No mother deserved accolades for Mother’s Day more than mine. Widowed at 48 with four children aged 10 to 15, she worked as a key punch operator for a men’s clothing retailer, a job she would hold for 25 years. She managed to hang on to our house. We were never hungry and did not know how precarious our financial situation was from week to week. She raised all of us to adulthood with an iron fist, ensuring we’d escape the missteps many young people raised in the city often make: unintended pregnancy, dropping out of school, substance abuse, incarceration. This was due to her fierce discipline, unconditional love, and huge faith.
A Life Built on Faith
Mom was deeply religious – 12 years of Catholic school – and had a commitment to God and church that lasted all of her 91 years. As a girl and as a young woman she went to church daily, a habit she picked up again after her retirement. She’d be out the door before 8 am for morning mass well into her mid-80’s. She prayed constantly. “I don’t make a move without Jesus,” she said. She often prayed to win money on lottery tickets or at Bingo to cover unexpected expenses, and she won, big jackpots. A $500 win once or even twice a month was not a surprise. She was lucky, or, as she said, “blessed.”
One sunny morning, years ago, we sat at the kitchen table having coffee, plotting our next adventure. She suddenly became serious and grasped my hand tightly in hers. “Look at me,” she said, and I gave her my full attention. “When I die,” she continued, “don’t be sad, don’t cry, because I’ll be with Jesus, and I’ve been waiting for that all my life.”
I took her words to heart, even pronounced them at her funeral to let others know not to be sad she’s gone. And for the most part I’m not sad she’s no longer here. I think of her every day, several times, but most of the time tears do not sting my eyes. I remember her words and think of her with Jesus, with my dad, and her second husband, and her mom, and all the others who left this earth before she did, and now my brother Vic. They must be having a good time together in heaven. I hope there’s Bingo, and lots of lottery scratch tickets.
Remembering the Laughter, and the Fun
On this Mother’s Day I think of her and send kisses up to heaven, hoping she’ll catch them. I remember how funny she was, especially at the end of her life. I enjoyed her company so much during that time, in spite of her illness and debility and the difficulties they caused. We always made time to laugh.
Mom loved to be the center of attention and loved to have her picture taken. These shots were taken in the Memorial Garden at the nursing facility where she recovered from a fractured hip. I posed her with the blue hydrangeas and my daughter snapped the photos of her making funny faces, pure Marge. Then she added Snapchat filters and boy, did Mom laugh to see herself this way. She was a ham, and God, did I love her.
I miss her.
I know that Mother’s Day can be controversial. No one is guaranteed a good mother. Women who have been the best of mothers are still abandoned or neglected by their children. Women who yearn for children may never have them.The world is full of women with broken hearts, and hurting children too. Mother’s Day can open wounds, trigger old pain and hurt. On this day, let’s celebrate the women in our lives who have nurtured us, regardless of our relationship. Mothering can come in many ways.
A Mother’s Day Giveaway
In honor of mothers – birth moms, step moms, grandmothers, adoptive mothers, foster mothers, pregnant mothers, mothers of lost children – I have two free books to offer you. One is my novel, Blue Hydrangeas, an Alzheimer’s love story. All of my stories have strong women at their core, and Sara, in Blue Hydrangeas, who has lost a daughter and carried on, is one of them. The Kindle edition is free through May 10th. Get it here.
And I’m offering free copies of AlzAuthors first anthology Alzheimer’s and Dementia Caregiving Stories for free on Kindle as well. AlzAuthors, my non-profit, is the global community of authors writing about Alzheimer’s and dementia from personal experience to light the way for others. In this book, 58 authors tell their deeply personal stories about caring for a loved one, often a mother. The stories are short and make for good reading if you’re a caregiver or just interested in the disease. Get it here through May 10th.
Please share both free books with your moms, friends, family, and fellow readers or caregivers.
Please take this journey with me. We can communicate with one another in the comments, perhaps find healing together. Subscribe to this blog to receive email notifications of new posts. Thank you.