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She was wrapped up in her own world - oblivious to her own childhood wounds, and was very emotionally detached, critical, micromanaging and dismissing. I have and am working through these things, but I know she still has her own unaddressed emotional issues and hurts.

My main goal is not to try to repair every little bit of damage, but to reach her and simply to improve our relationship before she is gone. I want to know I did everything I could to love her and of course, there is, unquestionably, some bit of selfish desire to see her acknowledge me fully and in a loving manner.

The desire is two-fold, for her and for me, and I'd like to know how to encourage this step. She is definitely able to understand - even if her memory isn't best - what it is we talk about. I'd like to get through before she is mentally worse or totally gone. Any been there, done that folks out there?! Thank you!

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Oblivious to her own childhood wounds, eh? Yes, that strikes a chord or two with me.

On good days, I managed to keep to my resolution to give my mother the affection and, especially, the approval that I eventually realised was the only thing that made her happy. On less good days, the frustration with her detachment from reality and all the rest of it, made taking care of her very hard work.

I'm not sure you can hope to shift her behaviour or perspective; but you can adapt the way you see her and the way you speak to her. Every time you're gentle and loving, it will give you something comforting to look back on. Aim for that, and then any other issues you can resolve, or even begin to understand better, will be a bonus.
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Remember that her ability to make new memory is disappearing--but the oldest memories will be the ones that last the longest. I recall my brother who had Parkinson's and memory issues was able to let go of some hangups he'd been carrying for years--his daughter-in-law said that it was a shame that he had to lose his mental sharpness to get to the point, but she was grateful for the peace that he gained. If I were in your shoes, I'd ask about her oldest memories--her parents and grandparents, things that would take her back maybe before the difficult issues. And pray that any difficult recollections will be forgotten.
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My mother doesn't go in for flowers or even candy. But bring her an iced coffee from Panera or Dunkin Donuts or even McDonald's drive-up window and she'll be your biggest fan. Whatever your Mom hankers for that she can't provide for herself these days - that's the ticket!
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Maggie's comment reminded me that as my mother was aging and life became more challenging, I began purchasing bouquets of flowers for every visit. Between their beauty and fragrance, it made a world of difference. She always perked up, smiled broadly and became so energized.

Mom was a gardener for years and I'm sure she missed being able to grow her own flowers.
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Blessings right on back to you and mom.
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MaggieMarshall.... had I been the other kind of daughter, your answer would have been so right on... I do appreciate a good kick in the butt when it's called for! LOL... glad you responded again, I know you always have great advice here... and I appreciate what you have offered. She does love little gifts sprinkled here and there... I will do more of it... and keep "safe and happy" as the best medicine possible. Blessings to you!
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Jocelyn, kind response from you considering the harshness of my reply. I misunderstood your post and went back ten years to a short-time walking buddy I had whose goal was more twisted than kind. Now for a new answer from a different perspective.

Mom was with for one tough year before she died. As her dementia worsened, she became lost to me. Long before she passed peacefully in her sleep. Unlike you, my mom was an angel walking. I was her only. We were each other's biggest fans. So, with her lost to me, what could I do?

I decided on "safe and happy." If I could make her feel even just one of those things, I was on the right track for both of us. I kidded with her, poked a bit of very good natured fun at her, made her fave foods as often as her restricted diet would allow. "Mom! Guess what you're having tonight!" Bought her bunches of flowers every few weeks...I'd pick her up a cheap pair of dangly ear rings at Walgreens..buy her an inexpensive article of clothing from Blair. In short, I pleased her with pretties, as she, with her southern heritage called little gifts.

I'm thinking that, along with the other excellent advice you've gotten here, that a few and occasional pretties thrown in can't hurt. Her surprise and your generosity -- in light of your troubled relationship -- may be healthy food for both your hearts.

I wish you well.
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Jocelyn, I wish your mother a speedy recovery. That fall she took in July sounds like a pretty painful one.
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Well, MaggieMarshall, I sure got your goat! Don't be so quick to think the worst... and respond accordingly. I did clearly say that “my main goal is not to try to repair every little bit of damage, but to reach her and simply to improve our relationship before she is gone..."

It is not my desire to drag us through some in depth process of rehashing everything. I am seeing her come to the end of her days... and frankly... she is the one who is suffering more than I am. None of her kids call her or write to her because she doesn’t know how to relate heart to heart with us. She is too busy being important or smart or “just fine all the time” ... and “never lonely.”

CarlaCB said it right “I don't think Jocelyne's purpose is to clear the air. I think it's to set the relationship on a different basis than what happened in the past.”

I AM getting much comfort in loving and caring for her. I do look into her eyes and tell her I love her, and give her plenty of chances to reciprocate…. and with no strings attached. I just wanted to hear what others would have to say and I appreciate all who have reminded me kindly not to set my hopes up too high.

Sendme2help: I love your quote from Scripture… perfectly applicable. My mom is doing better. She took a fall on July 9th, down 6 steps, broke 3-4 ribs and her collar bone, so she’s at the nursing home until her oxygen level improves. She’s very tough and is pretty much back to her feisty self!

GardenArtist: Quoting you “I often wonder how many issues with our parents arose and became problematic after psychoanalysis became more well known …” I hear you.

This is just a sincere request, wanting to learn how to connect in a way we never have before. That’s my whole point… and I am very thankful for all the great advice I have already received.
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I often wonder how many issues with our parents arose and became problematic after psychoanalysis became more well known, after celebrities published memoirs about relationships with parents, and after sharing personal family relationships became more of an acceptable norm.
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Jocelyn, how is your mom doing? How are you?
Be sure not to isolate as her caregiver, it is good to reach out for support.
Have you visited: " My whine today is..."
You could help others also, just by sending hugs!
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As far as it concerns you, be at peace with all people.
You might have to change your expectations of your mom.
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I agree with Carla cb,- approach her as a peer. I've tried to get some sort of apology from my mom and have given up. We just have different views on child rearing and affection. I now deal with her on an " as is "basis . 93 is pretty old to change. I'd just shower her with all the love or attention you are able to and don't set yourself up for expecting any reciprocation.
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It is never too late to try and reach some common ground.... as to her validating you for being her daughter, maybe you will have to do that yourself...I had an awful relationship with my dad.... but did the things I was comfortable with as he aged..... he never would have 'gone back in time' and owned anything he did or didn't do..... that was now how he saw himself in the world...
But I 'get' what you are saying..... there are some great suggestions here, make new memories... those are the ones you have some say-so about..... I do understand how you feel, but I also know that thru my own therapy, I finally just accepted " I just didn't get what I needed" , then that opened up an avenue to create a different attitude toward him, if nothing else.... I hope some one posts something that resonates with your situation and you find a path to get some of what you need and want...... sending you hugs from one daughter to another....
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I don't think Jocelyn's purpose is to clear the air. I think it's to set the relationship on a different basis than what happened in the past.

My mother is very much the way Jocelyn described hers. That said, I have in my adult life always had a better relationship with her than any of my siblings had or have. If you're waiting for her to "see" you or to acknowledge the wrongs committed in the past, I think you need to forget that. My siblings who are still waiting for that are ... well, still waiting.

When my mother was younger, I took the approach of treating her as a peer and investing in understanding what was going on in her life, rather than expecting her to parent me in any way. That worked well for as long as it lasted. We bonded, and still bond, over things we both enjoy, such as food and dogs and certain TV shows.

Once she became too old to really have a life I'm not involved in, I switched over to the approach recommended by CareyB. Sometimes we go over old photos, including some from before I was born, and she tells me about the people she knew and the places she's seen. My grandparents, her early relationship with my father, her first years of motherhood, etc. If what you're really seeking is acknowledgment and recognition from your mother, be warned that this approach probably won't work for you. Mom and I brought a bunch of Mom's old photos over on an overnight visit to one of my sisters, and instead of feeling it was a bonding experience my sister was angry. She felt the photos, were distancing, putting something between her and my mother that prevented her from getting my mother's attention on the visit. So I think what works may depend somewhat on how deep your wounds are. If you're able to let go of childhood hurts and be with your Mom as she is, who she is, it will be much easier for you. But I know that's easier said than done.
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I'm betting there is nothing your dad would enjoy more.
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Carey, you raised an important issue. There are memories and facts of parents, grandparents and farther back that we might never otherwise know if we didn't have these discussions with our parents.

ArmyRetired, you also raise some interesting issues about family history. These kinds of discussions can really be bonding experiences.

I've often wished I had more discussions with my mother and grandmother about my maternal family, who emigrated to the US to escape the Turkish massacres. Those details are lost forever; I don't even remember the names of some of the distant relatives who were born here in the States.

I think the next time I take Dad for a Dairy Queen I'll take a note pad and ask him to tell me more about his family when he was growing up. I do know that his relatives emigrated from Ireland.
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We repair damage done to us in our childhoods through therapy, using a trained and experienced therapist as a screen onto which we project feelings, experiences and whatnot AS WE SUBJECTIVELY RE CALL THEM. It is both dangerous (to you) and unfair to you both to try to do any "working through" with your mom, especially at 93.

Make new memories and experiences. Be there because you want to be, not because you're waiting for mom to apologize or tell you that you're a good kid after all. This board is littered with the broken lives of those who gave up careers, marriages, retirement savings and the chance to have their own families to try to get one iota of validation from their abusive and/or inattentive parents.
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I believe the best way to a final connection with your mom is with genealogy and family history based on your post. Focus on what you both feel confortable with and leave any unhappy past experiences where they belong, in the past.
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My difficult mom and I have our best conversations when she gets to tell me about her childhood. I try to think of questions that no one will be able to answer when she's gone, like how old my great grandparents were when they died, or what they did for a living. I have plenty of bad memories, but it will be sad when I have no connection to my past left. Even if my mom's memories are dramatic and skewed, they are still better than talking about ailments or more recent imagined betrayals.
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Lord. So you wait until she's 93!!! to clear the air. I'm sorry, but I find this sooo self-serving. And cruel to mom. At least you know you're being selfish. Perhaps at 93 she'll even REMEMBER some of the things you try to clear up. Where were you 40 years ago?

Can't you get comfort from loving and caring for her in spite of the apparently strained relationship you had? Looking into her eyes . . . Seeing gratitude? Getting peaceful reconciliation from that?

It makes me sad.
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This is a challenging issue, I think.

Perhaps you can work on creating new, more positive memories than can more or less push the more traumatic ones aside. What do the two of you enjoy doing together? Your avatar, if that's the two of you, suggests two happy people. How can you leverage that?

Even if it's just quiet times spent together listening to music, walking, visiting a garden, going to a dog park, baking cookies or a cake ....just every day, undramatic adventures that blend your interests and mold new ones....might help.

Perhaps work on creating new positive memories once a day, or even twice a day. What about other family members - are they close enough to visit? Family get-togethers (if not too many people to be overwhelming) can also help replace the newer bonding experiences with older traumatic ones.

I've found that if I can find something good out of bad memories, that helps "restructure" them in my memory. By turning bad into good I think of what I might have learned from the experience, how it can make me a better, more insightful or more compassionate person....concepts like that.

I think there can often be good sides to bad experiences, but they're hidden and have to be searched out and cultivated.

I hope others respond; this is a challenging question and I'd like to know how others hand handled this kind of situation.
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