Memories of Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is a day when I feel more like a daughter than a mother.
This marks the first Mother’s Day without my own mother. Despite her not knowing me for more Mother’s Days than I care to count, it feels strange to know that remembering her this year will take on a new feel; a new reality since her death this past October.
I like to remember all that my mother was rather than what she wasn’t; what Alzheimer’s stole from her a bit at time at first and then seemed to gallop off with the rest of her.
We will celebrate my mother’s life on May 17 at Knox United Church in Fort Frances. We will remember her with gratitude and laughter, with music and red shoes.
Mother’s Day gets me to thinking; has me assessing my daughterly qualities and my motherly report card. If I had my life to live over again, which none of us really want, I sometimes wonder what I would change.
Perhaps I would have remembered more the tiny details of my mother when I had the chance to tell her about the things that puzzled me about life and ask her about what puzzled her.
Perhaps I would pay closer attention to the different sounds of her voice before it, too, had gone.
If I had to do it over again, I don’t think I would wander so far from home. I would have stayed close for Sunday dinners with my mom, with her roast chicken and sloppy joes.
I would have helped her fold the laundry, the sheets especially. She was a great laundry folder, making the T-shirt edges perfectly even and smooth, the sleeves folded just right, and the whole image of her folding laundry quiets the longing in my heart.
I would have brushed her hair when I popped in for coffee, smoothed her hair back while her eyes closed and her shoulders dropped; all her day’s worries drifting off into the air.
I would have taken her for drives, and we would have sung “You Are My Sunshine” and “Under the Spreading Chestnut Tree.” We would have napped on her bed and I would chop-chop-chop her extended arm and it would fall on me as she called out “Timber.”
I would have made all her favourite things for Mother’s Day—most certainly Ishgy-Gisghy cake.
Life is full of would haves and should haves, but I’ll tuck them away. And in my mind, I will bring my mother breakfast with toast and not-too-runny eggs and a small glass of freshly-squeezed orange juice and a cloth napkin, and she’ll throw her hands over her head and laugh and pretend that she really does want breakfast in bed when actually no one really wants breakfast in bed.
While she has her breakfast, I will run little match-box cars up and down her legs and arms, and she will tell me how she plans to spend HER day; the day that celebrates the fact that she took a chance and brought my siblings and me into this world.
Took a chance to be a mother without really knowing if she could do it, and how she genetically shared that I-dare-you, shared that I’ll-take-a-chance and try it, and give it my very best until I can’t anymore.
When I’ve done that, I will sit and remember Mother’s Days when little hands were making me toast with brown sugar and cinnamon, and little voices begged me to wait for the surprise.
And I’ll wonder how it is that those Mother’s Day Sunday mornings came to an end so fast; how it is that my four precious daughters had the audacity to grow up and leave me longing for things to be just as they were when they were little—when I could save them merely by picking them up and tucking them inside my arms, right next to my heart.
Mothers are hard-wired to protect their children; it is fundamentally who we are.
Happy Mother’s Day.
wendistewart@live.ca

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