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A Tribute to My Mom, Elga

I had nearly forgotten it was Mother’s Day until my beloved turned to me this morning, shortly after I rubbed the sleep from my eyes and with a loving, manly voice said, “Happy Mommy’s Day!”  It took me a moment as I envisioned a calendar in my mind – yep – he was right.  It was Mother’s Day.  How could I have let that slip my mind, especially since we had planned to go out-of-town to celebrate Mother’s Day with David’s family, and with his mother, Lydia.  Then I realized I had literally pushed all plans out of my mind this past week because David didn’t feel well and I spent the greater portion of the week seeing after him – in essence, being a mother, but to my man cub.  After a few seconds, I turned to David and responded, “Thank you, baby.”  I lay there and thought more about Mother’s Day and realized it had really snuck up on me this time, even though weeks before, I was making plans for this day.  Then the feeling that I get every year since 2002 (the year my mom passed) set in for a moment.  I thought to myself, I don’t have a mother to wish a “Happy Mother’s Day” and a tear began to slide slowly down my right cheek.   I started to miss mom again; that old familiar feeling of not having her here on this earth with me and the longing to have her here just one more day to tell her how deeply I love and respect her.  Especially on this day, a day to honor my mother for all she endured when I was growing up and all the worry and trouble that I put her through unnecessarily over the years.   

It wasn’t that I was a bad daughter at all – a typical kid, a rebellious and sometimes smart-mouthed teenager, and  a  know-it-all young adult – really, a good kid with the usual growing pains at each stage, but all the same, creating worry, panic, excitement, pride, and a host of other emotions that all mothers experience with each of their children through the several stages of life; stages that I have now experienced and continue to experience with my own daughters - my mother’s precious granddaughters.   As I think of my mother on this day and her telling me many years ago before I had children, “You better watch what you say and do and how you treat your daddy and me because one day, you will get your comeuppance.”  How I despised that word and cringed every time she said it, but oh, was my mother correct – I’ve lived through many of those experiences and paybacks with my own daughters and I continue to do so.  I think back to those days with my mom and the same antics my daughters use on me are the ones I tried with my mom (to no avail, of course).  I see myself using my mother’s words when I discipline or counsel my daughters; my actions are the same as my mothers’ were.  And now the difference is I FEEL the feelings that I know my mother must have felt when a not-so-kind word or action was literally spewed at her by me.  I feel the hurt, yet I still proceed to handle my daughters from a loving place deep inside of me.  I find myself employing all the tools and tactics that my mother used with me, even at the height of confusion and conflict.  My mother, always gracious and loving, yet she could immediately engage her claws if one of her cubs was endangered or threatened.  I see myself doing the same as she did throughout my life.  She taught me well, though now I am able to see that place from where her wisdom came and I am much better equipped to understand how she felt during the trying times of my youth.  It is because of this that I continue to honor my mother on this day even though she is no longer beside me on this earth.  I know on some level that she is smiling down and proud, but also that she is smiling because I continue to get my comeuppance and in double dosages.   I want my mom to know (and I am certain she does) that I “get it” now.  I know exactly the feelings she experienced at all levels and I know part of her smile from above is knowing that I am experiencing what she felt all those years ago and in abundance. 

This year is the first since mom’s passing that I can now honor her on this day with a simple reflection on the past and a nod to the present, and yes of course, writing to document my feelings for mom.  It was a hard road to get to this point, because mom is still very deeply missed, but I know she would not want me to pine away and be sad on this day.  Mom would say, “Enough of those tears; go and be with those babies and enjoy this day.”  Well mom, that is my plan for today – just as you would have wanted and just how it should be.   So, mom, before I go to be with my own family on this special day, this one’s for you:

Dearest Mom:

I remember your delight each Mother’s Day.  It was another opportunity to celebrate with your family; another occasion to go out to a special breakfast or brunch and enjoy the cards and gifts that were showered upon you.  For me, those times were exciting, both to spend that special time with you and to select an extra special gift that you would enjoy, then to see your face, full of surprise and delight as you opened it.  The warmth of your smile could light up the room and draw attention from others as you gleefully opened your gifts and hugged and kissed each child and grandchild, thankful for their existence and their everlasting presence in your life.   I remember all of those times, mom, and I cherish each and every one of them, not only because they are special times that weave the fabric of my past, but they helped to prepare a firm foundation for my future.  As I reflect on those special times with you, I remember that I do have a mother to wish a “Happy Mother’s Day” – I have you to thank for all of those happy memories and I also have you to honor and remember as a very special part of my life.  Even though you are not physically here with me, I feel you around me all the time.  There is a part of you in everything I do; when I am successful, I feel you smiling down at me while nodding your approval and showing your excitement and pride.  When I fall short, I feel your loving arms around me, your cheek against my temples whispering words of encouragement in my ear, reminding me that I can do whatever I put my mind to.  You’re still very much a real part of my life, mom.  I am thankful for all the lessons you have taught me and yes, I’m thankful for that word I dreaded to hear when I was growing up – “comeuppance.”  Instead of cringing at that word, I welcome it now.  It gives me a deeper understanding of what you went through – what you endured for me.   Because of you, I’ve become a better, stronger person and for that, I honor you – my dear mother.

With all my love, Your Daughter, Julie