Dear Readers: Happy Mother’s Day. Please phone your mother, grandmother, mother-in-law, stepmother or foster mother and wish them the best. And our special good wishes to all the new mommies who are celebrating their very first Mother’s Day. Also, please don’t forget those for whom this day, for whatever reason, is filled with sadness. Give them a call and say you are thinking of them.
Dear Annie: Another Mother’s Day is here, and I dread it. I dislike spending any time with my mother, but I do it anyway because I feel it is the right thing to do.
My father was an alcoholic, and Mom was abusive, both emotionally and physically. Many times, my siblings and I had to sit in the car outside the bars while my parents were inside drinking. She also beat us with the wire end of a fly swatter. One of her favorite things was to slap me across the face. But what hurt the most were the cruel and cutting things she said about how I looked and dressed.
Growing up, I had to wait on her hand and foot, getting her cigarettes, beer, coffee or anything else. I also was expected to do a lot of the housework and cooking. Ironically, I don’t resent that as much because I learned skills I might not have otherwise developed. Her abuse also taught me to be a better parent, because I knew how I did not want to raise my children.
I know Mom was unhappy, and I am sure she felt trapped, but so did my father. She is now a widow, cries a lot and wants attention and sympathy. When I was diagnosed with cancer, it was all about what she was going through. She never once asked me how I was doing. After 63 years of this, I am tired of her excuses for the way she treated me. She has never said she was sorry. It was always someone else’s fault. Am I a bad daughter for not wanting to be around her?
— Over It
Dear Over: No. We think you’ve put up with a great deal over the years. Whatever you give back to your mother now is a selfless act of pure kindness.
Dear Annie: This is in response to “N.Y., N.Y.,” the 34-year-old who is reluctant to visit her elderly grandmother. The writer stated that the grandmother doesn’t know who she is half the time. That means she does know who she is the other half.
I understand that some people have a hard time visiting hospitals and nursing homes or seeing a loved one change. But this grandmother is a living, breathing person with feelings, memories and needs. It is inexcusable to turn your back on a loved one because it makes you uncomfortable.
There are many other ways to support someone who is homebound or living in a facility. Cards, letters, pictures and phone calls can delight someone who may not be able to communicate in other ways. For the last two years of her life, I sent my aunt postcards on a weekly basis, even though she had dementia. When she died, we found them in her bedside table. Her caretaker said my aunt carried them around with her. They helped her feel connected to me, even though we lived 3,000 miles apart.
It is also important to support the primary caregivers. I was my own mother’s primary support. Mom didn’t call me by name for the last eight years of her life, but I could tell by the way she looked at me, even to her last day, that she knew who I was and loved me with everything she had.
”N.Y.” is old enough to understand what being part of a family really means. I hope she gets it before her precious grandmother is gone.
— Part of a Family in N.H.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Email your questions to [email protected], or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 3rd Street, Hermosa Beach, CA 90254. To find out more about Annie’s Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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