Arrested Development

The loss of a mother creates a significant
developmental challenge for a child.

My maternal grandmother was 11 years old when her mother died and the oldest of 5 children.  I suspect that Lizzie Lou was forced to take on responsibilities not only for herself but for the whole family very quickly.

It is known that in such cases the daughter advances some areas of development quite quickly.

At the same time, it is also known that she may identify with her earlier stage of maturity, the age when her mother was still the guiding light of the family’s life,
as a way of maintaining a relationship with her mother in an effort to deny
the finality of the death.

The result can be an adult who is stuck at an earlier developmental stage.  I don’t know if this happened to my grandmother but my grandfather, I am told, described her as very young – indeed she was 20 years younger.  She was, however, already 20 years old when they married and 21 years old when my mother was born.  Hardly a child, though I understand that maturity is more of an issue than a young person of that age may believe.

Ever since I heard this assessment, that this is what my grandfather said about my grandmother, that she was very young, I have wondered, exactly what did he mean by that ?  I have to consider that maybe she was a “little girl” in emotionally significant ways.  Did she expect too much of him ?  Did she throw temper tantrums ?

I’ll never know why he left her 4 months pregnant after only 4 months of marriage.  I am left simply to consider the possible reasons and I come down on the side of believing there is a “positive” perspective I could apply.

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