Being a Daughter


It hit me when I held the door open for the sweet, little lady. “Thank you, darlin’” she said. I smiled and watched her walk slowly to her car.

I wanted to follow her, open the car door for her, load the groceries into her trunk.

But her image had become blurry though my tears.

I whispered, “I miss being a daughter.”

Of all the things I have been, of all the hats I have worn, being a daughter was the constant.

Until one day.

I had an idyllic childhood. Almost every weekend of my youth was spent at our fishing camp on Grand Isle. My father and brother would be on the water at first light, leaving mother and daughter ashore. We filled the sunny days collecting shells on the beach or running crab traps in the surf, and the cloudy ones playing cards or assembling a puzzle. And talking. Always talking.

I didn’t realize during my teen years just how special my mom was. But my friends did, showing it by the hours they spent in her company.

When I moved away as a young bride the telephone kept us connected, and despite the outrageous cost of long distance in the 1980s, my husband never complained. He knew our bond was strong.

She doted on my children when they came along, even braving the delivery room when my firstborn arrived. I could not have imagined that experience without her.

I promised my father I would take care of her when he prepared to leave this world. And when the doctors told us just a few years later that she had only a couple of years to live, there was no hesitation. She moved in with us. I remember my husband’s words. “What’s the worst thing that can happen? She’ll live ten more years and drive us crazy.” He was close. She was under our roof for eight years, becoming part of every moment of every day.

Perhaps it’s a Southern thing, or maybe I was just overly attached to my mama, but being a daughter was a defining part of my identity. It was the one thing I had been for my entire life.

Until one day.

When I wasn’t a daughter any more.

My grief was eased the lifetime of memories and the promises of my faith. In my heart she was always with me. But my days felt empty. It took me years to identify that void. Once I did, I sought out every opportunity to again feel like a daughter. Like holding open doors for little old ladies.

A few days ago I bumped into a friend – who was shopping with her mother. I didn’t know this, but our mothers had been friends. When she introduced me as “Mary’s daughter,” her mother’s face lit up with the familiar smile of someone who knew my mom. And the empty place in me filled with love and pride and other emotions I don’t even have names for.

For ten years, I thought I wasn’t a daughter any more. All it took was a simple introduction to remind me that I will always be my mother’s daughter.

June, 2005

Happy birthday, Mom.

19 thoughts on “Being a Daughter

  1. Carol Bodensteiner

    So true, Lisha. My mother passed away almost 10 years ago now, and left a void that is so difficult to live with. I have adopted other older women and built those friendships as a way to compensate. But look at that picture of you and your mom. The tilt of your heads. Your smiles. Your eyes. You are definitely your mother’s daughter, and you always will be.

    Reply
  2. Leanne@crestingthehill

    that was just lovely – I’m so glad my mum is still around, and I certainly appreciate her more now than I did in my younger days. We’ve gotten a lot closer over the last 10 years and I know I will miss her terribly when she isn’t around anymore.

    Reply
  3. loisaltermark

    What a gorgeous post, Lisha. It should come with a Kleenex warning! You will always be your mother’s daughter – and she will always be your mom. xo

    Reply
  4. nfhill

    You were and are fortunate. Your relationship with your Mom sounds as though it was blessed, and you have memories to treasure. I think you will always be your mother’s daughter.

    Reply
  5. sizzlesue15

    Oh I know how you feel as I lost my mum 29 years ago. You sound like you had such a beautiful bond and I can feel for you. There are times I’m sure you think ‘oh I will just tell mum’ and she isn’t there. I read recently about a woman who when she had those thoughts wrote a letter to her mum in a journal so she felt like she was still sharing thoughts with her. I’m sure your mum would be so proud of you. xx

    Reply
  6. doreenb8

    I am cherishing every day I have left with my mom, she lives so far away but I am working on (bribing) her to move closer or in with us. We lost my dad 2 years ago.
    Life is so precious and happy memories so important.

    Reply
  7. Ellen Dolgen

    My mother passed away last July. I totally understand how you feel. But, you are correct our Mom’s are alive in our hearts forever. We shall always be our Mother’s daughter.

    Reply
  8. Cathy

    A few Kleenexes later….Yes, you will always be a daughter. With your strong bond and love for each other you are never truly separated in your spirits. I am sorry your parents left this world, and I am hugging you right now. Do you feel it? What a beautiful tribute to a beautiful lady. Mothers and daughters. Nothing like it. xo

    Reply
  9. Gayle

    You are a blessed Lady, Lisha, and you write beautifully. On top of having an idylic childhood, you have a special man, and from what I’ve read here and there, children who are happy, healthy, compassionate, and productive human beings. I know you recognize you gifts in this life as your writing reflects it. Go forth and be happy, as your mother desired. May you continue to be blessed and enjoy those blessings.

    Reply

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