I always wonder what to buy Mom for Mother’s Day. She put up with the all the silly, useless clutter my three siblings and I made for her back in the 1970’s, and knowing my Mom, she probably never threw a bit of it away. To this day, she is constantly sorting through papers, trying to figure out what to keep or discard, wondering what she will need or want or miss as she grows older.
What to buy Mom for Mother’s Day? I can’t bring back what she’s missing. Two of her four children.
What my Mom doesn’t have is a recent Thank You note from me. So here goes:
Thank you for starting your family in the 1960’s, when it was commonplace to have four children by the time you were 30 years old and you, Mom, came in dead last on the priority list. Your twenties were poop and puke. You wore it beautifully, even in the early days, in Glen Rock, New Jersey, with a husband who went to night school at Rutgers and two timid little girls who wouldn’t leave the front steps due to our fear of ants. You nicknamed us Maude and Harriett. You laughed at our game of pretending we were the teenage girls in that New York commuter neighborhood as we dubbed ourselves “Vicky and Linda Hopper.” Linda Hopper was cool and had boobs.
What to Buy Mom for Mother’s Day? A Thank You Note.
Once we moved to Ohio, thank you for letting me puke all over you as we rode home from the hospital after my concussion and broken face from a Banana Seat bike wreck that slammed me headfirst onto a gravel road. I look back now at the face that looked like a pizza and the head trauma, not as a seven year old, but as a Mom in those pre-helmet days and I wonder how horrible that must have been for you?
And thank you for recognizing that Sister Mary Anthony was wrong. I wasn’t a teenage slut at 12 because she didn’t like the way I “Sashayed to Holy Communion” one Friday Mass. I was just in a great mood that day and she wasn’t. You were right to politely and quietly move me to a more “Sashay Friendly” school the next year, where I could be me.
Thank you for driving me on my sixth grade paper route when the Sunday inserts were too heavy, and it was dark and scary. And for forgiving me when I never collected most of the money because I was too afraid to knock on some of my customers’ doors and ask for payment, but I didn’t tell you. Thanks for cleaning up that mess. I’ll never be an accountant.
Thanks for “Dusty.” Silver Stardust was a seventh grader’s dream come true, that beautiful, gray Arabian Horse, the gelding I bought with my paper route and baby sitting earnings. Thank you for the trips to the Tack Store to buy him Apple Love treats, thanks for the trips to buy grain, halters and bridles. And most of all, thanks for any and all comfort a Mom could give to a pre-adolescent daughter who lost the first love of her life in a tragic accident. As a mom, you had to comfort your daughter but also deal with the logistics. How do you even deal with such heartbreak while flipping through a giant Yellow Pages book and calling around on a 1970’s landline to inquire about humane disposal of a horse who has been hit by a car?
There is so much more. Divorce in your thirties, College in your forties. Losing two daughters and a grandson along the way. Having a son who ended up in a surprising and heartbreaking situation. Re-marriage and then widowhood, all in your fifties. And still persevering, even as you watch me go down in flames in my career. I know you are fine with that, Mom. To loosely quote Frank Sinatra, We Did it Our Way. Mistakes are allowed and encouraged, because they are bound to happen.
Happy Mother’s Day. Thank you, and I love you. Messy and imperfect, but Our Way.