Missing My Mom On “Mother’s Day”
By Russell Friedman
In mid-April there are two things you can count on in the United States. One is the due date for filing your tax return. The other is the arrival of the annual brochures or emails reminding you to order those special flowers so they will be shipped on time for Mother’s Day. However, the company that sends the notices doesn’t know that my mother died nearly 19 years ago.
Needless to say, Mother’s Day has been different for me ever since.
I remember the first year after my mom died, when the floral reminder came in the mail. I stood in the den sorting through the mail and couldn’t help noticing the vivacious motherly and grandmotherly pictures in the full-color brochure. Within moments I fetched my handkerchief from my back pocket to dab the tears from my eyes.
I thought about sending a note to the flower company asking them to take me off their mailing list. After all, one less piece of junk mail would be good for the environment. Wouldn’t that make my momma proud? Her son had finally become a solid citizen – the fact that I was 51 years old at that point, notwithstanding.
That first reminder encouraged me to call my dad and my sisters and brother to talk about Mom. So I did, and we did. We talked, we remembered momma, we laughed, we cried. For me, the fond memories mingled with fresh tears in a way that made me feel very connected to my mother, even though I could not see her or touch her in a physical sense. I believe something similar happened for my dad and my siblings in our respective conversations. Openly communicating the range of feelings we had about mom felt so normal and natural and healthy.
The next year when Mother’s Day came around, I didn’t need a post card to kick me in the emotional pants to urge me to make contact with my family. Remembering the sweet sadness of the previous year’s Mother’s Day calls, I got on the phone again to my family. It was much the same only a little bit different. Each of us had been adapting to Mom’s absence for another year. Each of us was dealing with day-to-day life without Mom while dealing with the emotional reality of it all.
That year, I had Mother’s Day Sunday brunch with my Alice and her daughter Claudia and several friends. When Claudia presented her mom with a card and a beautiful bouquet of flowers, I couldn’t help noticing that one of the young women in our group seemed to turn away. Her name was Moira. I turned to her and asked her what was going on. She told me that it had been years since her mom died, and she still missed her, but that she’s always afraid to say anything at these events and ruin everyone else’s joy.
I told her that my mom had died about a year and half ago and one thing I’d learned was that wonderful things happen when I tell the truth about my feelings.
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