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Monday, May 10, 2010

New Mothers Day Tradition

My sister in Ontario has started a new Mothers Day tradition. We lost our mother to pancreatic cancer in April, 2009. A month later, our first Mothers Day without her, as you can imagine, was extremely grievous for us both.
But this year, my sister and three girlfriends who have also lost their mothers decided to hold a "Lunch With Mom" afternoon. My sister hosted the event and draped a table with our mother's market-place plates and dishes. Cut flowers, our mothers favourite, scented the air. They served their mother's pickles and recipes from their cookbooks. Adorned in their Mom's jewelry, they placed photos of their dearly departed on the side board before spending the next hours swapping favourite stories of life between mothers and daughters. There was laughter and tears. A sense of closeness through loss but at the same time, a joy for turning something so sad into something wonderful. Something to repeat again next year.
For me, I celebrated this year with my mother-in-law and her family. It's not the same, but it helps.
There will come a day when my sister's new tradition will be for me as well. Maybe the two of us will even spend it together?
Whatever you end up doing, have a Happy Mothers Day everyone.

Mother's Day Memories

I'm going to tell you the whole truth, as I know it, so that you can understand the power of my Mother's last gift to me.
While very preganant with her second child, my mother took her one-year-old son and left my father, moving from New Brunswick back to her parent's place in Ontario. I was born despite a raging snowstorm to an anxious, bewildered young woman whose husband had wronged her. She had no idea what she was going to do.
I would say that the wedge between us started from day one. I never felt connected or close to my mother and cannot remember a day I did not cause her grief. Not until I left home at age 17. That's when the letters between us began.
We continued writing and getting to know each other as women and mothers. She came west to visit, we went east to visit. The time spent together lengthened and the more we talked, the more I saw what an amazing person Dorothy Saunders really was. So different from me. Two unlike signs that grated each other's psyche and never had a chance of becoming peas in a pod. But we became true friends.
The self berating began at the first phone call. Pancreatic cancer. My Mother had four months to live. But Mom...I'm just getting to know you. I need more time. How could this happen? What had I been thinking?We were going to have a big party for your 75th birthday. That's only two more years.
Like my siblings, I raced to my mother's side, but the self whipping continued. I should have brought her out to visit us more. I should have phoned her everyday. I should have been a better daughter. I was a schmuck. I was a bottom feeder. This woman had given me life and I had given her nothing but back talk and attitude.
When my brother handed me the grocery bag filled with every card, every letter and every picture I had sent to my mother over the past 30 years, I was astounded.
"You saved all this?" She had. It was all there. And every letter told her how much I loved her. How thankful I was for her in my life. What she had given me was irrefutable proof that I had been a good daughter. That I had respeceted her and shown her my love.
So with this treasure in hand, I now face Mother's Day with a better grip on what matters most. That is celebrating the memory of my mother. Never minding how it started, but what it became and continued on to the end.
Because it was the most beautiful gift at such a crippling, sensitive time, I have started grocery bags of memories for my own children.