to pierce my heart. The bitterness I held toward her was gone. I no longer held her to any standard of expectation, so when a seldom phone call or card came, I talked with her, I read the card, but the hurt was gone, but at some point along that road, so was the opportunity for any vulnerable fellowship. At some point, my boundary for what was going to be healthy and acceptable for me did not include any intentional fellowship with her.
She had met Barrett for the first time when we ran into each other. She saw me in the parking lot of a Home Depot near my hometown and approached us as we were walking into the store. He and I had been dating for almost a year.
The next time I saw her, about 18 months later, I had taken Barrett with me to visit her at her work unannounced because of an alarming phone message my sister had received from one of my mom's coworkers about an incident that happened my mom's second husband. Since my sister hadn't spoken with my mother in almost ten years, I made a choice to go check on her. We walked in and she approached us, asking if she could help us with something... "It's me." I said. "Can I help you with something?" she said again to the couple she saw standing at the entrance. "Mom, it's Melanie, your daughter." Watching her jostle her memory as if coming out of a stupor or trance, I could almost hear the gears of her mind creaking to put it together, when her mouth opened I thought for a brief moment that a receipt was going to print out. "Oh," as she studied my face, "your hair is darker than I'm used to," she said, not sure what to do next. At that point I was married and just a few months pregnant, she didn't notice my rings and I did not tell her that her third grandchild would be born, she hadn't even seen the first two, my nieces. Emotionally, she was all over the place. Jibber-jabbering one moment, crying the next, interjecting that Barrett "looked like Dale"- What?! Dale who? - "Dale, Jr." (my mom watched NASCAR? something you'd think a 28-year-old daughter would surely know about own mother). We walked her to her car, made small talk, made sure she had my contact info once more.
I didn't hear from her again until that day in June, her calling to wish my sis a happy birthday.
My mom gave birth to four daughters, three of which are living, fellowship with none.
Sometimes I wonder if she regrets having chosen her self-imposed victimization over seeking healing, taking responsibility and making amends. I haven't given up on the idea that it could happen, but regardless, those lost years, she'll never be able to get those back. She didn't see me walk down the isle, never held a newborn grandchild, never heard them call her grandma, she has never even seen my boys beautiful faces.