Sunday is Mother’s Day. Every year I reprise this hug and kiss. A mother-lover, I loved Mom more than any other creature alive.
Times exist when we all feel alone. Frightened. Early on, there was always my mother. To hold me. Love me. Make fears go away.
She had to work. I was anemic. Sickly. Yet she never faulted. She was always there for me.
This seems bizarre, but — excuse me — whoever loves and has a pet will understand. My 3¹₂-pound Yorky looks to me for everything. Food, water, safety, warmth, health, cleanliness, comfort and a place to sleep. She knows there’s a higher power to protect her. I understand that. I remember having that.
We had no money. My grandmother was a janitress. Cleaned stoops. Took in boarders. My mother, Jessica, an executive secretary, married a dentist but soon decided she didn’t even like his teeth. They divorced after I was born, and she became a single parent. She pawned things when we needed things.
Mother was beautiful. I was not. Eager for me to become somebody, Mom put me in a little smalltime acting class to improve my speech, learn to walk straight, be taught style and makeup. Once, she even took me to a modeling agency. Her mantra: “My daughter is going to become somebody.” Severely underwhelmed, they said, “Maybe, but not here.”
One thing the acting school didn’t teach was refinement. For a party, after she saved up to buy me a pretty dress trimmed with fake fur, I ended up spilling food all over it. She washed the dress. The fake fur went stiff. We threw it out.
I grew up — but never away. When I married, we bought her an apartment one block from ours. That one block was traversed either telephonically, or actually, daily.
Memories can be painful, too
Years can also bring pain. Time came when her home became a hospital bed. Not in any institution. In a country home I provided for her. With people to watch over her. This gigantic persona — stunning, strong, she’d been witty, bright, sassy, smart, verbal. She played games, she was fun-loving, she entertained, she had friends, she was a very savvy, killer lady who’d been everything, the core of my being — and she no longer knew who I was. She lay unfocused. Not speaking. As I write now, I am crying. Back then, I was steeling myself. She didn’t know who I was, but I knew who she was. Why do I write this every year? Because people who also love their mothers, always remind me to do it. And because it’s the only way I can pretend to bring her back to me, even for a few minutes.
Time goes on
I once even tried to crawl into that bed alongside her. There was no way. And I grew terrified. What if I’d frighten her, or the bed would collapse?
I could only stroke that small head that had once been filled with information — big, strong, topped with a full mane of thick red hair. Now, tiny. The hair white. Sparse. Shiny.
I had no brothers or sisters. I married in my teens. We were four. The dad she subsequently married, and who brought me up, went next. Then, we were three.
After that, my husband. Then, we were two. Four months later, my Mom. And now, I’m one.
Call your ma!
It’s tough to lose your mother. I’d forfeit everything to give her a gentle, tender hug. One that couldn’t be understood, or even returned. In those final days, I brought her stuffed teddy bears to place against the cold, steel bars of a hospital bed — so those curled fingers might feel something soft.
I repeat each year: I know that for whatever reasons there exist wide gaps between many a mother and child in many a family. Not for me to understand why, nor for me to sit in judgment.
It’s just that — if it’s within your ability — you need to call her. Tell your mother you love her.
I wish I could.
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