Mother’s Day for me is a generally happy holiday. I have two beautiful young adult children who I love and who love me. I have a doting husband who goes out of his way to make me feel appreciated every day, but especially this day. And this year was no different. My daughter and I spent a really nice day together on Saturday, exploring a little town just down the way from where we live, eating the best southern style food we’ve enjoyed since moving to the south (and that’s saying something) and walking around the quaint little town of Belmont where there is an old-fashioned candy store and several boutiques that held our interest while there. All the while my husband stayed home cleaning and cooking a wonderful dinner for us all to enjoy together later that night. So why then did I feel so melancholy all day long yesterday?
This year is a milestone. My own mother passed away when I was 29. This year marks the 20th anniversary of her passing. And this year I guess I just felt cheated. Now, I’m not ridiculous. My mother was an older mom when I came along. The likelihood that she would still be alive today is slim. She would have been 88 had she lived. And we don’t have those kind of genes in our family. I guess I just wish I had had more time. More chances to laugh with her. She was really the best person I knew, I just didn’t know it at the time.
Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed my mom. After my dad died and I got married my mom moved down to Phoenix to live closer to us. We eventually wound up buying homes 10 doors down from each other. Frank took a lot of crap from people about how rough it must have been living so close to his mother-in-law, but in truth, my mom wasn’t that kind of mom. She wasn’t intrusive, and frankly, she liked her independence and privacy as much as we did. But having her there, enjoying walks and breakfasts and Sunday dinners with her were some of the highlights of those last two years…
I wasted so many of the years that I had been granted with both my parents, but when you’re young you don’t look at life as finite. My childhood was a mess – some becasue my parents had problems, some because I did. I was hyperactive (to be kind – I was really more of a complete wild-child), I partied, and refused parenting from about 4 years old to 16. Soon after I began to calm down, I met my first love – more years lost as I spent every waking, breathing moment following him around. And then I felt compelled to move to Arizona from my hometown of Chicago when I was 22. Two years later, dad died, three years later mom moved to Phoenix and we enjoyed two great years together, traveling and spending time — time that I value so much today. And then she was gone.
I think we, my husband and I, have done a good job of keeping her memory alive for our kids. We’ve shared so many stories of her over the years — pointed out when the kids have traits that would be from her, but it’s not exactly the same as if she were here with us. She missed so much. And I missed so much not having her here. I raised two kids without the benefit of having my mother to call when they got sick or went off the rails in high school. I didn’t have my mom to celebrate milestones or holidays. How I long for her every Christmas — her favorite holiday — I think I still do it up big, even though my kids are grown as a way of connecting to her.
Today I am thankful for the time I did have and the valuable lessons I learned from her. She taught me how to stand up for myself when I am wronged, and how to stand up for others who don’t have a voice. She taught me to laugh at myself when I’m being silly about any number of things. She helped me to know when I had found the “right” guy and to hang on tight. She taught me that though marriage was indeed hard work — love was worth fighting for. She gave me a love of adventure by longing for her own. She taught me the value of girlfriend time, and how to weed my garden when it was time to move on. She was wise without feeling the need to be boastful. And most of all, she let me be me, for good or bad, and she loved me through it all. And I miss her. I just really miss her this year.