A couple of years before my mother died in 1995 (a few months short of her 81st birthday) she had an epiphany and called my oldest sister, Mary:
“Did you watch Oprah Winfrey today?”
“I missed it,” Mary replied.
“Mary,” my mother confided, “I think my family might have been dysfunctional.”
Mary has never said as much, but I imagine she bit down on her lower lip hard enough to draw blood. “Oh,” Mary said. Mary does noncommittal and non-confrontational better than anyone I’ve ever known.
As soon as Mary hung up with my mother, she called me and our two younger sisters to alert us to our mother’s a-ha moment. “Just take it in,” Mary advised.
All four of us had long since come to this conclusion about Mother’s family and thought it close to miraculous that she escaped with as few scars as she did.
Had my mother had this revelation some 40 years earlier, my life might have been quite different; but she didn’t.