Scars endure a long time. Last night, I held a ninety six year old's hand as she had a break down. Strength holds most of the time. Memories attack some days. Her mother was a widow with seven children, when she had an affair. She allowed herself to become pregnant thinking the man would marry her. Instead, he flew away.
The scars of never being kissed by a mother, until the last moments before her death rub raw some days. Never feeling the love of a mother haunt her. Only in the last moments of life, did the mother acknowledge her youngest daughter's stamp on her life, "I don't know what I would have done without you." As the single caregiver in her mother's final illness, she received the only kiss on her cheek.
I've known this story for a year, yet tears still form in my eyes. Most days, she doesn't mention her hard childhood. She resembled her father and her mother resented her. The half brothers and sisters ignored her. She found love in her husband and three daughters, but the deep well of love never full because of a mother's lack of love, along with never knowing her father's name.
We think the problems we have today are unique to this generation, but they are not. I only think that maybe they are much more common than the generations before now. My mother suffered abuse,her older brother more. As I work with the elderly, I find more and more, they didn't have the wonderful Norman Rockwell environment that we love to believe. Alcohol ruins many families throughout the centuries. Unwanted children embitter mothers.
I only urge us to watch our words with children. I know a smiling face, like Teddy's covers tears. But sometimes late at night, a comforting hand years later uncovers the tears. Teddy never will live to ninety six. Some will survive. Be kind. Stories creep behind those faces you see every day.