I don’t know how to feel. This weekend – Mother’s Day – was always a very big deal in my family. My Grandmother’s birthday was May 7th. Mine is May 10th. So every few years one of ours fell on Mother’s Day. In 1964, the 10th WAS Mother’s Day. My gift to my Mother that year was all day long labor! Being born on that day created something a little special between us three.
Sunday dinner (see – good Southern girl here!) was fried chicken or roast beef with all the trimmings – Corn on the cob, potato salad, carrots and potatoes, biscuits, green beans. You get the idea. And a big birthday cake that Grandmother and I shared. It was much later in life that I realized how much work MY Mother put in to make that day special for HER mother and me. I grew up and moved away, but tried to be home every year. I might miss Easter, but Mother’s Day I was coming.
When we lost my Grandmother, that holiday became a little less “holiday”, a little more somber. I was in Nashville and unable to get home at the end, but my Mother held the phone to her ear so I could tell her I loved her. I knew Mother loved her mother, but I had no idea what she was feeling. Until now.
On August 11, 2016, after battling ovarian cancer for 3 ½ years, my Mother “traded up,” as my sister put it, and went home to her Jesus. I don’t say that lightly, or to make myself feel better about the afterlife. I say it because I know it to be true. God is real, heaven is real, and Mother is dancing in the streets! And while “we do not grieve like the rest, who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13), we do indeed grieve.
As soon as Easter passes (or even before!), the Mother’s Day items appear; cards, gifts, flowers. “The perfect gift for Mom” floods my TV, radio and social media news feed. And it hurts. To my core. That might be the first time I’ve actually admitted that. I want to call her and tell her all about Kendall’s apartment. I want to talk about Will’s job and Lauren’s sweet puppy! I want to see her make “that” face when Sandi and I get a little carried away picking at her and ask her more questions about her family and childhood. I’m not sure how to do this – life with her not in it. You KNOW your parents will most likely pass before you do, but I don’t care how sick they are or how they struggle, you ARE NOT ready for it. I was ready for Mother to no longer suffer, to be whole again. But couldn’t she be whole HERE?!!
So, as that day approaches again, I do not know how I will handle it. Last year, I could not go to church; I barely got out of bed. I will always feel a little remorse because I know my Daddy was hurting, and I couldn’t give him anything – I just didn’t have it to give. It’s my birthday, and I want to play and be happy (I LOVE me a birthday party!). I’m a mother, and I want to celebrate that. But I’m the last of the trio and part of me doesn’t want fanfare and celebration. Maybe that will change as time goes on, I don’t know. I know that neither Mother nor Grandmother would want me to be sad and miss out on “my day” (I actually get two when they don’t coincide). The memories are becoming more often warm and sweet, but I still get those gut punches that come out of nowhere. The kind that make you suck in your breath and lose contact with reality for a minute. But in the form of a true Southern Lady, which my Mother was in every sense of the phrase and so I strive to be, I will go forward. I still don’t know what kind of “celebration” there will be for Mother’s Day. My children are scattered, and my Mother lives with Jesus. But I know they love me, and I know she does too.