My mother was an artist. She tended to her children the way she had tended to her doll babies when she was a child: she dressed them, arranged them, and used them as models for her paintings. My father believed that sons were everything. After 2 daughters and 4 miscarriages, I was the seventh disappointment.
When I was just over 30 years old, my mother was admitted to hospital with congestive heart failure. During the days of testing and waiting for results of testing, I took her pencils and paper to pass the time. Not interested, she waved them away and said, “You draw me.” I was well familiar with her dismissive tone but as I worked on the drawing, I witnessed in myself a shift…a claiming for myself a title of ‘artist.’ The drawing captured the essence of my mother’s emotional and physical state.
“Lemme see,” she said and reached for the pad. I looked down at the drawing and hesitated; I knew, because it did capture her so well, that she would not live much longer. With reluctance I handed the pad to her and watched her face; she saw it, too. She also saw that I was an artist in my own right. But, ever my mother, she quickly regained her throne: she took a blue ballpoint pen from her bedside and wrote across the bottom of the drawing in her large loopy handwriting…my name…preemting my signing my own artwork.
The shift, however, had already taken place. “Mama, that drawing is Mine.” Our eyes met. And she stepped down from her throne and said, “You’re right, baby; it is.” A few days later, she died.
Stunned and cold, we all caravanned to my old house. I had not been home in several years and many aspects had changed. As a birthday gift to my mother the year before, my father and brother had designed and built a large deck space off the kitchen, high above the garden below, which wrapped around the mulberry tree and included sitting alcoves placed for ideal viewing of the wisteria and sunsets. I was at first overcome with jealousy for the love expressed by such a project….and then overcome by sorrow that she would never again enjoy the space. I would never see her enjoy the space. That thought quickly led to: I would never know her love or approval. Time was up. My chance was gone.
The ground opened deep and I fell through. I cried so hard and strong, standing beneath the mulberry tree, that I threw up and staggered inside. Like a starving man in search of food, I raced to her room and grabbed nightgowns and pillows…anything that might smell like her. Nothing. Nothing consoled me. I was frantic and terrified. It was the end …over… and I was left unloved…forever.
Three days later, my daughter, Sarah, was conceived. (Yes, I’m sure.) She may not be my mother reincarnated, but my mother definitely informed my daughter’s soul. The competitive spirit, the need to be the main show, to have the final word, to always make it my fault…that’s my mother. When she was young and I would be telling her what I thought or felt about something, she would reply, “Well, when I was Your mother…”
This possibility was an amusing tale to share with therapists but when Sarah’s life fell apart a year ago, and it came to me to take her back in and take care of her, I realized the gift I have been given. I can heal my relationship with my mother through my relationship with Sarah. I have been given the gift of fore-giving.
Okay I’m playing with the words, perhaps, but I have been looking at the evidence of generational issues in my family. Then, backing away from the situations specific to my family and looking at the dynamics of incarnations and karma, whether you believe in reincarnation or even karma, or not, I think you can accept that ‘sins of the father’ can be visited on the son: Abuse begets abuse; neglect begets neglect.
I was thinking about how my mother treated me and I extrapolated that out to how she was treated (based on stories she told about her mother and father). Then I thought about how, if souls reincarnate, why they reincarnate: to either ‘get it right this time’ or to pay for what they did in their previous incarnations.
Sarah and I have long gone back and forth about whether she was born with my mother’s soul. IF she has my mother’s soul, clearly her soul is here to do some rectifying. But then, what about the reason for my mother’s treatment of me; how was she treated by her parents? When my mother was a child, she was often shipped off to family, or friends of family, and spent much of her time alone. Her mother was usually visiting other family, elsewhere.
As for her father, I have long felt a kinship to him; he was an artist (and architect) and had a scientist’s mind and curiosity. However, he was a bit sadistic; there are stories about how he would wire up a car battery to the chicken’s watering pan. I suspect he may not have been a very loving father. Who knows, I may have been born with his soul to pay the debt he owed my mother.
If I look at all of this from a distance, without attachment, I can see how one generation plays into the next and how the law of Karma can explain why.
Then, it dawned.
What if I stand in the infinite, the eternal, the non-time space and, holding in awareness all my incarnations through history as well as into the future, and I forgive all those souls who have hurt me and therefore owe me a karmic debt?
Then, what if I ask all those souls whom I have hurt through time, (those souls to whom I owe a karmic debt), to forgive me?
“Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”
We’re talking a whole lot of forgiving…past, present, and future. If enough people heal the wounds, past and future…
It gives “six degrees of separation’ a new application.
(The image above is a place card for a showing of my mother’s artwork. That portrait included in the card is from the sketch I made in the hospital.)