Direct Connections: My Mother, My Daughter And Me

Happy Mother's Day

May 6, 2011 by

My mother always cared about her appearance. In the Hospice facility where she spent her last two weeks, the staff knew her as the woman who greeted her visitors wearing a stylish scarf and earrings. She jokingly recited a ditty she had learned from her 90-year old neighbor:

“A little powder, a little paint, Makes you look like what you ain’t.”

Food never stopped being of importance either. I drove around the streets of Denver looking for a place to find Pho for one of her last meals.

I inherited my mother’s adventurous and discriminating palate and love of beauty. My ability to shop successfully for myself and others came from the years of shopping with my mother in New York in the 50’s. Her feet were small – 71/2 quad – which meant she would always buy several new pairs of shoes on sale. The spectators and pumps, beautiful evening slippers, shiny patent heels stayed in their boxes, sprung tight with stretchers, waiting for the right occasion.

She loved books, art, interesting people and lively, informed discussion. She belonged to two book groups, often being the oldest member. Her book group members, the same age as my sister and me, talked about her insightful comments about the books they read.

I started to look like my mother a number of years ago. Now, when I walk into room with friends or relatives of my mother’s, I see their surprise as they recognize my mother in my face. Sometimes I say “Hi, Mom” when I see our shared smile in my mirror.

She approved and supported me emotionally as I raised my daughter on my own, always interested in how we were living our lives in Seattle, far away from Denver. That distance meant the two of them didn’t get to spend much time together during the early years of Erika’s life. 

But they developed a special bond at the end of her life. Erika remembers feeling proud that she could tempt my mother with poached eggs on toast after one of the increasingly frequent hospital episodes.  At the end, when Erika visited her in Hospice, my mother told her she admired her strength and called her a ‘survivor,’ a poignant recognition of earlier struggles in her granddaughter’s life.  At the end they shared silences filled with love, connected beyond words.

Perhaps all single parents don’t carry guilt the way I did.  In my darker days I worried about not imparting the same interest in good food, good books and beauty that I had gotten from mother.

But blood may well be thicker than water, as they used to say, because now that my daughter is 37, with a life and career of her own, we share many of the same things I shared with my mother.  Food still reigns.  We look at recipes with the same ravenous interest while her husband laughs at us. We read similar books and celebrate finding beautiful objects at bargain prices. The last time I visited her book-filled, art-adorned home, she served me the very best biscotti I had eaten since the last best ones my mother used to make.

About the Author

Rebecca Crichton Has Written 40 Articles For Us!

I try to stay aware of one main concept: We see things through different lenses. We get caught in our own belief systems and most of us are pretty attached to being right. I am one of those inveterate Life Long Learners. I like new ideas, new experiences, new people, new challenges.
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  1. No matter how sick my mother got she ALWAYS worried if her lipstick was fresh and her hair was combed….and my oldest son was able to form a special bond with my mother in the last few months she lived with us. In fact he wrote his college essay about that time. I LOVED reading your post!

    • Rebecca Crichton

      Marianne, Yes the lipstick habit never stopped. I admit I don’t even wear lipstick unless I’m doing something professional or getting all dressed up. Those special bonds between grandparents and grandchildren, are so meaningful. Thanks for the kind words. I love the video!

  2. Rebecca – Fabulous photo of your mom with her tiara! Echoing what Serena wrote .. it’s quite lovely to see how interests were influenced and passed along for 3 generations. Love that your atsGf posts reflect those as well. Thanks for sharing some of the “how and why.”

    • Rebecca Crichton

      Thanks Toby,
      Erika visited this weekend and went out with my friends on Friday and helped cook and entertain another group of my friends Saturday. I feel so grateful that she enjoys my friends. I told her how touched I was that she wanted to be with us and she looked surprised. “Of course I love your friends!” she assured me. I also loved my mother’s cronies and I see that is another connection I can be thankful for.

  3. I love how the similarities are woven through two generations. Nice to see that beautiful daughter-to-mother-to-grandmother connection. – SerenaK

    • Rebecca Crichton

      Thanks. I love connecting the dots to see the patterns through the generations.

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