Reconnecting with estranged mother

I am 58 years young and have always had a difficult relationship with my mother. She had me when she was 17, married to my father at 16. I know her childhood was tragic, her mother died when she was 4 and was raised by her 17 yr old half-sister and her 19 yr old husband.

I have struggled my entire life to be accepted by her. My father was a serial player and she shut everyone out by a sharp tongue and eating. She attempted suicide when I was 7, but no one ever spoke of the incident. I just remember her in the bed and the ambulances.

But to cut to today, I had not spoken in over 22 years. I decided to call her and I was not an easy conversation as I was not willing to go toe to toe with her about the past. She sent me a note about the anguish of my call–it was not exactly a loving reception. But on my birthday a month later, she sent me a lovely card and a generous gift certificate. I immediately called her to thank her and it was a nice conversation. Later, I sent pictures of my children and grandchildren. Again, I called her and she was polite and said my daughter made a beautiful bride.

Emails have been exchanged thru forward jokes, etc but without any personal commentary. I sent her a couple of gifts thru the internet (indoor flowering bulbs, etc.) I have not heard from her since. I finally sent an email to ask if she received the gifts but to this day –no response.

I feel like if I don’t pick up the phone I may never hear from her again. I realize now that is probably how it is always been but I never had history to compare it to. Needless to say, there is much more to tell than in this brief note to you/ your staff but as sad as I am–I don’t know where to go from here….

I have to acknowledge that she is possibly unable to reach out to me for her own fears but I guess I had hope I was worth that stretch. How do I define this relationship that has been eclipsed by so many years of estrangement….I hoped that by contacting her neither one of us would die before knowing we surely must love one another.