The best way to celebrate a mom
There’s a commercial on the radio that’s playing right now, in the lead up to Mother’s Day. I heard this morning as I was getting ready for work. A soft female voice asked me: “What’s the one word that describes your mother?” I promptly replied “Dead.”
I have to admit, I laughed at the excellent timing of my own joke. Then I glanced around to see if anyone had heard me, then I felt a little guilty, as if my mom had heard me somehow. Thing is, I know that if she did hear me, she chuckled at my joke too. That was her kind of humour. And it’s my way of coping with the fact that this will be my tenth Mother’s Day without my mother.
I don’t even have a mother-in-law. My mother-in-law from my first marriage and I are on good terms, and I will likely send her a wee note for the occasion, but she’s not my mother-in-law any more. My husband’s mother is in the same sad predicament my mother’s in, so we have no one to celebrate this Sunday.
I don’t often go to where my parents are buried, here in the Uxbridge cemetery. I should go, just to see that the stone is cleared off and legible. Maybe plant some flowers, so it doesn’t look like the occupants are long forgotten. Because they most certainly aren’t. My parents are there, alongside my maternal grandparents – they’ve got Happy Hour going on all the time, there! But I don’t go to the grave site often because I just don’t feel that they’re there. I don’t feel that looking at a stone that has my mom’s name etched into it brings me any closer to her than if I’m sitting in my bedroom, just having a moment and reflecting. If anything, seeing my mother’s name on a headstone makes me feel worse – it is a cold, granite reminder that starkly announces Sharlene Margaret Van Nieuwenhove is no longer of this earth. I could do without the reminder, thanks.
I’m reminded of Mom every time one of her grandchildren hits a milestone in their lives. My eldest was accepted into her first choice program and university last week. The first thing I wanted to do once I had found out was call my mom to tell her the great news.
My middle daughter sometimes has a bit of a rough time coping with this crazy world. I often wonder if she’d be as anxious if she had my mom to talk to – that woman was the most down-to-earth, reasonable, level-headed being you could ever meet. She would no doubt talk sense to my daughter in a kind, understanding way and say things that wouldn’t seem realistic at the time, but would come back afterwards, providing a calm, grounding moment in what could be a hectic day.
My youngest – she’s quite a personality, and has obtained rock-star status at her school. It would be so wonderful to see how she and my mom would react to one another, play off of each another. I imagine they would be two peas in a pod, and very hard to separate.
When I have those harsh moments of missing my mom so badly my heart hurts, I try to go inside my own head for a moment and really take a good look at her face. Then I try to recollect how her skin felt, or her hair. The hardest thing to pull up from my memory is her voice. I often have trouble with that – not because I’ve forgotten, but because the world is too loud, and even in silence it’s difficult to summon her voice perfectly – I can’t hear a whole sentence, I only get the essence of what she sounded like. And it makes me sad.
It makes me sad because I would move heaven and earth to hear that voice again. To be able to stop at the house, just out of town, south on Hwy. 47, for a minute, or a quick visit, or to go for dinner. To sit, and to share. I have a few very, very dear friends with whom I can unburden and share my life with, but my mom was really the only one I could completely be myself with. She was my very best friend.
When my daughter found out her university news last week, she says the first thing she did was call me. I grin broadly just thinking about that. My girls have all said at some point, recently, that they regard me as their best friend. High praise, indeed, from an 18 and a 16-year old. I sadly know moms whose daughters of the same age don’t even speak to them. I’m incredibly lucky that I have the kind of relationship that I do with my girls. I’m not a parent who thinks it’s important to be my child’s friend, I can be a parent when I need to be. But because I spent so much time with them when they were younger, we became a unit that seemed to operate best when all together. When my middle girl moved away the unit fell apart a little, but I think it’s back now, stronger than ever. I love hanging out with these blossoming human beings – they’re fabulous to be with, remarkable to talk to, as trying as all heck at times, but I love them more than my own life, and wouldn’t have our relationship any other way.
My mom doesn’t need to be alive to be celebrated. She’s celebrated every day, as I try to guide her granddaughters to adulthood. They even have Mom’s twisted sense of humour. That’s a legacy unto itself.