I spent yesterday afternoon with Jeanne.
Jeanne is a French woman whose family I lived with during my first 4 months in Lyon. She lives with her husband and has two children who visit her often. I like Jeanne a lot. Even though sometimes she says thing to me that make me want to give her a very strong side eye. Well, she is French and I am American, there are bound to be some differences.
In any case, when I spent time with her it makes me think that maybe it’s the closest to what I imagine a healthy relationship would be with a mother. Once she was giving me some sage advice and began by saying ‘Well, I am not your mother but…’
Those words rang out in my head for the rest of the afternoon.
It’s funny, sometimes I am sure that the universe sends us exactly what we need.
My mother is not dead, but it has been over two decades since I have felt any sort of warm feelings from her. And I suppose she could say the same of me. But that’s another story for another time.
The point is, my relationship with Jeanne isn’t the first of its kind. I often meet women my mother’s age who take a liking to me and are extremely kind to me. Sometimes I wonder if they can see …
Many times though when I encounter people like this It makes me feel sad and guilty and I try to push them way or simply run away from them. Sad because I remember all the years when I was quite young and then oldermwhen my own mother was quite wicked to me. I asked myself ‘Why?’ But I never got a response.
As a child I thought that when I grew up I could finally be alone and that would solve all my problems as there would be nobody around to mistreat me. Well, you know how life is so strange, the thing that we try to run away from can appear in different forms and trick us. And sometime it takes an eternity to realize we’ve been had.
A few years ago I was in Costa Rica. I stayed at an airbnb with a woman who was around the age of my mother. She was so kind and I could tell she liked me a lot. She had a daughter the same age as me, married and living in a city several hours away. I thought maybe she missed her daughter a lot and I reminded her of this.
I stayed with her for a week.
The housing included breakfast but sometimes she invited me to dinner. It was her and her second husband.
One morning, she asked me if I liked cakes. I said ‘Yes!’
She asked me what kind, I said ‘fruit cake, ro carrot cake or even plain cakes..’
That night when I returned she told me ‘I made a cake for you.’
It was a fruit cake. It was delicious.
Nobody had ever made me a cake before. Not even for my birthday. Maybe it was too many of us. Anyway, we ate the cake that night and again the next morning.
The evening when I left (I travelled by night) she asked me to send her a WhatsApp message to let her know I arrived to my destination safely. When I did so she replied ‘I am so happy to hear that. Last night I lit a candle for you so that you would have a safe trip. It’s the first time I did this for someone who was not my child.’
I was so moved that I didn’t feel anything at all. Probably for a few days. And then an endless sadness.
I dont know why it made me so sad. I know it was a good thing. An act of kindness. But when women like that are kind with me, and this happens very often, I think of my own mother and I feel bad.
All of this to say that after being friends with Jeanne for almost a year now I think perhaps I’ve finally evolved a bit. These days when I spent time with her, and she is kind to me, I feel more happy than sad. I think that maybe finally I’ve learned to be happy in the present and not let it be ruined by the past.