Husband and I have a friend in town who we have been helping with her garden. I will call her Kay. She is in her early 60’s, has never married, and lives with her 90 year old mother. Kay is a college graduate. She has held teaching jobs in small communities in our region, but mainly lived at home.
Kay has lived under her mother’s power and control her whole life. Her mother is failing now, and in poor health, and yet still tries to boss Kay. They have an enormous vegetable garden and many flower beds impractically designed by her mother, that Kay is expected to keep the way her mother wants. All the gardening must be done the way her mother expects, and she better not spend too much money on anything, or water more than every two weeks. Her mother never taught her to garden, however. (I should also add that she and her mother are devout Baptists and leading lights in the area WCTU. )
Kay has stopped asking her mother how to keep up the flower beds, and takes our advice regarding soil preparation, plant varieties, soaker hoses, and equipment. She bought twelve bags of peat moss without her mother’s permission and had Little Nick come with his tiller to work it into the vegetable garden. (Little Nick is 3 ft tall, about 60 years old, and as mean as a snake. He has gardening equipment especially adapted for his height.) She put down soaker hoses, and waters when the plants need it. She even bought a wheel barrow.
I see gardening as a way for Kay to have a quiet revolution and become liberated from her mother. I know at a certain level that she has allowed her mother to treat her this way, but it is hard to get yourself out of situations like this that have gone on for so long. We are making sure she doesn’t become too dependent on us. We also put her in touch with the Regional Aging Services coordinator to discuss Power of Attorney and care taker support. I don’t think I will ever be able to take her out for a drink, but those twelve bags of peat moss are a real positive sign.
Who have you known who was overcontolled by someone else? What other rebellious advice would you have for our friend?