Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Did I disappoint you?

Mother, did I disappoint you? 

In the film Benjamin Button, when the character of Daisy is on her deathbed, her grown daughter asks her this question, a quiver in her voice, as if she fears the truth.

I am pierced by the question. 

It is impossible, I think, if your elder escapes cancer or heart or other sudden system failure and instead declines year by year into frail old age and eventual death, to not disappoint that elder. There is no way to make the world for them as it was when they were able to march out and embrace it on their own. There will always be the request they swallowed rather than ask us for one more thing, the moment they wanted our attention and we were caught up in our own lives, the shop, the film, the friend they would like to have visited but couldn't get there on their own. 

I live with the aching knowledge that I disappoint my mother, 88, and my aunt, 92, all the time. The true grace, the thing that brings me to tears, is that they forgive me, again and again.



  1. i think there is a problem with the comments. a couple of comments left here have not posted. if you left a comment and don't see it, can you send again? thanks so much!

  2. Then again, maybe we merely believe ourselves to be disappointing, while our parents don't see us that way at all??

  3. I was just thinking that this reminded me of a poem...
    and I did try to look for it after.
    I won't give up.

    you have a tender heart.

  4. This post just stabbed me. This is exactly how I feel about my mother. It hurt to read it, and yet it was comforting to know someone else feels that way, too.

    I know my mother knows how much I love her, and how I wish I could make things easier and better for her. I know your mother knows that about you, too.