"Every man is an island."
Yes, she said, "Every man is an island.", in direct contrast to 16th Century poet John Donne who writes in Meditation XVII:
"No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."
I only heard her say this a couple of times in my teenage years and each time in the context of a deep and serious conversation about the nature of human relationships. Do we ever really "know" another person? In retrospect, I suspect she felt her life was much like an island, adrift in a vast sea of loneliness. Did she believe others might feel the same? She was confident in her conclusion as if resolved to this view of reality.
Some days I think she's right. We may be individual parts of a whole, inter-connected, desperately linked one to another. Yet, we constantly fight a personal reality of disconnectedness, alone-ness on this lonely personal journey we call life.
Not everything my Mom taught or told me was cheery and bright. For that, I'm grateful.