Gwen Eastlake-Decrow shares a story of her grief and the memories she shared with her mother. When she was invited to a Mother-Daughter tea Gwen comes to the realization that she now has neither, but she warms her heart by relishing the memories and having her own cup of tea.
by Gwen Eastlake-DeCrow
I was recently invited to a Mother-Daughter Tea. Being invited broke my heart.
I have no mother, no daughter to take.
It is one week shy of the one-year anniversary of my mother’s death. She was 61, and an artist. She fought pancreatic cancer for six months. We were close even though she lived in Ohio and I live in south Florida. She was peaceful and dignified as she coped with the disease that ultimately ravaged her body.
I took time off work to fly to her home every month to be with her and I was so glad I could be there, helping to care for her, through her final week.
Over the past eleven months, which also introduced me to my 40th birthday, I have been working through my varied emotions in dealing with the fact that my mom is no longer on this earth. I mostly get by looking at the sky and talking to her as if she is still here; as if she sees me and knows what I’m saying to her.
I am pretty successful at not feeling sorry for myself. I have been married eleven years to a wonderful, supportive man. His family and mine are a great source of comfort, even though my family is very small and does not live near us.
Prior to my mother’s death, my husband David and I came to the realization we couldn’t conceive children. Although we went through many fertility treatments, none were successful. David and I experienced a sense of loss we never anticipated. I felt displaced as a woman without children. Our life together took an unexpected new direction.
My mom was there for me to talk to. I was grateful she never put pressure on us to make her a grandmother, and fortunately my brother and his wife soon had a baby that my mom could know and love. David and I moved forward successfully as a childless couple.
Ten years into my marriage, and just shortly after her own 40-year wedding anniversary, my mom died. Following her death, I had to have a hysterectomy to treat recurring endometriosis and related problems. 2005 was a year of final endings for me.
I inherited some of my mother’s art and a few of her belongings which help me to still feel close to her. Included are scraps of memorabilia that a mother treasures from her daughter’s childhood and saves forever, thinking someday her daughter will be able to share them with her own children.
I sit alone with these treasures, sifting them gently through my hands and decide to have a cup of tea.