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BEACON Senior News - Western Colorado

Ask the old bag, September 2016

Sep 12, 2016 09:58AM ● By Gayle Lagman-Creswick

Dear Old Bag: I read with interest the letter from “Hurting Mom” and your response in last month’s column. Having had a mother who lived to be 95 and having dealt with the parent saying, “Don’t treat me like a child,” I couldn’t let your response go by without adding a different perspective. Like the 73-year-old lady, my mother was a career woman and extremely independent her whole life. She only became dependent the last six months of her life. Throughout my entire child- hood and adulthood, she was a selfish, self-centered individual who believed she should be the center of everyone’s universe, especially my father’s and mine. She would sink to any depth to win an argument, and if something happened that she disapproved of, you knew without fail that she would get back at you sooner or later. Admittedly, her favorite weapon was words, but she used them deftly. I was so relieved when my husband witnessed some of her behavior and announced that she was a nasty individual, and he couldn’t believe how she treated me. This was from a man who doesn’t indulge in that sort of rhetoric. When I was 65 she insulted me so deeply and personally to make a point that I was ready to walk away and never speak to her again.

She quickly realized that she had not only crossed the line—she had obliterated it. She called in tears begging to be forgiven and my husband spoke to her because I could not. Suddenly her words were costing her something. I did return and I tried to take care of her until her death, but with little enthusiasm and without any love; it was a duty. Please do not assume that all parents deserve love. Please do not assume that senior parents can treat children any way they please and be spared a backlash from the adult child. Please do not assume that seniors are entitled to petulant, self-serving behaviors because they are either a senior or a parent. The woman writing the letter seemed to imply she had all her faculties, so something is at play. Please do not assume that because adult children are grown, they should still put up with a parent’s unacceptable behavior and when they react it is by definition abuse. My mother criticized me her whole life. I was an straight-A student. I graduated from high school with honors; as a senior I was voted “most dependable” in a class of 500. I graduated from college with a math degree and had an outstanding career. I never gave my parents a lick of trouble. But that didn’t matter. Given all of that, her last words before she died criticized me. That is my lasting impression of my mother. Using your conclusion, “When they begin yelling or scolding me, I would simply say, ‘I feel so hurt by your words. What is it that has you so upset at me?’ She better be ready to hear the answer. Maybe the senior writing in needs to dig a bit into her own behaviors.

Regards, JB

Dear JB: Thank you for helping me to see the other side. I knew about these kinds of mothers and fathers, and I should have shown the other side. To you parents out there who are being mistreated by an adult child, look in the mirror. Your kids may not be there for you like the writer above. They may disown you, and you may be left with no one to care for or about you. Relationships are difficult at best and require lots of loving care on both sides. Thanks again. OB

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