I loved my mother, although I didn’t know it.

It is Mother’s Day in the USA. Not here, but my family never celebrated it anyway.

However, all those entries on FB made me think about my mum.

A Holocaust survivor, she was 18 when the war finished, and found out that her father and brother, as well as many other relatives have been killed.

She managed remarkably to jump 5 grades to graduate with her class at school, school she had to leave age 11 because she was Jewish. She met my father and married.

From now on, life was going to be perfect.

Not quite. The communists came to power, and my parent’s marriage was not happy. Being with my mother was not easy, she tended to say intentionally hurtful things, she was manipulative, and enjoyed making scenes.

I was her only child, and no doubt she loved me. But  she was looking for a small version of herself in me and was continually frustrated that I seemed to  be the exact opposite. I was  equally frustrated that my mother wanted me to be so many things that I was  not. We were both disappointed in each other. We had many arguments.

My parents’ marriage didn’t last. After their divorce, she studied medicine and became a dermatologist, quite an achievement.

Our relationship was stormy, although it got better with time. Sometimes we don’t notice love. She was often hurtful, but she was always trying to protect me from being hurt by other people. I remember how she worried about me and wanted to help me. I remember how she used to embarrass me by telling other people how brilliant, beautiful and accomplished I was. She often told me the exact opposite in private. I somehow didn’t notice the love, because of her poisonous words, but even those words were often meant to protect me.

I found signs of her love by clearing her flat in Prague after she died. She kept all my letters from when I was a child!

I also found this photo of my parents on their wedding day. 1947, before the communists came to power. Two years after he war.

She looks beautiful and happy.

I started to write my novel after she died.  It is fiction, but it deals with a difficult mother-daughter relationship. Writing the book made me come to terms with my feelings. And now, I only feel love for that competent, brave, damaged yet wonderful person who was my mother, Hana. She is dead so I can’t tell her I love her. But I do.

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