To all the moms out their I say Happy Mother's Day! We had very simple plans today. A trip to D&D for coffee and donuts and then time spent on a beach south of here that is said to be covered with sand dollars and other shells. This is one of my favorite ways to spend time with my children...searching the local beaches for special treasures! Unfortunately like many plans these were not to be as my eldest child has come down with a fever and stomach bug! So I am spending Mother's Day doing what mothers do and I have to say that I am fine with that!
For many years Mother' Day has been a tricky day for me for many reasons. As a young adult there was always a level of expectation that something extraordinary must be done or given to my Mom in order to keep the peace. It was always difficult as she had all that she needed and whatever we came up with never seemed to be adequate. R's mom was never as high maintenance as my mom but nonetheless we would be running around at the last minute trying to do or get or plan something special for her too. Looking back seven years after both of their deaths I wish that we had the foresight to just 'be' with our moms!
I read a wonderful article in the Boston Globe today that really touched my heart. I'm including it here because I found it so poignant. I hope you enjoy!
Better memories eclipse the sad this Mother's Day
Dorothy Haley Curtin, the columnist's mother. (Beverly Beckham)
EmailPrintSingle Page Text size – + By Beverly Beckham
May 11, 2008
I don't think about her every day. And I don't cry for her anymore. I can look at pictures of her young and smile. I can read what she wrote in my baby book and not fall apart. I can even listen to the record she made for my father when I was 9 and she was 31 - "Happy anniversary, Larry," she says at the end - and not feel my heart breaking.
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And all this is good, I guess. But for many, many years, I couldn't do any of these things. My mother's voice, her handwriting, every black and white picture in which she is smiling, all the color slides that my father took and labeled, "Dot. Easter, 1957"; "Dot and Bev. August, 1959" - all these things, anything, could make me sob.
She said I was enough. She said she had my father and she had me, and there was nothing else she wanted. She said this all the time.
But I heard her crying in her room and I heard my father say: "It's OK, Dot. We'll try again." And they tried again.
There was music in our house every time my mother was pregnant, the record player on, my mother singing "Nevertheless" and "Little Things Mean a Lot," hope, like perfume, filling the air. But then there was always a trip to the hospital and my grandmother or my aunt or Mona, a neighbor, at the kitchen table and my father sitting there fighting back tears.
I wished for a baby all of my childhood, on every first star, on every wishbone, on every birthday cake. I lit candles at church. Faith the size of a mustard seed could move mountains, Father Finn told me. Ask and you shall receive, he said. So I asked. I begged.
I asked and I begged years later, too, when my mother fell down her cellar stairs. She was 46 and in a coma. I was 24 and had just had my second child, a girl whom I placed next to her, in the crook between her arm and her body. "Wake up, Mom," I begged. "Here she is, the little girl you wanted. Our little girl."
Time heals everything. It must. Because I can go back to this moment now without weeping.
That first Mother's Day after her fall, she was a patient at the Lemuel Shattuck Hospital in Jamaica Plain. She'd been there five months. She couldn't sit up so she had to be tied in her wheelchair. She couldn't lift her head so she had to wear a neck brace. She couldn't hold a spoon so she had to be fed. She couldn't stand or walk or speak.
I remember envying all the people whose mothers weren't broken.
Sixteen years later, I made a videotape for my father. My mother was living at home then and had been for years. I found dozens of old pictures of her and my father young and healthy and set them to the tune of "They Can't Take That Away From Me."
It was the dumbest thing I've ever done.
Because something did take away all the good times. The way she wore her hat? The way she sipped her tea? All the while my mother was alive and struggling to get out of a chair, to get into bed, to walk more than a few feet, to do, to be, the good times were gone for my father and me because they were simply too painful to look back at.
My mother died nearly 20 years ago. Finally, she was free. Now, finally, I am free, too. I can remember her without crying. I can look at old photographs, caress her handwriting, read her words, and think about all she meant to me and all I meant to her.
I listen to her sing on a warbly 78, the song she made for my father, "Why this feeling? Why this glow? Why the thrill when you say hello?" I think about the day she made this record. I think about watching her through glass. I think about how she had to sing alone because she didn't have five extra dollars for a piano player. I think about my father's face as he listened to this love song.
And I don't cry anymore. I turn up the volume and smile.
Beverly Beckham can be reached at email@example.com.