“Never doubt the softness of this Love’s strength to pass through any obstacle…” -Kathryn Brady

8a660b37da8f23013bbaa08422973223Recently, I texted my brother, letting him know I had an injury. Being 2000 miles away, I believe it is important to keep in touch with my loved ones. This illness renders my physical existence precarious to say the least. One injury, one errant bug could easily take me out. I would rather they not be surprised.

When I told him about the injury, I added our predictable Jaffe humor, “you cannot keep a good woman down, especially a descendent of Beatrice.” My mother, Beatrice, was a complicated woman, born in the Bronx in 1924 to a family with immigrant parents and all male siblings. Her relationship with her mother was not very strong from what I have heard. My mother had been a tomboy. I remember seeing a photograph of her as a small child with a broken arm after she had fallen out of a window in the Bronx. I probably had more in common with this young girl than I ever realized and I am realizing it more and more as I am maturing and that it is not a detriment.

My relationship with my mother was extremely conflicted. Perhaps she was less comfortable with girls and women than boys and men. I remember overhearing her when I was young saying she cared for her daughter, but her sons, she adored. I remember not being devastated by hearing this, but feeling affirmed, because I already knew this. My mother was not subtle, you pretty much knew where you stood with her.

In all fairness, the package I represented to her was challenging to say the least. I was an emotional, overly-sensitive, dependent child with more demands than my mother could meet at thirty years old with three children and a marriage that overwhelmed her. My mother was the glue of the family, the liaison who brought all of the factions in her family together. My mother was loved in the family and the community.

The older I get, the closer I feel to my mother and I believe she feels the same way. The greatest gift I ever gave her was a daughter. When Casey was born by cesarean section, I was awake during surgery, but given a general anesthetic afterword. I’m sure I infected the anesthesiologist with my fears. That is the only way I can understand the circumstances. Being out of it, Casey was placed in an incubator for two days. When I found this out, I immediately sent for my mother. She was running errands when she got my message, packed her bag, left a note for my father and ran to the airport. This effort set the scene for a relationship with her granddaughter that brought deep redemption to her life. She was able to do for Casey, what she could never have done for me. I am tremendously grateful for this relationship, of which I was a mere bystander.

At a certain point in my emotional and spiritual development, I realized that on a soul level I must have chosen my mother. The thought was particularly difficult to grapple with, but being a believer in the process, I reflected on. Over the next few years, it started to occur to me that one of my mother’s greatest strengths was that she was incredibly strong in a forceful and effective sense. Recognizing that power is a central issue in my development, it made perfect sense that I chose her to model this. She was not a nurturing mother and I also recognize the curriculum of opposites. When a soul is wanting to learn self-love, they often choose parents who are incapable of providing this quality externally, so the person needs to find it internally.

After years of resenting my mother for not being who I wanted her to be, I can finally love her for who she is/was. In that way, she can be much more of who she truly is, for which I am tremendously grateful.

I find that as I become more me, she is becoming more her; after sixty years I can finally in my heart let her become Beatrice.