Jennifer Aniston mourns death of ‘sweet papa’ — but mom was source of trauma
Jennifer Aniston is mourning the death of her “sweet papa,” soap legend John Aniston, who passed away Friday at the age of 89.
The “Friends” star — who was famously fond of her father — took to Instagram to pay touching tribute to the man she affectionately described as “one of the most beautiful humans I ever knew”.
But while she was incredibly close to her dad, Aniston had a far more fractious relationship with her mother, Nancy Dow, which was plagued by betrayal, mistrust and hurt.
Aniston and Dow were estranged for years, with “The Morning Show” actress delivering a less flattering tribute following her mom’s death in 2016.
“It is with great sadness that my brother John and I announce the passing of our mother Nancy Dow. She was 79 years old and passed peacefully surrounded by family and friends after enduring a long illness” Aniston said in a seemingly terse statement at the time. “We ask that our family’s privacy be respected as we grieve our loss.”
For decades, Aniston and Dow’s relationship had been rocky, with the actress reportedly left livid by her mom’s decision to release a tell-all tome about their relationship titled: “From Mother and Daughter to Friends: A Memoir.”
Aniston eventually reconciled with her mother, but she has frequently spoken out about their complicated relationship and the trauma that she carries from their fall-out.
“She was critical. She was very critical of me,” the actress said of her mom in a 2015 interview with The Hollywood Reporter. “Because she was a model, she was gorgeous, stunning. I wasn’t. I never was.”
“She was also very unforgiving,” Aniston continued. “She would hold grudges that I just found so petty.”
Dow — a model and actress who appeared in “The Beverly Hillbillies” — married John Aniston in 1965, before they welcomed Jennifer, their only child together, four years later.
The couple divorced when Aniston was 9, with the relationship between her and her mom growing more complicated during her teenage years.
However, according to a 2000 article in The National Post, things seriously soured in the early 1990s after the pair attended a therapy session together, in which Dow believed she was being “blamed” for all of her daughter’s problems.
As Aniston’s career took off following the 1994 debut of “Friends,” she was barely speaking to her mom, who then decided to publish the 1999 tell-all book about their relationship.
According to Dow, the book was an attempt to “be helpful to those trying to overcome their own childhood trauma, fallout from divorce, single-parenting issues, and the ‘dark hole of child/parent estrangement” — but Aniston was said to be enraged by its publication.
Dow was completely iced-out of Aniston’s life and left off the guest list from her star-studded 2000 wedding to Brad Pitt.
Aniston and Dow did not speak for six more years, until the actress’s split from Pitt prompted her to re-evaluate the relationship.
“We’ve exchanged messages,” the actress revealed in a 2006 Vanity Fair article after her highly-publicized divorce. “Our doors are open. We’re taking baby steps. It’s a good thing.”
“I feel pretty good about the choices I’ve made,” she continued. “The choice of not speaking to mom for a while — that’s ours. Nobody else has to understand it… I wouldn’t change my childhood, I wouldn’t change my heartaches, I wouldn’t change my successes.”
While the pair managed to mend their relationship, it’s believed they never became as close as Aniston was to her father.
In 2011, Dow suffered a series of strokes that left her unable to walk or talk. She eventually passed away in Los Angeles in May 2016.
Aniston has continued to talk about her mother in the years following her passing, saying she has come to see her in a new light.
In a 2018 interview with Elle she candidly admitted that her mom had left her with “deep wounds” — but conceded that they were unintentional.
“She was from this world of, ‘Honey, take better care of yourself,’ or ‘Honey, put your face on,’ or all of those odd sound bites that I can remember from my childhood,” the “Picture Perfect” starlet said.
“[But now I realize] my mom said those things because she really loved me. It wasn’t her trying to be a b–ch or knowing she would be making some deep wounds that I would then spend a lot of money to undo. She did it because that was what she grew up with.”
And just last week, Aniston again mentioned her mom in a new sit-down with Allure, saying she has “forgiven” her any past mistakes.
In the interview, Aniston also appeared to indicate that her beloved father may have also had his faults, with she had also come to terms with.
“I forgave my mom. I forgave my father. I’ve forgiven my family,” she declared. “It’s important. It’s toxic to have that resentment, that anger. I learned that by watching my mom never let go of it. I remember saying, ‘Thank you for showing me what never to be.’”
The Post reached out to “The Morning Show” star’s reps for further comment about her father’s death and was told her heartfelt Instagram post will be her only statement.
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