By Crystal Mosher
This article was originally published on July 11, 2018.
More than 40 years ago I was a sophomore in high school. I struck up a friendship with an underclassman. Her name was Annie and she was a freshman. Up until I met Annie, I hadn’t paid any attention to the students younger than me. I had my eyes on the upperclassmen. But Annie was unique. She was spunky, articulate, and energetic. I was drawn to her and I anticipated our budding friendship would endure our lifetime.
Tragedy struck when Annie’s mother died in a car accident. It happened in a blizzard on a Sunday night. We lived in a small rural area. That Monday morning at school word traveled fast. Annie had 4 brothers and sisters. Annie was the youngest.
I never spoke to Annie again. I know she eventually returned to school and graduated, but her mother’s death was the end of our friendship.
After Annie’s mother died, I couldn’t even look at her.
It has been more than 40 years and this memory makes me sob.
The reason that I did not attend the funeral, or reach out in concern to comfort Annie is because her mother’s death terrified me.
I shuddered in silent fear. Whatever would I do if I lost my mother? How could I ever survive? I couldn’t. I could not live without my mother. This I knew for certain.
My mother was not an affectionate person. I have no memories of my mother hugging me as a child. I have no memories of her telling me she loved me. In a crisp memory, I am watching the Breck shampoo commercial. I watch the blonde mother and her blonde daughter holding hands as they run through the wheat field. The mother throws her daughter up toward the golden sun. They are laughing. I bet that blonde mother says “I love you” to her blonde daughter. I wish that was me. I wish that was my mom.
I left home the day after high school graduation. I traveled across the United States; Kansas, Arizona; back to Michigan– out to California. I married. I started a family. I moved back to Michigan. Years passed. In all this time I stayed connected to my mother. Cards, pictures, gifts, visits home. In all this time, more than 20 years my mother called me only 3 times.
When my daughter was born and I experienced motherhood firsthand; it occurred to me that my mother’s mothering was unusual. My mom was always pleasant. She was supportive. But she was detached. I accepted her. I was grateful that her disengagement had made me independent. Although, I secretly longed for her attention and praise; I carried on without it.
My attachment to my mother was fierce but private. I remember thinking one day in my kitchen in California—if I lost my mother I would not be able to move forward. I would land in a fetal position in a corner of my house and stay there forever. This, I imagined, would surprise my California friends; I never talked about my mother who lived back in Michigan. It was strange even to me—this dependence that I felt.
Eventually, I moved from California to Michigan. I wanted my daughter to know her grandparents, her aunts and uncles, and cousins.
I longed to spend time with my mother—now that geography was no longer an issue. But my mother wasn’t interested in shopping excursions or lunch dates with me. Once, she said to me sharply; “Stop trying to get me to do things that I don’t want to do.” So I did. I stopped trying.
Today, it is 55 minutes from my door to my mother’s door. She is living in a long-term care facility. She is 86 and she has dementia. I am happy that she always recognizes me. She sees me walking down the long hallway and is delighted I have come to visit.
When I sit with her I talk about silly things, mostly memories from my childhood on the farm. She smirches, giggles, rolls her eyes, and nods her head in agreement. I don’t talk about myself, my work, and my challenges. Details about me do not interest her.
She is happy to have me next to her. Even when we are silent. She likes to take naps and to have me stay by her bed. She likes to wake up and see me close to her. She likes me to hold her hand. She enjoys it when I fuss with her hair, paint her nails, and hug her. When it is time for me to leave—she gets upset. She begs me to stay the night. I tell her I love her. She tells me; “I love you too.”
My husband tells me how lucky I am to have this sweet affectionate mother that I have longed for all of my life. I know. I am a lucky girl. Today she just can’t get enough of me.
Whatever would my mother do if something happened to me?
Crystal Mosher was raised on a beef farm in the thumb of Michigan. Port Huron has been her home for 25 years. She has been married to her high school sweetheart (Marvelous Marv) for 38 years. She has 1 daughter and 3 grandchildren. Currently, she is gainfully entertained by Woman’s Life Insurance Society. She has a deep affection for raccoons, roller skates and rocking chairs. She believes the best self-help book ever written is “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. She enjoys drinking her morning coffee until it is no longer morning. Crystal has long been deeply moved by the power of words and is an active member of Toastmasters International. Writing for Blue Water Healthy Living is her first attempt at writing things that other people may read. (If you don’t count her personal diary that her brother stole when she was in junior high.) Now you know all of the important things there are to know about Crystal Mosher.
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