My mother would have been 95 this year, and this month will be my 50th chance to tell her on Mother’s Day just how much she means to me. Even though I have never sent a card or flowers, I have always stated out loud: “Happy Mother’s Day, mom.” I have to think she is happy with that. You see, my mom died when I was only four years old.
Few memories of my Mom exist for me, and a few old faded Polaroid’s are all that I have left to use in my attempts to remember anything about her. But I know she was there for me as long as she could be, and I am forever grateful.
Family friends and neighbors told me what they could about her and my elder sister has shared tidbits and descriptions of Mom’s ways, her talents, and her struggles. Even with the stories and descriptions, my mom seems like a character from a book, rather than a real flesh and blood woman that bore me and cared for me up until her death. Although I try to connect these snippets to some ephemeral and fleeting remembrance, I’m not able to make the connection between emotion and memory. I imagine that is something very second nature for people that have known their mother, like breathing or dreaming. For me, it is a hole in my heart that cannot be repaired, filled, or patched over, and remains as an empty spot that has and always will be there, like an unfinished portrait or a chapter missing from a book.
In retrospect, there has been compensation, and in the most surprising of ways. I realize there have been many women throughout my life who gave me what I would ascribe to the gifts that a mother gives her children. To all these women, I want to use this Mother’s Day message to thank them all. I doubt any of these fine people even know that they have blessed me, as nurturing and guidance seem to be inherent to the gender in general and to these women specifically. They have no idea that their lessons have been great and not lost on me, and time has only served to burnish these gifts to a rich and lustrous patina:
- Betty taught me self-sufficiency, the value of hard work, and that personal integrity is priceless.
- Leslie taught me to know that I can achieve anything I wish, and to not let nay-sayers distract me from my achieving my goals.
- Barbara showed me that a kind smile and a cheerful disposition go a long way towards making not only yourself happy, but others as well.
- Alice taught me to see the many blessings that I have in my life and that by sharing them with others less fortunate can bring inner peace and happiness.
- Susan taught me that no matter how old I grow, there are some joys of childhood that will always stay with me, and they should be cherished.
- Alberta showed me the value of silence. I learned that simply sitting and holding a hand provides comfort and understanding, and that the deepest feelings can be conveyed without uttering a word.
- Rudine taught me that – in business dealing- never let them see you blink.
- Linda taught me that when I try something and it doesn’t work, that does not mean I am a failure. The only failure would be in not trying, in not reaching and in not stretching.
- Debra taught me to be able to laugh at myself.
There are many more. Each has taught me through word, action, or simply by their living example. Growing up with so many wonderful influences has empowered me to evolve very close to the man I wish to become. It would not be so without these wonderful ladies, and to each of them I wish a happy Mother’s Day. In my heart, you all are part of what I hope my mother would have been.
And I think my Mom would be happy about that. Perhaps she even helped them from beyond, and who’s to say otherwise? So even though I know she won’t be reading this, I want to state, for the 50th time:
“Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I love you very much.”