Mothers day

May 3, 2011
Mom & me, circa 1996, Pacifica, CA

This is the twelfth Mother’s Day since mine’s been gone. And while her death left a gaping hole in my life, the passing years have dulled the sharp pang of loss I used to feel this time of year.

In just about two months, I’ll visit her grave at the cemetery in upstate New York. Well, it’s not a grave, actually. She didn’t want to be “put in the ground,” so she and my father rest above ground in a mausoleum. I haven’t been there in a very long time, but if I remember correctly, there’s a bench in front, a place to sit and reflect. I do recall that fresh flowers aren’t allowed. Too messy, I guess. Only fakes once you’re dead and interred at Holy Sepulchre. I’ve seen a lot of weather-resistant plastic flowers. Which is kind of sad.

Hubby says I just want to go to show my mother he’s really back. I hadn’t thought of that, because I am certain that my mother was the instigator of this reconciliation so many decades after our divorce. { She was crazy about him and took our divorce personally. Which made my life hell. But then, that’s a story for another day.}

Not everyone believes in visions and messages from the other side, but I do, and I’m kind of jealous of friends whose loved ones appear to them. Even though I was the kind of Catholic girl who read the story of St. Bernadette and then was terrified the Virgin Mary would appear to me, like she did to young Bernadette. So my prayers always ended “…and please, Blessed Mother, don’t appear to me tonight.” So that may have pretty much closed off the visions option for me.

Some of my friends’ mothers appear to them in dreams, smiling benevolently as if to say, “I’m just fine.” But I haven’t had one of those dreams yet. I’m told that if you remember a dream vividly, it was an appearance, otherwise it’s just a dream. The only dream I remember vividly was my mother telling me sternly that I wasn’t a very spiritual person.

That’s what she said. “Carol, you’re not a very spiritual person.”

Yeah. I know. It really zinged me.

But then, to be honest, she could be a bitch.

What, you surprised I’d say that?

Well, you know, your mother is your mother, for better or for worse. We don’t always live in our best moments, none of us, and our moms are no different.

Mom did, however, communicate with me very clearly a few months after her death. My then-husband and I had moved back to California and were unpacking boxes that had been closed up for years. I picked up a folder from one box, and this yellowed newspaper clipping dropped out. It was the only thing that fell out of the folder. Can you read it? It’s a poem called I Am Always Here.

If you look carefully, you can see that my mother had written on the bottom, “THIS IS PERFECT!” The clipping is dated 1984, the year I first moved to California. She must have sent it to me then, but I have no memory of ever seeing it before. None. I am certain that this was a very clear message from my mother that she would always be with me.

My mother’s messages to me since then have been much more subtle. I have to be paying close attention. In fact, I got one just the other day. Some might call things like this coincidence, but that’s not how I see it.

My father also hit me up the day of his funeral in a very big way. I got on the plane after I eulogized him at his funeral Mass, and heard these lyrics just as I stepped aboard: “There could never be a father who loved his daughter more than I love you…I’m gonna watch you shine, I’m gonna watch you grow…”

It was Paul Simon’s song, Father & Daughter, which I’d never heard before. Maybe you’ve heard the song and maybe it’s famous, but I promise you, I had never heard it.

Coincidence? Nahh. No way.

So Mother’s Day, today. And soon, Father’s Day.

Now, these manufactured holidays and the ads for jewelry, brunch, appliances pass like any other day. But I have to admit I miss my mom’s manipulative maternal energy and my father’s new-found sweetness in his last years.

The Master Hand in charge of things, though, has made sure I have maternal energy in my life, different from my mother’s, but still identifiable. I’m grateful.

If you’re lucky enough to still have your mother, hug her extra tight whenever you see her.

Hope you had a really great Mother’s Day.

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