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.