Mother’s Day weekend, for me, was quiet and uneventful. Von, my sweet fiance, took me out to breakfast where the servers passed out long-stemmed carnations to the mothers. Next, we went to church, where the congregation clapped for the mothers and grandmothers in the audience. I heard from my two sons — Tam in Sweden, via Skype, and Terry in Virginia, from his cell phone. Before the week was over, I received a card from Terry and even an email from Malin, one of my daughters-in-law.
Still, I’ll have to admit that Mother’s Day, as with Christmas or any other major family-oriented time, carries with it a lot of commercial hype and a few unrealistic expectations. Let’s face it — life is just too full of variables for us to expect our mothers to stick around long enough for one more Mother’s Day. Or to guilt our children into staying within fifty miles of us so they can gather around us, as commanded by the greeting-card companies.
Yes, writers of Hallmark Cards appear to take for granted that everyone has a mother still among the living. They seem to assume that all women on that day are automatically surrounded by loving children and grandchildren. To Hallmark, to Kodak, to Lifetime Movie Network — Mother’s Day is one, big, touchy-feely family portrait.
But what about us whose mothers have passed away? And what about our children and grandchildren living too far t0 pop in for Sunday dinner at Mom’s?
Short of adopting someone else’s mom who may not understand why you, a grown woman, still feel like an orphan, how can you get through the next Mother’s Day if your mom has met her Maker or your children or grandchildren are abroad or unavailable?
Let me share a tip from my Mother’s Day Survival Kit. It’s something I started after my own mother passed away. I bring her back, but not via seance. I have only to write to her to feel her presence.
Shortly after Mama died, seven years ago, I attended Grief Recovery, where we were issued binders for writing our way through our grief journeys. Shortly thereafter, I started an online journal written as a continuing letter to her. Each entry opened with the words, “Oh, Mama….”
In this journal, my tribute to her, I uploaded pictures of my new grandchildren — her great-grandchildren — Harald, Sadie, Thomas, and Sofia, and newly-adopted grand-dog, Boaz. I shared accidentally-funny snippets from my students’ essays, remembering how she used to throw back her head and laugh. I kept her current on Victor Newman’s shenanigans in our favorite “soap”, The Young and The Restless. Best of all, I inserted poetry I had written with her looking over my shoulder — in spirit — and encouraging me. I remembered well the advice she would have given: “That’s beautiful, honey. Now, you might want to change this word….”
When both Mama and Daddy were alive, I always made it a point to swing by their home in Ft. Worth and shoot the breeze with them awhile. Now, they reside in a new place: my heart. I still visit them at their grave sites, flowers in hand, and chat with them as though I were still facing them in their living room. I leave each a flower for every member of the family — even the extended ones, such as Von, and both dogs, Boaz, whose ashes are scattered, as a blanket, over them — and baby-girl, Russet, their new grand-dog.
So, that’s how I get through mother-less Mothers’ Days. Soon to come, my sixteenth father-less Fathers’ Day. I’ve shared my suggestions for surviving them. What are yours?