One of the things I was compelled to think about as I sat with my mother was "how we see ourselves" and with that, maybe a little bit about "why we see ourselves thus".
I've been doing a little bit of reading up on that and it is an interesting and complicated dynamic which combines our interpretation of past events ... ummm, how and where we place/ascribe value, what we believe about ourselves from words we tell ourselves or accept from other people ... what we do, like our days work and how well we think we do it ... how we treat the people and things around us, including close connections and those more casual, our outlook on our future ... our perspective ...
(... tons of other stuff ... unique ingredients which infuse us ... some we seek, others essentially in the air we breathe ... time to reflect, the times in which we live our lives ... place (I actually "feel" better in Texas ...who knows? could be something as simple as the wide open big sky ... might be the smell of beef brisket wafting on the breeze rather then pine pollen which is currently simmering locally ... I have underrated the sense of place and for me, it's not just Texas, but Texas definitely is a good place for me), a myriad of other bits and pieces of chance and circumstance ... tons of stuff ... )
It was interesting to find myself in a situation which I would never have chosen; living again with my mother. Some of the time she thought I was a roommate, sometimes, mostly at night, she thought I must be her momma, we came to a time when she mostly didn't know who I was but she felt like I was there to help her, frequently she seemed to not experience me as "other then herself".
Which I'll try to explain: She would talk as though talking to herself ... wondering aloud about something and I would softly suggest a possibility in response to her puzzling ... she saw things ... "why is that dog under the table?" she might ask as though asking herself and when she became vexed at not coming to a satisfactory answer I might say something like "he just likes to be near you" and she would smile to herself ... later maybe she would say, that dog (or those children) are getting too rambunctious, and I would say then I'll let them out, and I'd open the door to the patio.
Every once in a while she clicked in on the current situation, she knew I was her daughter and she liked that I was there though she never realized that I had been there for several weeks previous to that lucid moment.
"Serving" in many different roles was interesting ... she always saw me as present only for her comfort/convenience/care ... except that once when she said thank you for looking after me, I know it has not been easy ... and thank your family for making it possible (that was why it came as such a surprise, she had been only entitled, as an infant is entitled ... ) Her world was very small, so small that it centered on her, that is my unfortunate take on it anyway. People saw her as ... controlling, bossy, bullying ... unhappy, and unable to get happy and, not unkindly, I would have to agree that she did seem to be like that.
That's an over a lifetime observation ... not for just those last weeks when health concerns outside her control may have impeded a more contented disposition.
One of our most central "issues" could be described as boundary issues and I see that, and the most troubling problems I have come to deal with in life, as a result of being raised by a person with unhealthy boundary perceptions. I think she must have seen me as very much an extension of herself and she spent a good amount of energy frustrated by her inability to control everything and everyone (me included) ... she was not a go with the flow kinda person. Even during her last week at home she was somehow able to go through my things throwing away things like my flat iron and glasses ... and probably smaller items yet to be found missing ... lol ... why? She always has done so and I have never understood why. It used to really ping me ... now I shrug and replace ... it will never make sense to me.
Once I left home for college (not the one she chose) and especially after I married (again, not the one she chose) she pretty much wrote me off as a lost cause ... people have said that she was strategic in her relationships, umm, the people in her life were required to enhance her experience somehow. I'm not expressing that very well ... everybody probably prefers pleasant interactions. I'll try to think about that better.
I like to think of her as a "survivor" ... her adaptations made sense to her. I think she wanted what she wanted ... and left to her own devices early on, was misguided. Maybe the best way to describe our later relationship was ... from her perspective: out of sight mostly out of mind. From mine - I came to believe that she did her very best at parenting us and I admire the force of love and character one's very best requires. Once I recognized that it was so much easier to not strive with her ... and from a distance it was almost impossible for her to push my buttons. I made it my goal to do my very best with her.
I think my mom saw herself as "in control" or at very least as attempting to "get control". I didn't want to make the same mistakes (so I have made different ones). It was wonderful to participate with her during her last few days. It'll take a different post to write about that but I had to think a bit about how to note the before version of Momma. What I saw "dying" was the "icky stuff" ... the stuff that she/life wrapped herself up in ... the self stuff, the selfish stuff. As her "earth suit" died she transformed right before my incredulous eyes.