I am writing this letter to my dead mother in English. I find English easier to write. We used to speak Czech most of the time, but she always used to ask me to switch to English so that she could learn. Even at 89, she was a very determined pupil. My mother liked to learn. I lacked the patience for those English conversations, her English was not good enough, and she was a bit hard of hearing, and that is always more prominent in a foreign language. Guessing is harder. But occasionally, I spoke to her in English to please her.
But now she is dead, she is never going to read this letter, I do not believe in afterlife. So I will write it in the language that is easier for me.
The relationship with my mother was always complicated, ambiguous. They say you grieve more in those circumstances. Do I grieve more?
Maybe, I grieve for a relationship we never had. I regret certain things.
Friends and relatives tell me that I treated my mother much better than she treated me. They are probably right. Doesn’t help.
There is one regret that keeps coming back to me.
I never thanked my mother for making me go to medical school.
I blogged about the story before.
You really need to read that blog to understand why I am writing this letter.
Letter to my mother who made me study medicine, and enabled me to become a family doctor, the best job I can imagine. I loved my work. And yet, I never thanked her. I did not want to give her the satisfaction.
And now she is dead. And really, I am writing the letter for myself.
This is a thank you letter that is coming too late. When you forced me to go to medical school, I resented that. The only reason I did not drop out of medical school were my new friends, and being a member of the University skiing team. I was not interested in the course, and only did well because of my good memory. Memory that I inherited from you. I suppose I should thank you for that, too.
After graduation, in hospital jobs, nothing changed, I worked for the money, and because I needed a job, but I found it boring.
But then, I became a GP, and everything changed. I loved my work, the puzzles, mysteries, every patient was a problem to solve. I loved the variety, the personal relationships with my patients and their families. It was fun. All those stories. I am a curious woman, and people told me things. It was the best job I could imagine.
When we emigrated, it was hard, but it was much easier for me to find a job because doctors are needed everywhere. You often talked about it, how it was good that I was a doctor, I have a safe job, enough money, and you irritatingly never forgot to mention how you cleverly manipulated me into going to medical school with a promise that I might do something like history of medicine, and not work as a doctor at all.
You told that story so many times…I heard it, and either changed the subject or said that I can imagine better jobs than being a doctor.
I was lying, but I did not want to give you the satisfaction.
So the years went by, and I never told you that I loved my job, and that you were right. I never told you “Going to medical school was a good idea Thanks for making me go.”
Did you know that was what I was thinking? Not sure. You repeatedly asked for my recognition of the benefits of being a doctor, I repeatedly denied it.
We were in a loop. And now the loop is broken. You died.
So at least I am going to say it now. Mother, I have been grateful for years for you forcing me to become a doctor. I loved my job, and would not have been happy if you let me do what I wanted.
I never thanked you, because I was not magnanimous enough to admit you were right.
Thank you, mother, for making my life misery for two months by constant manipulation, scenes and threats until I relented and not only applied for medical school, but also prepared for the entrance exams. Those two months were painful, probably for you, too.
Thank you for not paying any attention to what I wanted to do instead. It was a manifestation of what I did not like about you, but this time, though I hate to admit it, you were right.
Of course, you would have been right even if I didn’t admit it.
My love of the job, and all those grateful patients are a proof that forcing me was a good thing to do.
I wish I told you when you were still alive. But I didn’t.” Better late than never”, they say.
And while I am writing this letter, another thing. I loved you, mother, and I know you loved me.
I am grieving for you although I was convinced I will be relieved when you die.
Well, maybe I am a bit relieved, too. Relieved that you did not have to suffer a slow undignified deterioration and death. That you, quite literally went with a bang.
Sudden death exactly before you were forced to move from your apartment, the move you detested so much. You did not want to do it, and you did not have to.
No, I KNOW you did not kill yourself, the fall on the stairs that caused your head injury and death was accidental.
But deep in my mind, I feel you died when you wanted to. Don’t we all wish that to happen to us?
Rest in Peace, they say.
Apart from the fact that I REALLY don’t believe in afterlife.