My mother’s breakdown came in the form of her screaming at me in the doctor’s office, as she was having eye-surgery. No kidding. She was the undergoing treatment, so as I sat there with her, and thought about her greatest fear, that of going blind, she screamed out what she thought might be her final words to me : “… you better lost some weight”! Truth.
I had not thought of the experience in terms of what she thought to be important as her dying words until I explained the situation to my 16-year-old son. When I told him why I was crying, he said, well maybe she thought she was dying. Unfortunately, that made everything THAT MUCH WORSE. Where were the loving thoughts? Where were “thanks for allowing me to live with you all these years,” or the praise for me as a mother or a wife or a daughter, who has taken care of her for almost 20 years? Her death-bed words to me were about my physical appearance.
None of those emotions boiled to the top of her fear, only the size of my rear end seemed to matter. Once again, I was being judged in terms of what someone thought of my appearance. In the big picture, the only logical connection I can find here is that maybe she thought that her eye issue came from being overweight much of her life, so her comment to me was a warning, that if I keep gaining weight, I might be headed in the same direction. Aaah, it was a loving gesture after all! Maybe I want that to be what she was thinking. I would truly hate to think otherwise, and have been trying not to since that day. I am greatly hurt, none the less.
Unfortunately, her fear about losing her sight makes me think about what it means to have sight. What exactly do we see when we look at other people. How do I want to be seen and remembered? Do my 15 extra pounds matter in the mind of others? Should I care? Is it something that I can control in protest? Should I wear a t-shirt that says ” I don’t care what you think about the way I look.” ?
Am I guilty of the same? Do I eliminate choices on the dating site, because of the immediate visceral response? Is there any way to avoid this emotional response to the physical? Death-bed confessional or not, my hope for her true intentions, I will never know. As she thankfully lived to tell another tale, and her eye sight has improved, I greatly hope that she can see me for who I truly am. At the same time, I truly hope that my bonus fifteen does not leave a bitter taste in her mouth, or embarrass her in some way. Either way, that is my hope for her. These several weeks later, I know that it doesn’t matter. Her ignorance, if it was that, does not define me, or who I am. I will continue to put my head down on my pillow at night, knowing that at least for those I love, I have done all that I can do.