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Sunday, May 1, 2011

A Daughter's Forgiveness

The afternoon breeze swirled about her delicate body.  Her long, lustrous blonde hair flowing in the wind caught the attention of the maintenance men mowing the grass in the garden surrounding the nursing home.  A gorgeous woman in her early thirties.
She approached the entrance door.  I glanced at her from my office window that faced the facility main door.  My gaze fixed on the visitor. The woman walked elegantly, as if modeling her white causal suit, perfectly complementing her golden stilettos. 

My phone rang shortly after the woman had entered the facility.

“Yes, Lisa?”  I answered to the receptionist.
“Ms. McLaren’s daughter, Laura, is here to see you.”
“Oh!” I blinked. “Laura, the daughter who lives in New York!”  

Ms. McLaren was a new resident in the nursing home.  She had lived alone in her own home, until a recent incident in which she was found by a neighbor, lying on the floor in her garage.  Ms McLaren had apparently fallen, and hurt her foot.  She was unable to move to seek help and remained on the floor for several hours. 

Ms. McLaren was often confused.  She had history of Alzheimer’s dementia, according to the medical records.  Until the incident she had managed to live independently, driving and taking care of her personal affairs.  After that, her physician recommended that she have twenty-four hour care and supervision.

“I’m glad you came to see your mother,” I told Laura. 

“I know she can no longer live alone.” Laura said, her tone revealing her sadness. “I knew there would be a time we’d come to this point.  I tried many times to convince her to come and live with me, but she always refused.” 

“It seems that this is the right time.” I said, optimistically while leading Laura toward her mother’s room. 

I watched as Laura visited with her mother.  Their encounter was cordial, not warm as I had expected.  Ms. McLaren was uncharacteristically outspoken and sarcastic. 

“Now what?” Ms. McLaren glared at Laura. “You have a busy life. I can take care of myself.” Ms. McLaren’s tone was harsh.

I left the room to leave them in privacy, hoping that mother and daughter would be able to come to terms—as it was evident that there was a great deal of animosity between them.

The next day Laura unexpectedly stopped by my office.  I glanced twice at her, trying to make sure she was the same woman I had seen the day before.  Today she wore no make-up.  Her hair was tousled, and she wore baggy sweat pants, a t-shirt and tennis shoes.  

She reminded me of the Cinderella story, but in reverse.  But more amazingly, I noticed that her face and lips showed clear signs of cosmetic surgeries that would have been easily covered with cosmetics.

What’s going on? I pondered. 

“There are some things you need to know,” Laura said, gently. “My mother has always been abusive to me, my entire life, since my first memory.”

I paid close attention to Laura’s words, and relinquished my resistance of showing  sympathy.   My heart reached out to her as she described in detail the challenging life she had with her mother. 

“I had no self-esteem.  I always felt like a looser.  I underwent multiple cosmetic surgeries, trying to look ‘pretty’ as my mother always made me believe I was ‘ugly.’  I never married as I could never manage relationship with my mother’s constant demeaning comments of where it would ultimately go.  I was close to committing suicide until I finally realized I needed help.” 

I continued listening to Laura.  I couldn’t  find comforting words to say even if I felt it were appropriate to say something.  I was clueless about Laura and her mother’s past issues.

Laura told me that she underwent psychotherapy for many years, in which she began to finally understand her personal and psychological problems and, more importantly, how to cope with these problems.  Later, she initiated her own business as an interior decorator, and relocated to the East coast where her career and life began to thrive. 

“She is my mother, and I cannot turn my back to her.”  Her sullen eyes began to spill tears that she gently swept away with the back of her delicate hand. “I have forgiven my mother a long time ago, and even if she continues to speak hurtful words, all I feel inside me is compassion. Compassion because she had a traumatic childhood as well, worse than mine.”

Laura’s green eyes shone as though two suns rising in a warm summer morning.  I saw her real beauty, beyond the cosmetics and skillfully crafted facades. 

Her inner beauty.  
Laura’s heart had healed, and her wise words lead me to think that she had waited for that moment to return to her mother. This time, to take care of her. 

The next morning, Laura and her mother stopped by my office. 

“Thanks for everything,” Laura said.  Ms McLaren smiled, but remained quiet.

Laura wheeled her mother to a shuttle parked in front of the main entrance.  They would head to the airport, to catch their flight to New York.  

That was the beginning of a new chapter in their lives.  The chapter of a mother and daughter’s reconciliation, I hoped. 


Shanda said...

This was so touching: a daughter willing to forgive a lifetime of abuse and be a caregiver to the abuser. I pray the mother will also be able to relinquish the hardness and unforgivness in her heart that caused so much damage to her daughter.
So well written that I felt I was there with you.

Mary Aalgaard said...

Laura had to work so hard to come to that place of acceptance and compassion. That's an amazing story. I hope, too, that they made peace and lived together in a good relationship.

Karin said...

What a wonderful story of inner beauty radiating compassion, kindness and forgiveness! Glory to God for the work He does in people's lives! May that beauty rub off on mom and help her healing before her time comes!

Mari said...

What a story! The daughters forgiveness is very convicting. I hope things are going well for them.

Amrita said...

This post will remain deep in my heart.

I want to congratulate you for last months special posts

Mariette VandenMunckhof-Vedder said...

Dearest Doris,

What an inner beaty discovery! Great for Laura to manage all this, despite the scars on her soul. She discovered what life is all about; in time!

Lots of love,


Elizabeth Mueller said...

Whoa... I'm so glad I stumbled across your blog. It's so inspiring and uplifting. Thank you for sharing....


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Doris .. a time to heal, a time to love and a time to care - this is a wonderful story of a woman, who took that time ... to work out for herself what was going on with her mother, and thus herself.

So many of us can do this too .. and understand those who cannot, or won't ..

Wonderful post - and a necessary one to be read .. thanks Hilary

Arkansas Patti said...

What a beautifully told story and one to learn from. Things seldom are as they seem. My initial response was to think the daughter was self centered and didn't care for her mother. How wrong first impressions can be.

MunirGhiasuddin said...

I hope that Laura and her Mom don't think of the past and even if they do, it is a couple of good times they may have had. Forgiveness is great but I think it has to be coupled by forgetting as well.

Anne Gallagher said...

Okay, well just, wow! Thanks for sharing.

Unknown said...

i am so enjoying your blog. I think I mentioned my youngest daughter is a social worker and is bi-polar. For years she told everyone it was all her mother and father's fault. A social worker would know different you would think. We when she said that it was the disorder speaking of course. She was advised to face us with those accusations, by her sisters and therapist and she did. She grew up in the same family as the others and that was her perspective. We were hurt but thanks to education we understand and she is back at home living with us and the director of a family shelter. I am so proud of her and things are good. I was guilt of shutting myself away from her in fear of more hurt. She has taught us much. Life has so many things to deal with. We just keep on keeping on. Thanks for the place to vent.

Ann said...

What a brave woman/daughter to take her mother back into her life. I hope she can hang onto the peace she has worked so hard to achieve.

Sarah Allen said...

So beautiful! Thank you for sharing.

Sarah Allen
(my creative writing blog)

John Paul McKinney said...

Thanks again for this post. And thanks for the follow of my blog. My wife is a social worker, who I've told about your blog. It never fails to get us in a conversaton about a similar client or situation. Thank you.

Toni said...

Wow. That touched home. I wonder if I might just leave my mom on a street in New York in her wheel chair and walk away!

Note to self: Never let anyone discharge Mom to my care!

Deb Shucka said...

Such a powerful story. One I can relate to all too well. I know Laura will find a new layer of healing in her decision to care for her mother, regardless of what her mom is willing or able to do.

M Pax said...

Wow, what a story. I'd love to learn what happened next.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Not to sound cynical, but I hope the daughter keeps her therapist on speed dial. It was necessary to forgive her mother in order to preserve her own sanity, but unfortunately, her mother probably hasn't changed, and there will continue to be trying times ahead for the daughter.

Libby said...

moving story!

Anonymous said...

Interesting story. Lots of deep layers here.

Terri Tiffany said...

Wow! Wonderful story! I noticed that your writing is soaring as well!

Anonymous said...

Oh my, Doris, for a minute I thought you were going back to the beginning of the alphabet and starting with 'A' again....nice post.

Toyin O. said...

What a beautiful story, I hope God continues to bless Laura's relationship with her mother.

Missed Periods said...

It's very beautiful that she could forgive her mother. Very inspiring. I wish her the best.

Ebenyado said...

Hi friend,great post you have here.It's really nice to be back once more to your lovely blog.
Hope you good.It has been a while we since connected so I decided to pass by and say hello and also let you know that, I have just posted the "5" steps to mind liberation so come check it up and comment. Will be following you and expecting to share and learn from you respectively.Have a wonderful and fruitful day hoping to hear from your lovely self again. A million thanks in advance.


Minhas Receitas Dia a Dia said...

Muito bonito este post.Passei para desejar um bom fim de semana. Abraços, Marta.

Rita said...

So many times those that are abused tend to abuse! So sad, but it happens. What a wonderful ending to a long and abusive relationship. How great that she could forgive and hopefully they were able to mend their relationship. Thanks for posting this.

the other side of me said...

I really hope they could get back to each other,forget the past and move on with a new life

All the best to them :)

A Plain Observer said...

sad, very sad. Sad that some abuse who they should love and care for most. I hope that is the beginning of a reconciliation, but I would be skeptical. That is their relationship, that is how the mother communicates, it's hard to break a life time habit