A Time of Year to Remember

My mom, Edith Perry
My mom, Edith Perry

Mother’s Day is fast approaching, and with that in mind, I recently asked a group of elders about their memories of their moms.  What special qualities did they assign to their mothers?  What one memory stands out?  For what are they most grateful about their mothers?

Group participants were forthcoming.  Responses included: honest, loving, strict, giving.

When asked about special memories, one participant, an elderly woman, remembered how her mother gave her piano lessons when she was just four years old and she still appreciates music to this day.

Another said he remembers his mom’s cooking.

“Any dish in particular?” I asked.

“Everything,” he said.  “There wasn’t one thing that wasn’t really good.”

One woman noted that her mom was strict and she often disagreed with her until she became a mother herself.  “Then I realized she was right.”

A few participants spoke of women who were not their moms but played an important mom-like role in their lives.  “I remember a woman who was a good friend of my mom. She helped put me through school.  I never would have made it without her,” he said.

One group member talked about how much he still missed his mom, who died some years ago.  I told the group that if they have lost their mother, they may feel a little tenderness or nostalgia on Mother’s Day.  I told them how I felt the day after Mother’s Day last year.  I wanted to reassure them that feelings of grief can surface anytime, even after many years.  Just honor your feelings, I told them.

This year I’ll start Mother’s Day with running the 5K Race for the Cure at 7:30 a.m.  Then, feeling energized (I hope), I’d like to spend the day outside, picnicking, enjoying the sunshine.

And once again I’ll be tenderly remembering my mother…and grateful to be one, too!

Read last year’s Mothers’ Day remembrance, The Day after Mothers Day.

I'm mom to this little guy in his Grandpa Perry's backyard tree, about 25 years ago!
I’m mom to this little guy! Picture taken about 25 years ago!

The Day after Mothers’ Day

On Mothers’ Day, my husband, Rick, took great care to shower me with all manner of special things: a dozen red roses, a special breakfast of eggs, strawberries, and yogurt, and an afternoon doing the activity of my choice: gardening.  The day was gorgeous—full

My mother as a young woman

sun, warm temperatures, and low humidity—and we spent the afternoon putting in a rock garden where our soil no longer nourished our previous hosta garden.  The day’s work was hard indeed, but we finished the day with a sense of accomplishment and a “good kind of tired.”  The day was complete with a mothers’ day phone call from our son, Brendon. 

The next morning I awoke with joyful memories of the day before.  As I drove to work, however, a kind of tender melancholy settled over me.  I wasn’t sure where these feelings were coming from, but as I drove, this thought came to mind:  Maybe I’m grieving the loss of my own mother.  After all, yesterday was Mothers Day and I knew that anniversaries and other significant days can bring up old feelings of grief.  Later that afternoon, I pondered this thought again—maybe I’m grieving the loss of my own mother–and my eyes filled with the tears that confirmed my grief. 

Mom developed cancer in her mid-sixties and died over thirty years ago.  During my growing up years, she had always been my “go to” person.  Though she often struggled with her own health, including a broken back and a broken hip on two separate occasions, her support and care for me was unwavering.  Coming home from school, I knew I could count on her being there, greeting me at the door, and asking about my day.  When my day had gone poorly, her arms around me were my solace. 

As I grew older, Mom drove me to weekly flute lessons, attended all my band concerts, and went back to work to help pay for my dream of going to college.  She loved my choice of a life mate, and eight years later, when our son was born, she traveled to help care for the grandson she adored.

Perhaps the greatest lesson my mother taught me was about letting go.  When I graduated from college, she taught me, by example, the importance of allowing grown children to make their own choices, have their own opinions, and choose their own directions. Perhaps it was this lesson that impacted me most when I became a parent myself.  I learned that love means letting go.  

At age sixty-seven, her body weak and ravaged with debilitating

Bob & Edith Perry @ 1970

pain, my mother let go one last time.  Her final words to her sister were, “Take care of Bob.”  Even as she lay weak and vulnerable, her care for my dad was evident.

I enjoyed a relationship with my mother in which I felt comfortable talking to her about most anything.  I don’t remember ever arguing with Mom when I was growing up, though we may have disagreed on some philosophical topics; but I do remember that, as a young teenager, I was not always kind or appreciative, and I am sorry for any hurt I caused her. 

Death took her much too early, and though we had a loving relationship, we didn’t have the chance to share in a deeper intimacy that could have come with my growing older and more mature.  I miss that.

If she were here today, I’d be sure to tell her how glad I am that she was my mother, and on each second Sunday of May, I’d wish her a happy Mothers’ Day—and I’d be sure to make it so!