Mother-daughter relationships are complicated.

They shouldn’t be. The daughter will never be a clone-mini of the mom (thankfully), but there ought to be a modicum of respectful obedience.

Not with Mom and me.

I was never obedient unless it was by accident. Mom called me a maverick. I had horrible grades in elementary school. I day-dreamed all through classes. Looking back I realize what a waste that was. I could have learned so much from my mother. She was charming, attractive, gracious, intelligent, funny… no matter what, I did my very best to not be whatever anyone expected of me.

Mom tried everything. She encouraged me to play golf, her one true love. Too frustrating. She took me to her hair stylist for a perm. She agreed later how awful it was. She would take me shopping and I’d hate every outfit or piece of clothing she chose for me.

Not until my father’s business transferred him to New York did she and I become close. More like sister close than mother-daughter close. And then she got cancer. They operated and she came home. I’d had to learn how to use a mop and do laundry and cook in her absence, grudgingly as usual, but I did it.

She did recover. I went to college, convinced I had to find a fiance which I did. Before him though there was a terrible boyfriend I did not exactly know how to deal with. He wrote me letters telling me how unfair it would be if I stopped seeing him, no concern as to whether or not it was a good match. He thought my family had money so he hung on. Mom had the solution. The last letter I received I wrote “addressee moved, Tombstone, Arizona”.

The fiance who became a husband did not work out. So when that union ended Mom knew I cared little for things but she decided some of those wedding presents were worth hanging on to, so she thought. She drove me back to Tennessee to collect them the week my hearing pending trial was scheduled. China, my bedroom furniture, a few small pieces of incidental furniture, crystal, silver, stainless flatware… she had a mover pack up the lot and shipped it home. She knew at that point the fight had pretty much left me so she went to bat for me.

She was never one to take very good care of herself. Golf was her exercise but she had other things that finally caught up to her. She and I had had something of a falling out before Christmas 1988. It was the only Christmas I can remember not being with my family, intentionally. I had no idea she would leave this earth for her hereafter not 2 months later.

She phoned me the Sunday before the Tuesday that she died. She had talked her doctor into releasing her from hospital after she’d had 2 heart attacks in the span of 10 days. We spoke of some bulbs I’d planted at their beach house that had come up. Did I think they were the freesia or the narcissus? she asked. I didn’t know, I’d replied. Would I plan a visit there sometime after she was a bit stronger? I didn’t need entertaining, did I? Of course I would I’d said and no, I did not need any entertaining. We said “I love you”, and hung up.

Dad called to tell me she’d died and all he said was “Your mother didn’t make it.” I guess I knew what he meant but I didn’t. So I called her best friend and repeated what he’d said. She was as confused as I, but I by then knew.

Sometimes when I am up against a hard decision or in a corner I need to get out of I really wish she were here. She could finesse or deal with anything. And sometimes an answer comes to me, just as if she had told me herself.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I love you.