Reimagining Mother’s Day


This is the second Mother’s Day since Mom died; in some ways it feels strange she is not here, in other ways it doesn’t feel strange at all.  Maybe because the last 3 or 4 years of her life were dominated by dementia and she wasn’t quite the Mom I have known my whole life.  I am glad I was there for her during the time she was alone after Dad died, he was her whole world and she missed him so much.  She didn’t really say much about how she felt about things, her generation didn’t talk about feelings or were as open as we seem to be today.

When we were kids, we wanted to give her breakfast in bed – that was considered very much a luxury. However, Mom was not a breakfast-in-bed kind of person – I think Dad convinced her to let us do it for her.  Sometimes I think it was hard for her to accept receiving from others, she was such a giver to everyone.  She enjoyed having people come over and she would feed them.  She liked the people we invited over, Mom was very comfortable in her own home rather than out somewhere.

I remember when the three of us girls and Dad went to buy her a black nightgown – what that sales lady thought one can only imagine.  I remember it as  fun and a little out of the ordinary.  It never occurred to us to think in terms of what Mom would like best, Madison Ave always told people what to do or give on any occasion.

Mom was rather dismissive of Mother’s Day, because the idea of honoring mothers and showing how much they are loved on just one particular day was phony.  To her it was an all year round activity and more important for those small things every day.  In some ways I have agreed with her, make up for all the unsaid things, not visiting, etc. on one particular day.

I was living away from Seattle for over 34 years, I was able to come and visit my parents at least 3 times a year, sometimes more.  It was joy to be back in Seattle and be with my parents, we had a lot of fun together.  It was even better when Eddie was with me, the four of us would go on adventures.  Sometimes Eddie came on business trip and I couldn’t go with him, so he had my parents all to himself.  I have often thought he is the son they never had, plus Eddie thought of them as his own parents as well.  Eddie really enjoyed the times he and Dad went out by themselves – a guy’s day.  Dad showed him a lot of back roads around Seattle and Eddie still uses them.

They would come to visit us maybe once a year – I was able to take them around to places I knew and when I was in Atlanta, we drove up to Nashville to visit Candy.  When we lived in LA, we met friends of theirs from when dad was growing up and when they were first married.  Dad showed me places in Rolling Hills and Palos Verdes that were special to him and where he spent his teenage and young adult years.

When we were growing up, Mom was a stay at home mom, she was there when we came home from school – if she wasn’t, we knew she would be back shortly.  Sometimes she would be king cookies or downstairs ironing with the smell of fresh, clean clothes.  It wasn’t until high school, when I went home with a friend, that I realized how blessed I was to have Mom home when I came home.  I took it for granted.  My friend’s father had died in WWII and her mother had to work to support them.  When we went into her house, it felt cold – not just temperature, there was no one there to welcome her with warmth.  That really hit home and I began to value having a stay at home Mom.

As I think about it, home was a place that was safe where I was loved and wanted.   No matter what was going on outside, I would find a retreat at home.  Mom and Dad made it feel that way, Mom was the major component for it.  As I got older, I found more things we had in common, such as the books we liked.  When I was married, I learned to appreciate her more and understand things better.  If I had had children, I would certainly have understood being a mom a lot more.

So now I have to re-imagine Mother’s Day since Mom is not with us any more.  I know she is now much happier because she no longer has dementia and is with Dad.  Maybe it will be a celebration of her life and what she gave to me and my sisters.  I don’t quite see a picture in my mind yet, it may have to simmer on the back burner for a while.  When I think Mother’s Day, I see the lunch we had with her sister Jean and her son and daughter-in-law or the last dinner with Jean before Mom died.  They are happy pictures in my mind and I want it continue that way.

I did another post a while ago with pictures and I want to put those in this one.

Mom and her sister Jean

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Mom as a little toddler

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This is the house she grew up in on Main Street in Glastonbury, Conn

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This is out at the farm in Waterford, Conn near Long Island Sound

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I think this was a camp somewhere

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Mom was a Traveler’s Aid volunteer for more than 34 years – she thoroughly enjoyed doing it.

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Every summer, Mom’s father would rent  house on Clinton Beach in Conn., the family would rent houses near it and spend the summer there.

Dad made an album of pictures of Mom’s life and I used to go through it with her on my visit.  She had Macular Degeneration, so she wasn’t able to see them.  I would describe them to her and she knew exactly what I was describing.  She would tell me stories about growing up – I never knew when she was in a talkative mood.  It would happen all through my childhood, so when I lived in Conn., I went to Glastonbury and saw where she lived and met the relatives that were still alive.  On one of Mom and Dad’s visits to us, I took them there and we also went to Clinton beach to see the rental houses – surprising it looked a lot the same.

Those are the memories and pictures I have of Mom in my mind.

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2 Responses to “Reimagining Mother’s Day”

  1. Charlotte Trayer Says:

    Very nice post, Liz, and good thoughts expressed well. I think your mom would be pleased.

    As you know, my mom was a stay-at- home mom, too, until I went to college. At our next door neighbors’ house, both parents worked. What a difference, going over there to hang out with their daughter, and her coming over to our house!! I’m glad I was able to be a stay-at-home mom, at least for the most part, when Daniel was little.

    love, Char

    • Lee Kaplanian Says:

      Amazing how many parallels we share. I always felt part of your family when I was with them. Yes, we are both blessed not only to have had great parents, we also had them for such a long time.

      Lee

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