Category Archives: Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day—After Years of Dreading It I Can Finally Embrace It

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

(updated  from 2016 article)

Mother’s Day is here and I will tell you immediately that it has never been my favorite holiday.

My mother died 56 years ago. She had just turned 40. (She had Leukemia and if you had Leukemia 56 years ago, you were “toast”.)  For some reason, I have only a few obscure memories of her. And, for me, that is an emptiness that has always exploded  inside me during the Mother’s Day celebration.

We were kids when she died. At fifteen, I was the oldest. My sister and brothers (the two youngest have now passed away) remembered details about her such as the softness of her hair, her laugh, how she loved cherry vanilla ice-cream, or pulling the shopping cart to the A&P. As for me, I had nothing except the information they had to share.

My Mom  circa 1939  age 19

I have been told that I was traumatized by her death and involuntarily blocked her out of my mind. I thought, how could that be true? I have experienced death taking my closest family members including: my wife, Loretta, 14 years ago married 35 years),  my second wife, Marty, only five weeks ago (we had been married for 10 years), a  stillborn daughter, my dad,  my two youngest brothers and Grandma, who died as I held her when I was 18. But, fortified by my Catholic faith, I always managed, to move through the grief process and learn to accept what happened.  But with my Mom that process never completed itself.


But I finally came to understand why I have been “stuck in the mud” with my Mom’s sudden passing albeit so long ago. I was selfish. I never thought about what must have been going through her mind as she lay dying at the age of 39. It was always about me and how MY mom died. That was the reason for my decades old problem. Therein was the cause of my emptiness. It was never about her. I felt sorry for myself when she died and kept feeling sorry for myself, year after year after year.

I needed help and finally it came.  Out of the clear blue my daughter, Mary, calls me and, during the conversation says, “Hey dad, do you realize I’m going to be 39 on my next birthday?”
Talk about being hit by lightning. My own daughter was going to be the same age as my own mother was when she was slowly being killed by an insidious, no holds barred, and merciless disease. I had never thought of my Mom as a 39 year old woman with five kids. I thought of her as my Mom, who died on ME. How pathetic is that?

Mary, who also happens to look a lot like the grandma she never knew, had only asked me a simple question. She could not have known the power that was in it. She had no idea that at that moment it removed the veil from my clouded “mom world” and set me on my journey to discover the woman and person who was also my mother.

Following decades of self-pity, I began to quietly ponder about this woman who carried me in her womb, who nursed me, fed me, bathed me, held me and hugged me, nursed me and my siblings through illnesses such as mumps, measles and chicken pox (all of which I have no memory), who cleaned, washed and ironed clothes, cooked, shopped and even worked part time, and how she must have felt as she prepared to leave her family behind while facing death. How awful and terrifying that must have been for her?

How did she hold her year and a half old son on her lap and look at him without going hysterical, knowing soon she would be gone? How did she handle thinking about her six year old son, missing his front teeth, who she would never give a sweet hug to again?  She had a ten year old who was in fourth grade and always needed his mom to help him with his homework. Would his dad help him? Probably not, he was so lousy at spelling and grammar.

And of course, there was my sister, her “little” girl. But she was 13 already, she was growing up. She would need her Mom, to talk to about woman things.  How did she bare holding onto the knowledge that her children would soon be motherless? What did she say to our dad, her husband and lover, as they lay together in bed, in the dark of night waiting for the inevitable as their five kids slept?

Sunday morning at Mass the priest will talk about mothers, living and deceased. This year I will be proud of the God loving, faithful, kind and courageous woman that was MY Mom. I may only have a few scattered memories of her but it doesn’t matter anymore. It was never about “poor me”, it was about her. I was such a jerk not to see it.

On this Mother’s Day I will also thank God for that phone call from Mary. I will then thank Him for my Mom. And to all the loving, caring Moms everywhere, God bless you all and Happy Mother’s Day.

                                ©Larry Peterson 2016 

My Mother's Day Paradox: I Cannot Wait for it to End

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson      
           
 Mother’s Day is here again and, I have to tell you, it is not my favorite day. Please do not misunderstand,  I certainly have nothing against Moms. Heck, my wife was a mom, my sister is a mom, my daughter is a mom and I have nieces who are moms and so on.  I know thousands of Moms and, for the most part, I love and respect them all. After all, Motherhood is the very linchpin of the family and the family is the linchpin of a society.  (That is a topic for another time)

But, here is my dilemma.  I have only the most obscure memories of my Mom. That is because she died 54 years ago. (She had leukemia and if you had leukemia 54 years ago you were “toast”.)  Anyway, for the first time in my life I am  admitting that  her death left me empty, very empty and that emptiness explodes inside me during the Mother’s Day celebration.
                               
 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 thick, opaque veil? I do not know. What I do know is what is NOT there. “Mom memories” are missing from inside my head. That veil has never lifted in over 54 years.

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 NOT to think of her.  But 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, all year long I manage to stuff this “mom” stuff deep inside myself. But then, right after Easter, the Mother’s Day cards hit the stores.  Avoidance of the big day becomes next to impossible. The attacks on my sub-conscious increase unmercifully as the weeks go by and then the onslaught ensues. The two weeks before Mother’s Day are brutal. The print ads came out, television commercials pound the “Mom” message, cut flowers appear everywhere, the cakes are advertised and the restaurants offer deals that will only cost about a week’s salary to sit and enjoy.  It  wears me out.  I want it to be over.

Sunday morning at Mass the priest will probably give a homily on motherhood. He will probably use the Blessed Virgin Mary as a focal point. Then he will ask all of the women who are moms to please stand or raise their hands.  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. For me, the one day of the year we honor Moms is nothing but a paradox. Before the happy day even starts I cannot wait for it  to end.

For those who might be able to relate to this, on Mother’s Day I will be praying for all of you and your Moms. Maybe you can do the same for me. And, may God bless all moms, living and deceased.

    ©2015 Larry Peterson All Rights Reserved

Mother's Day–I Want It to be Over

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.