Last Updated on March 18, 2019

My mother and grandmother had a contentious relationship. I say “relationship” very gingerly. As a youth the divorce of her parents put a wedge between them that would last until Nana’s death at age 77. Mother, daddy’s princess, could not and would not forgive Nana for separating her from her daddy. It began a root of bitterness that crowded her life.

As an unwed teenage mother, she found life with me and my brothers difficult. It was a struggle to feed, clothe, and care for her little family. The bitterness and anger she harbored showed itself in her parenting. There was not physical abuse, but as children we felt some neglect. We knew of her sacrifice to gain employment, housing, and daily care. Yet there was a sense of being overwhelmed with our circumstances.

The role of a single parent is a heavy load. I can still envision her weariness. Once home from work there was little energy or patience for our many needs. There were very few remembrances of hugs, kisses or “I love you” from her. As the oldest and only daughter I was responsible, at age 10, to manage the household, my brothers, and myself. I was unhappy and sorrowful for my lot in life. “It was unfair” was my lonely cry. It was a lot.

Later as a wife and mother I struggled with anger. I was too controlling, verbally loud and I demanded much from my small children. I was disrespectful to my patient husband. It took awhile before I embraced the fact that under the surface laid a fuse of anger ignited by the bitterness and anger of my mother. I was becoming a mirror, reflecting her anger and bitterness to my innocent family. I was in need of some real peace and joy in life, or I would face the end of life, as my mother, alone and not reconciled in significant relationships.

I heard about a process of healing achieved by writing a tribute to parents, honoring them for their value in your life, even if your life was not ideal and even if your parents are deceased. Part of the process was to make your tribute heartfelt and finding the positive without rehashing wounds of the past. As a woman who has been molded by God, and now of strong faith, I knew what must be done.

I sat and wrote my aging mother a letter highlighting my unconditional love and respect for her. I acknowledged her sacrifices and care for me. It was hard not to ramble off a list of omissions from my childhood. However, I needed inner peace and joy not a sparring match.

The hole that anger and bitterness occupied needed to close. It was this act of obedience that freed me to forgive and love.

The final years of my dear mother’s life ended well between us. I showered her with hugs, kisses, and an abundance of “I love you’s!”

My true love released a freedom that changed my own parenting and commitment to my husband.

Have you ever written a tribute? If you haven’t, try it soon. It just might change your heart.

{Editor’s Note: Karen Loritts is a very wise Godly woman, may her words here offer hope to many, as family relationships can be hard. This article was first published in March of 2013.}

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  1. Karen,
    Thanks for the words of wisdom. I think I get caught up in past hurts too often. I wonder how much is affecting my family.

    1. You have blessed me sharing your testimony. Thank you. Prayers, always, with Jesus love…and Shalom to ALL.