rembrandt-van-rijn_2My 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.

12kissesbouquetThere 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.”

Jim Warren

Jim Warren

Jim Warren, a Marietta, GA resident, is a self-taught writer of essays and observational humor. He is currently working towards completion of his second book: Barefoot on Hot Asphalt. His first book of essays: Cowlicked! Rants, Remembrances, and Ruminations is available through, or by contacting the author.

  1. Terri Evans

    A wise and beautifully written piece. I was fortunate to have my own mother well into my adulthood, but, like all of us, know others who did not, so I was especially moved by your concept that your mother was “there for you as long as she could be.” I hope this brings comfort to others, and am glad it does for you. Thank you for sharing, Jim.

  2. I will turn 71 in early June. I was five when my mom died and left me with a mentally ill dad who did the best he could in raising me as a single parent. But as with Jim’s moving piece, I too had many moms who gave their love, nurture, and support that continues to guide me to this day.
    Thanks, Jim for your tribute to your mom which means so much to so many.

  3. Wow. I will try to type through my cloudy, tearful eyes. This is such a beautifully written piece, with sentiments that many of us rarely stop to think about. To learn from our elders is a great builder of wisdom and of a center to our lives. We are but merely a result of all human interaction with a touch of choice. Now I have learned from all of your mothers too. Thanx for sharing this with me. My husband actually always tells me to call my mom on my birthday (which was last week :), to thank her for all she had to go through to bring me into this world. Mother’s Day is not enough of a thank you, but it it truly wonderful to love your momma, no matter how close, how perfect, how imperfect your relationship has ever been.

  4. I’m in tears…you are the only one that can understand….
    Rudine….my p___ is hotter than that coffee!! The laughter on that one is still in my heart!!!

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