by Larry Peterson
NB: Many people, young and old alike, have a hard time on Mother’s Day because their mom is no longer with them. Some have fond, loving memories of their mom. That is wonderful. Others, depending on circumstances, have memories that may be harsh and include abandonment or abuse. Then there might be those who have very few memories. Mother’s Day presents a mixed bag of emotions for many people. It certainly is not about flowers, hugs, and kisses. Many times it is about “what ifs” or “if only”. What follows is about me because, when all is said and done, if your mom is gone, you emotionally experience this day alone, even within your own family.
So, Mother’s Day is here again and, I have to tell you, it is not my favorite day. I’m not trying to be a “party pooper” and I certainly have nothing against moms. Heck, my wife was a mom, my sister is a mom, I have grown children and my daughter is a mom and I have grandkids and I have nieces and nephews. I know thousands of Moms. (And–I love you all.) But, here is my dilemma. I do not have a Mom nor do I have memories of one. Don’t misunderstand, I did have a Mom just like everyone else, but she died 53 years ago. (She had leukemia and if you had leukemia 53 years ago you were “toast”.) Anyway, for the first time in my life I am admitting that her death left me empty, very empty to this very day.
We were kids when she died and I was the oldest of the five. For some reason, I have just fleeting memories of her. My sister remembers her and my brothers remember her, not much mind you, but a lot more than I do. They even remember little things, those special nuances that made her unique to each of them. Well, maybe not Johnny, he was only two years old, but the others for sure. I have been told that I was traumatized by her death and involuntarily blocked her out of my mind. Could that be true? Could that still be going on inside me? Could I have been so stunned that my brain, in an attempt to protect me, covered up the memories with a deeply opaque veil? I do not know. What I do know is what is NOT there.
I have some pictures of her and I also have her high school yearbook. I have no recordings of her voice or moving pictures of her or anything like that. It is strange to me but I try my best to NOT think of her. Amazingly, I have failed miserably at doing that every single day of my life since she died. I do manage to shove those thoughts way back in my head every day but they never just “go away”. The slightest thing triggers “mommy” thoughts in me, especially when I see a child (small or grown) being hugged by their mom. I always think how wonderful that must feel. I can’t even imagine it. How pathetic is that. I guess I am just a senior citizen stuck at age 15 when it comes to my mother. (Damn–I cannot believe I am even writing this stuff.)
Okay now, I manage to stuff this “mom” stuff all year long and then, right after Valentine’s Day, the Mother’s Day cards hit the stores. Avoidance for me becomes next to impossible. The attacks increase unmercifully as the weeks go by and then the onslaught ensues. The past two weeks have been brutal as the print ads came out and cut flowers appeared everywhere and the cakes are advertised and the restaurants offer deals and every other TV commercial is promoting “Mom” stuff—it wears me out. I want it to be over.
Sunday morning at Mass the priest will probably give a homily on motherhood focusing on the Blessed Virgin Mary. Then he will ask all of the women who are moms to please stand. Most women in the church will do so. He will bestow a blessing on them remembering all the deceased moms too. Everyone will applaud the moms, living and dead. I will applaud also and my best wishes and prayers will go out to all Moms everywhere. I just won’t remember anything about my own mom. The truth of the matter is, inside my own personal world, I will be very glad when Mother’s Day is over.