As a young mother I remember that horrific moment when I heard my mothers voice coming out of my mouth. I had vowed that I was going to be nothing like her. I was so sure that I was such a different person that the only possible link between us, was by birth. Not only was I different, I was going to be a better mother in every way, but then it happened I heard not just her voice, but her words.
I expect that everyone of us, at some point in our lives has caught ourselves turning into one of our parents. I would go as far as saying that it is probably a natural process, one that we have no control over, after all we are the product of everything that they are. A fact that that morning, when I was telling my daughter off for something, I had to accept I heard her voice. I also had to accept years later, when I started to see her looking back at me from the mirror. She was there when I had no make-up on, I had spent enough years of my life looking at her, that I knew those lines, that expression, I could with ease morph our faces.
With each year I saw her more and more and the layers of make-up went on thicker and thicker. She was still there, so the make-up became strong and individual, instead of thick, then the mirror showed me my face. Each evening when the mask came off, she came back. As the MS started to take it’s toll on my body I saw me slowly moving within her aged stance, long before I should have been there. The nearly 40 year gap was closing fast.
As I became less able to take any form of exercise even walking, my body shape changed and took on fast, the form of a middle age women, her form. My body had always been mine, I danced daily and could outrun, out lift and out move most people of my age and much younger. At first when I had to give in and use my wheelchair I still managed to stay quite fit. I went nowhere slowly, my upper body strength remained and maybe even increased, but then it crashed and burned. My chair was gone and so was my figure. Lumps replaced curves and flab covered, then consumed muscle. She had got there too.
Now all to often I find myself suddenly aware without the aid of a mirror, to know that I have pursed my lips the way she does, or that my mouth has those turned down corners, that are all to familiar. Sitting slightly slumped in front of the TV with my arms crossed, I feel my chin dropping closer to my chest, forming signs of a companion chin, she is there again. In silent times I feel those slightly sad, empty eyes looking out from my face, not just at it. They see the results of their creation and look sadder still.
So what is left of me, probably exactly what was there the day I was born. A baby is a parasite and consumes everything that it needs for life from it mother, but how much more do we consume? Where is that line of individuality drawn or is it ever really there? It’s easy to raise the nature or nurture argument but impossible to raise the answer. When I consumed for life, I also absorbed that life, taking it with me no matter how hard I strove to separate it from me. Like it or not I know my mothers voice, as I heard it when I was inside her, I now I here it inside me.
Well Mum, you win, I surrender, I am your daughter. No distance, time or experiences have managed to separate us and although you are still alive, you already haunt me. Well done.