Today is Mother’s Day, and yesterday my own mother turned 90. A milestone birthday, coupled with a national holiday to honour mothers; so much to celebrate and yet I don’t know how.
My mother is in Long Term Care. She has no idea where she is, or who she is, and she has no recollection of her family. The global pandemic has locked down her facility so we cannot visit. She has no phone so we can’t call but that’s alright because Alzheimer’s has robbed her of her speech so she wouldn’t be able to communicate with us anyway. I thought to send flowers or a balloon bouquet, something to let her know she is not forgotten, despite the circumstances, but while I was able to find a service that would deliver, they could not guarantee the receiving institution would accept it. It seems that for my mother, this major event in her life will pass unnoticed, so I will pay tribute in the only way I can… by recalling the many memories she fashioned because I still remember, even though she can’t.
I remember as a child crawling into your bed after being frightened by a nightmare. You’d hold me close until I was no longer afraid and at some point in the night return me to my own bed, only after I’d calmed.
I remember you always made my favourite comfort food, noodles and sour cream after I’d recovered from stomach flu (which I seemed to contract frequently)
I remember church every Sunday and coming home to the heavenly aroma of the pot roast you prepared before we left.
I remember the holidays, traditions you engraved in our hearts forever; traditions we still follow. You’d start preparation weeks in advance, baking and coordinating meals, shopping for gifts and staying up late to wrap and hide them, and you managed it all while working full time.
I remember how you loved music, often singing, and your radio was always on. I remember in particular your love of Sambas, memories of your native Brazil, and when we were young you and dad would pull out the old albums and dance after we’d gone to bed.
I remember how much you loved your trinkets. We hailed you “Queen of Clutter” because every table top, every counter, and every square inch of wall had something on it – you didn’t like vacant space.
I remember how you’d stay up late into the night sewing clothes for us, after working all day. We always had a new outfit for the holidays.
I remember when I suffered my first broken heart and you sat there and cried with me, not because I got dumped, but because you hated to see me hurting.
I remember how hard you worked to host my wedding and all the gatherings that led up to it. And again, you stayed up late at night for weeks, after working all day, to make my wedding dress.
I remember you took a week of vacation from your job to stay with me after the birth of each of my three children and I remember I cried when you left because I was so comforted to have you there.
I remember how much you loved marzipan and, your ultimate treat, marshmallows covered in toasted coconut, and I remember how hard you laughed when you watched The Beverley Hillbillies or All in the Family.
I remember how you rejoiced over the birth of each grandchild, welcoming every new arrival with a lovely handcrafted blanket, booties, and sweaters. And when the family expanded until we numbered into the twenties, you still hosted family dinners, even though you no longer had the stamina of youth. Somehow you always found the time and energy to bring us together and you took great pride in your family.
I wish I could take all the wonderful memories you gave me and package them into a beautiful present but I fear there isn’t a box big enough or a bow grand enough to do it justice, so I give you the only gift I can, my memories. They number into the hundreds I’m sure, and I treasure each and every one not just on this special day, but every day of my life. You may not remember me, but I promise to always remember you.
Happy 90th birthday Mama, and Happy Mothers Day.