Tag Archives: Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day—Making Peace with my most UN-favorite Holiday

 Hug them and kiss them–Sometimes you don’t get a second chance. Trust me, I know.

Our Mom, Lillian      age 39;  1959        Passed in 1960

By Larry Peterson

Mother’s Day is here, and I will tell you immediately that it has never been my favorite holiday. Truth be known, it has been my most dreaded holiday. I know that is pathetic. So please bear with me as I share my journey to finally finding some inner peace with this beautiful holiday.

My mother died 59 years ago. She had just turned 40. (She had Leukemia, and if you had Leukemia 59 years ago, you were “toast.”)  For some reason, I have only a few faded 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. There were five of us, and 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, memories were almost all gone. Fortunately, I had the second-hand information my younger siblings shared.

Death visited us often when we were young. Grandma (she lived with us) died two years after Mom. Dad died two years after her. We were officially orphans (that became a novel, The Priest and The Peaches), and we hung together and survived and did okay. But ‘death” kept lurking, and over the years, my sister was widowed, my brother was widowed, and I was widowed—twice. The two youngest, Bobby and Johnny, also have passed. but it all began with Mom.

I always managed, fortified by my Catholic faith, to move through the grief process and learn to accept what happened. It was sort of like making peace with someone you wish you never met. But with my Mom, that process never completed itself until recently. (I never realized until years later how she was always teaching us a lesson as she lay there either holding her blue Rosary or having it next to her. It was like it was a part of her).

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, called me and, during the conversation, said, “Hey dad, do you realize I’m going to be 40 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 40-year-old woman with five kids. I thought of her as my Mom, who died on ME. How pathetic was 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.

It had taken decades but I finally began to reflect and ponder about this woman I had called “mommy.”  Her name was Lillian, and she carried me in her womb. She fed me, bathed me, held me and hugged me, nursed my siblings and me through illnesses such as mumps, measles, and chickenpox (all of which I have no memory). This woman cleaned our house, washed and ironed our clothes, cooked, shopped, and even worked part-time. I cannot imagine how she must have felt as she prepared to leave her family knowing  death was getting  closer and closer.  How awful and terrifying that must have been for her?

How did she hold her not yet two-year-old son on her lap and look at him without going hysterical,? 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? I never considered such a thing.

And of course, there was my sister, Mommie’s “little” girl. But she was 13 already, and 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?

The following part in italics pertains to my Dad. It fits into this short narrative

I have harbored one regret over the years, and it pertained to my Dad.  Four years after Mom passed, Dad had an acute attack of pancreatitis. He was in the hospital, and it was 11 P.M. I was standing by the door to his room looking in. He had IV lines and tubes coming out of him from who knows where. A big bottle of ‘gunk” was on the floor that these tubes were draining into. I thought I would be sick. He was looking at me, and I could see the fear in his face. Guess what I did? Nothing, yes, I did nothing.  I did not go over to him and hold his hand.  I never hugged him. I just said, “See ya tomorrow.”

I gave him a cursory wave, and then I left. He died three hours later. Yeah, I know, I was young and blah-[blah-blah. No matter—that is a REGRET. I left my own  Dad alone to die by himself. It has been 55 years, and the pain of my actions still has not subsided.

 It took a very long time but I have forgiven myself for being an insensitive kid. I am long past feeling sorry for “me.”  Those thoughts about my Mom have brought me to a better place. However, that refreshed mindset has unveiled a new regret. Now I have one for Dad and one for Mom. I guess I deserve them both. I earned them for sure.

Mom had been close to death several days before Christmas, 1960. But she made a miraculous recovery and came home. (See story here)  During the first part of February, she took ill again. I have this vivid memory of her lying in bed with Bobby, age six, and Johnny, who just had his second birthday, each nestled into the crook of her arms, one on the left and one on the right. Her best friend Adeline was standing there talking to her about something, and she was looking at me. I said, “Okay, I have to go to work.” (I worked for the local grocer delivering groceries) and I left. No hug, no kiss, I never even said good-bye.

When I got home, she was not there. She was back in the hospital. We were supposed to see her Saturday morning but she died before we got there. I will always regret that I never HUGGED or KISSED my Mom one last time that one damn day. Sometimes you don’t get a second chance. Trust me, I know.

On this Mother’s Day, I will also thank God for that phone call from Mary. I will then thank Him for my Mom. Then I will go home, and, fortified by a different mindset, will sit by myself and cry…just maybe not as much.

Copyright©Larry Peterson 2020

Make NO Mistake and Never Forget; Mothers are Women and Female is their Gender

 

A Mom & Her Son–Bound Forever
by Author

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Larry Peterson

I found myself writing this for Mother’s Day because the legal definition of “gender” has become controversial. I begin with a quote from Cardinal Giovanni Ravasi; President of the Pontifical Council of Culture: “The love of man and woman, capable of generating life, is a sign that points to God.”

The following comes from personal experience. My youngest brother, Johnny, had just turned two when Mom died. The previous six months she had been, for the most part, in the hospital. Johnny grew up without ever knowing his mom and her hugs or her voice or her caress. His ‘shrink,’ told him his “problems” with relationships were due to the fact he had lost his Mom as a baby. Johnny took his own life three years ago.

Bobby was six years old when  Mom died. He always had an anger in him that could expose itself to perceived provocations. He passed away suddenly, eleven years ago. His killer was congestive heart failure. I still think his heart had been irreparably broken at age six and it just took another forty years to give out.

Danny was ten. He is still fine, and we are in frequent contact.  I was the oldest, and my sister was second. Dad died a few years after Mom, and we tried to be a mom and a dad to our three brothers. We did our best, but we were in water way over our heads. We did survive as a family but, as you can see, having no Mom had profound consequences (the dad part I will leave for another day).

I move ahead 16 years to the birth of my daughter. Times were changing, and when Mary came along, I was present, and all decked out in my scrubs and sterile gloves (Prior to that time, Dads were not allowed into the delivery room).

I was sitting at the end of the delivery room table with my right hand holding the top of my wife’s head. I was looking up into a mirror watching the birth take place. And then, Doctor Butler began to lift his arms and in his hands was a baby. Our baby—a girl.

It seemed that almost instantly the nurse was next to me handing me, my daughter. Her face was still gooey, and her eyes were wide open. She was not crying but rather, she kept staring at me. Her eyes were as blue as the sky and as big as saucers. That was my moment, etched within my mind forever. A more profound moment was on the way.

Within moments baby Mary was being lifted from my hands and taken to her waiting Mom. Still lying on the delivery table, Loretta reached out for her baby. That was the moment I understood the power and intrinsic importance of a mom. A mother and her child are forever bound by an unbreakable bond that can only be felt between them. I also believe that dynamic is similar to every child that a mom gives birth too.

There are many moms who have, because of whatever circumstance and oftentimes out of love and humility, given their child up for adoption. In my heart of hearts, I do not believe any woman “happily” gives away her own child. Interestingly, the adoptive parents will generally love that child as if she or he was their very own and the children would assuredly love them back.

But, at some point in time, the children have a need arise within themselves to ‘find” their Birth Mom and/or Birth Dad. That is because an unbreakable bond is always there. No one can remove it or take it away or replace it. It is what it is.

For some, Gender Neutrality may be the “feel good” movement for the present moment. But it is a premise built on quicksand and defies all of the Natural Law. Pope St. John Paul II summed it up best: “God has assigned a duty to every man, the dignity of every woman.” 

Within those words are the inspiration for both men and women to defend what God has created.

Wishing all Moms, both living and passed on, a HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY

And please say a prayer for all those folks who cannot remember what having a Mom was like.