(Draft post written long before "Legacy" below - but which somehow slots right in there)

The older I get, the more I understand my mother....

Mom succumbed to cancer at the end of 2005, after a battle of around 8 years.  Unlike many mothers and daughters, she and I did not get along very well.  The clash started in my teen years, and attempts to regain a closeness before she died simply didn't work.  By then it was too late and the gap of understanding each other was just too large.

But now, at age 42, I understand a lot of where she was coming from, why she did certain things, and what a very strong legacy of DNA-based behaviour the women in our family have.

From our falling-out, I disdained (usually not openly) what I saw as signs of weakness - and yet I see exactly those traits rearing their head in me now.  I could never understand why she didn't stand up for herself, and why my grandmother didn't either - both were silent in the face of opposition.  Yet I do the same thing, and now I understand why.  Us Burgoyne women do not fight well, we would rather shut up and walk away than throw a hissy-fit screaming match (well, all of us except one of my aunts, who clearly got my gramp's fighting streak).  That often leads to locking ourselves away - not physically, but simply closing off and putting up a wall.  I saw it in my mom, I see it in me - and I'm fighting it daily.

I didn't like how she'd dumped her dreams.  She had always wanted to be a nurse, my grandfather did not allow it and she became a teacher (the other "respectable" option for women in those days).  She was a good teacher at primary school level, she put her soul into the kids, but it wasn't her first choice.  I understand now how hard it was, but also that "dumping" her dreams had led her on a course that gave her pleasure.  I know what I've "dumped" in the past, and that it has led me right to where I need to be.  I think she would have been proud of what I've become - though some aspects of my life would probably not have met with her initial approval.

I was proud of having dark, luxurious eyelashes and unlined skin.  Her eyelashes were barely visible, her cheeks had started to sag.  I'm there now.

I understand why she hid her upper arms and wore what she wore.  Genetics means our female line is pear-shaped, with upper arms that are not firm, no matter what we do.

I understand why she had a hysterectomy.  The females in our family often experience extreme cramps each month.  She lived in the days before readily-available Myprodal or other strong pain killers, and eventually the only option was to remove the source of the debilitating, knock-you-down pain.  I'm convinced the sudden hormone change had something to do with her developing breast cancer when the stress of a trans-continental move kicked in - and I'm treating my hormones with respect as a result.

I get why she needed to talk to a professional when I fell pregnant at 20.  I get the self-blame she piled on that needed relief, telling herself it was her fault for not raising me better.  I do the whole self-blame thing to perfection myself in many different situations, not only as a parent, but also as a partner and businesswoman.

Would we have gotten along better had she still been alive?  Probably not.  We'd still be bumping heads.  But now I understand a lot of what I do and why I did it.  She did it first, and her mother did before her.  DNA can't be changed.