“What I Did Not Do on Mother’s Day,” column for May 10, 2016

I forget things. Appointments. Birthdays. Names of people I’ve just met. Names of people I’ve known forever. Where I left my keys. Or my car. Or the glasses I can’t find because they’re on top of my head.

But this was a first. On Mother’s Day, I forgot my mother. Or rather, I forgot to do what I meant to do to honor her memory. Top that. I dare you.

From the time I was big enough to steal flowers from the neighbor’s yard and make a card out of newsprint, there’s never been a Mother’s Day I haven’t been mindful of the woman who brought me into this world and often threatened to take me out.

I wish I could say we were close. I assure you I loved her and she loved me. But mothers and daughters are yoked by a bond that allows them to love each other fiercely, even if they never feel close at all.

Being close is a gift, not a given. We each in our own ways tried to be what the other needed. Sometimes it was enough. But always, I was her daughter and she was my mother. We were what we had.

I lost her 20 years ago to lung cancer. At the time, my husband was also battling cancer. I left him with our three children and an army of friends and flew “home” to spend time with her in the hospital before she died. It was a gift more for me than for her.

Even as she lay dying, her main concern, as always, was for her children, especially for my brother, who is blind. “Call Joe once in a while,” she said. “Do it for me.”

Those were her last words to me. I stayed to bury her, then flew home. I didn’t fully realize I had lost her until two years later, when my husband died. Then I grieved for them both, and by the grace of God, began to move forward with my life.

I don’t need Mother’s Day to remind me of my mother. She lives large in my memory, more vivid with each passing year. The sound of her voice. The light in her eyes. The taste of the cobbler she’d bake just for me. The hands that are mine, but are starting to look like hers.

To remember someone is a thought. To honor their memory is an action. I think of my mother often. But I honor her memory by calling my brother. Sure, I’d call him anyhow. Even though he can be a toad. But it’s the one thing my mother asked me to do, so when I call him for any reason, I do it mostly to honor her request.

When I leave this world, I hope to be remembered by the people I love. There are lots of ways my children might choose to honor my memory: Write a book. Read to a child. Steal flowers from a neighbor’s yard. Go to a basketball game. Forget where they parked the car.

Any way they remember me will be an honor. But I really hope they’ll call each another. They laugh when I say that now. They can’t imagine being out of touch. But it happens in lots of families. I’ve seen it. So have you. Things get in the way: Time, words, disappointments, the slightest of slights. One day you’re close, then you’re not. It can happen fast, if you let it.

What did you do for Mother’s Day? Did you remember your mom? If you’re a mom, did your kids remember you? If you’re a dad, did you remember the mother of your children, the woman who gave birth so you didn’t have to? I hope so.

I had a great day. Slept in, stayed home, heard from all my kids. My husband bought me tulips (they don’t grow in our neighbors’ yards.) We watched NBA playoffs on TV. I loved it.

But I did not do what I meant to do to honor my mother’s memory. Yes, you are right. I forgot to call my brother. Instead, he called me.

“Happy Mother’s Day, Sister!” he chirped into the phone. “Just wanted to call and let you know I was thinking about you!”

Seriously?

I think our mother put him up to it.

Comments

  1. Shashi Saini says:

    late is better than never but you did not forget to write a column ,I was not sure you forgot but you reminded us .Thank you as always it is still a good post . Love you Sharon ,I want to be mom like you .

  2. Jody S. says:

    I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t even send my mother a card. I called her, as I do everyday, but I didn’t do anything special. These special days creep up on me and surprise me, and then they’re over. Do they even sell “Happy Belated Mother’s Day” cards for schmucks like me?

    I spent Mother’s Day home being a mother, nursing a vomiting daughter. And making cookies with my other kids–our Mother’s Day tradition.

    I also gave myself permission to finally open your book that my husband bought (at my insistence) for me. I am enjoying it immensely.

  3. Sheila Torres says:

    As always. That was beautifully written from your heart. I was only seven when my Mother died but I remember small things about her. I hope my boys will always remember me when I’m gone. I’m 70 now; what I consider the “winter” of my life and I remain very close to my sons. As always, sending blessings your way ❤️

  4. Janice says:

    Thank you for this! My sons (33 each) joined me at church-my request for a “gift” then to the cemetery to place flowers at my mother’s and grandparents graves then to a delicious lunch. Huge blessing!

  5. Tim Williams says:

    Amen to this sweet story, Sharon. I too miss my mom more each day, and not a day passes that I do not give her a lot of thought to her words from my past. I now live in the home that was my parents retirement home so there is more reasons for her to come to mind. Plus, when the siblings, nieces and nephews took all the stuff from the home mom gave them they left a really nice photo of her when she was about 40. She was a beauty; you should see her great photo! This photo is still hanging where she placed it; looking down on me now above my computer screen. Hello, MOM; you will always live in the mind of us kids, grand kids and great grand kids that knew you. We will love you forever !!! ( choking up – got to go)

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