Despite Our Differences

Relationships are tricky. Especially when they involve parents.

Until I headed off to college, I had a closer relationship with my mother than my father. Although my father coached me during the four years I attended high school, we didn’t talk about much outside of sports. My father got to know me, the student-athlete. But I’m not sure he knew me off the court.

When I needed a sounding board, I went to my mother. I can’t imagine how many nights I came home late from a date, and my mom was there to greet me. If she wasn’t too tired, I’d coax her into letting me cut an orange into smaller pieces and sprinkle powdered sugar over it. We’d sit across the table from each other and chat. We didn’t stop until my father awoke from the laughter and sent us to bed.

I’m not exactly sure when the relationship changed.

Years would pass. I served a mission in Germany. Returned to get married and finish college. Eventually I took a job in Seattle and became the only sibling to move further than an hour away from my parents.

Seattle is different than Ogden, Utah. I felt like I could be myself. I no longer felt the pressure to act or speak a certain way. I even got my ear pierced. Of course it was the first thing my father noticed the next time we got together in Salt Lake City. But he respected my decisions even if he didn’t agree with them.

Yet, there’s a part of me that feels my mother isn’t quite sure what to make of my life. And that’s why I’m writing this as I attempt to make sense of the two relationships that are closest to me outside of my spouse and children.

My desire to come to terms with my feelings has taken a turn into complex and murky waters because my mother suffered a stroke about two months ago.

And now I stand on the outside looking in and wondering if I missed my opportunity to once again connect with my mother. What I’ve learned about strokes leaves me feeling part discouraged, part hopeful. Nobody really knows how the brain will respond and what percentage of normal she’ll return to. There are no quick fixes.

Despite our differences, I will appreciate whatever percentage of her returns. She’s able to move around with a cane and her speech is slowly returning.

And just maybe I don’t need to examine our relationship to they extent of putting a stamp of approval on it that we’d both agree on.  I wouldn’t change my mother and I don’t believe she’d change me.

I guess what I want is the chance to spend one more evening sitting across the table from her, chatting until my father puts a stop to it.