I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Thinking of our mothers

Pink petals in sun and shadow

All of our ornamental cherry trees are losing their petals, and as I was beginning my Saturday walk with my friends yesterday, I couldn't help but stop and admire the look of all those pretty pink petals making the sidewalk look like a confection. And now it's Mother's Day, with my desire to honor all our moms as we mark the second Sunday in May as the one day when we remember who bore us, took care of us when we couldn't do it ourselves, and who guided us (some were better at it than others) into adulthood. 

I was one of the lucky ones whose mother lived long enough to see all her children grow from tiny helpless infants into actual people, and every one of the six of us has become a productive member of society. Still, she only lived until the age of 69, and the loss of our mother was hard to bear for many years. Since it was long ago now, 1993, memories of her are all I have left, and they are probably nothing like what she was actually like: time has a way of softening out all the hard spots and leaving me only remembering smiles and positive memories. The unvarnished truth isn't relevant here any more. Just the fond recollection of her touch on my forehead when I had a fever, her droll sense of humor and boisterous laugh, the wonderful meals she created (no one made turkey hash like hers), and much, much more. This is what I remember.

My mother’s love has always been a sustaining force for our family, and one of my greatest joys is seeing her integrity, her compassion, her intelligence reflected in my daughters. —Michelle Obama

I can see many aspects of my mother reflected in my siblings, and sometimes when visiting them these days, I see glimpses in gestures and ways of being in the world that come directly from Mama. Imagining the procession of our ancestors that bring us to this moment, and all the mothers who existed earlier, each one living a life that included childbirth and stretching back into the mists of time. I wonder what Mama would think of the world today and wonder what it would be like to sit down at the kitchen table and talk over coffee. What would she say to me?

For one thing, I realize I am now a decade older than she was when she died, and although I don't feel so old, I know that I am. Every day is a gift, a blessing to be shared with family and friends. Listening to the birds sing, enjoying the beautiful Pacific Northwest springtime, and snuggling down in my bed with the laptop and creating a Mother's Day post. Being in the moment.

Mama was industrious and never stopped taking care of the things that fell under her purview. She planted and watered flowers for as long as I can remember, she cooked and cleaned as her children grew up, and she read books. Oh, did she read! I remember her going to the library and bringing back literally boxes of books, and she read them all. She was never without at least one or two by her side. I read, too, but I am an amateur when compared with her. I'm glad she never had to deal with macular degeneration and gradually lose her ability to read. It's a tough one: I can only read for a short time before my eyes begin to complain. My Kindle is an essential part of my life these days, because I can read it much easier and longer than hard copy. You can see that reading has been an essential part of my life, coming directly from the influence of my mother. I can only give thanks for all the ways she helped me grow into the person I am today.

Mothering comes naturally to most women, I suppose, and I am no exception. Although my mothering days are long behind me, I can still feel the urge to take care of little ones when they are around me. For years I looked forward to playing with little Leo, a young boy who came to the coffee shop, and we would always connect when we were both there. He is now a teenager and yesterday his father sat down for coffee with me. He said that Leo would never come in these days, as he sees it as part of his childhood. He wants to be grown up. But I know without a doubt that I will be one of those memories he will carry with him as he matures and grows into adulthood. How quickly he changed from a toddler into a teenager!

Sitting here in the dark, with my dear life partner sleeping quietly next to me, I am looking for inspiration, looking to see where my mental processes want to go next. Of course I'm looking for ways to eulogize mothers and motherhood on this special day, but nothing comes immediately to mind. I can remember times when Mama and Daddy returned home after a day on the golf course, and Mama's outfits were something to behold: she usually wore bright, loud clothes. She also had a nose guard to protect it from the sun, which complemented her outfit perfectly. The memory brings a smile to my face. My mother was unique, all right, as all our mothers are. But she was exceptional. My mama is a part of me and will never stop being present in my life, no matter how many years separate us.

Mama and me in the Colorado Rockies

I have no idea how old this picture is, but it is a time when Mama was visiting me in Boulder, and we took a quick trip up into the mountains. I remember she couldn't walk very far because of the altitude, but she wanted to see the mountains. I believe this is Brainard Lake, and she was very happy to sit on a rock and take in the scenery. I remember her being surprised that there were still patches of snow in shady spots. Gosh, this picture brings back memories I had forgotten until I looked at it. Mama, I still miss you, but I am very grateful for all those years we did have together. I can relate to Michelle Obama's line about how her mother's love was always a sustaining force in the family. Mothers everywhere are celebrated today and every day, if we just allow ourselves to settle back into memory. Or if your mother is still around, then hopefully you will have a chance to be with her. 

With that fervent wish, I will wrap up this Mother's Day post and get ready for the rest of my day. John will pick me up as usual and take me off to breakfast in Fairhaven, and then I'll come home and enjoy some sweet moments with my guy. And of course I'll take some time to walk around outdoors and enjoy the sunshine, clouds, and sprinkles of rain. Until we meet again next week, I wish you all good things, dear friends.


ApacheDug said...

I knew you were going to write something exceptional today DJan, and you did not disappoint. This was such a lovely tribute to your mom, and to my mom as well as I sat here nodding my head while reading and very much relating to things you said. I enjoyed that photo of you and your lovely mom, and I know this is your day too as you raised two sons. Happy Mother's day to a dear and thoughtful one. 🙂

Anvilcloud said...

You remembered and eulogized very well IMO. Happy Mother’s Day.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Happy Mother's Day! I hope you have a great day doing what you want! :)

Linda Reeder said...

Reading your post prompts me to reflect on my mother as well. In her almost 90 years she bore a lot of heartache and physical pain and the strain of hard work, but she endured and never complained. After she sent her seven children off into the world she continued to mother others, some young and some old. She was ever the servant of others. She is remembered with great love by the big, multigenerational family she gave to the to the world.
Today I hope your reminiscences bring you happiness.
Happy Mother's Day.

Arkansas Patti said...

Loved the pictrue of your two and enjoyed the rememberances that you had of your Mom. Yes, they do show up in our expressions and actions. I just spent time with my brother and like you saw my Mom in him as I am sure he saw her in me also.
I envy that you got to become an adult with her, I missed that with mine as she passed when I was a young teen. But they never really leave us do they? Mine would have adored blogging as she was a want to be writer and a social person. Wish she had experienced what a wonderful medium it is.
Enjoy the rest of this day in the warmth of your Mom's love. I plan to.

Barbara Rogers said...

A great post about your mother, and I enjoyed seeing the photo of the two of you at Brainerd Lake...I think my son also took me to a lake of similar name when I first visited him.

Barbara Rogers said...

Brainard Lake, spelled wrong...and I also had to adjust to the altitude of the Rockies!

Elephant's Child said...

Just beautiful. Happy Mother's Day dear friend. And every other day too.

Rita said...

Love the picture of you and your mom!
Hope you have a wonderful day. :)

Gigi said...

Happy Mothers Day, DJan. And thank you for giving me a moment to reflect on my own mother. God knows, she wasn't perfect but I know that she loved us and did the best she could with the cards she was dealt - it's all we can do really.

Marie Smith said...

I was reminded today how fortunate I was to have a loving mother. Not everyone did or does and a day like today can be hard for them. A loving mother is a wonderful gift!

Galen Pearl said...

I love your photo of the pink petals -- I call it pink snow. Thanks for a lovely reflection of your thoughts on Mother's Day.

Red said...

Each mother is an individual and the way she deals with each child is unique. Each child is treated differently on their way to maturity and success. So nice post today on mothers. My mother has been gone for 51 years and left us far too early at age 59.

Glenda Beall said...

A lovely tribute to your mother. Like you, I had a loving and kind, caring mother. She put her children ahead of everything else. She was the glue that held our large family together. I miss her every day and will always miss her. She would have enjoyed my sister's 50th-anniversary party held recently because Mother loved people and people loved her. In my mind she was the perfect mother. I wanted to be like her, but I didn't have any children. However, I always get sweet cards from my nieces I helped to raise. Glad you are having a good day and I love that photo of the petals in the street.

Rian said...

Love this post, DJan. And love hearing about your mom. I was lucky too... as my mom took great care of us. Our house was always immaculate, the meals were always ready at 5:30 when daddy came home from work, and mom always looked well-dressed and well groomed (she was one of those people who was up dressed, and had her make-up and jewelry on before we saw her in the morning - unfortunately I'm not like that) But we all got along well. Mom lived with us the last 12 years of her life (and survived the loss of both my siblings and my dad to Cancer). She was diagnosed with Alzheimer's the last 2 years of her life (died at 94). This was difficult. But I still miss her. We didn't think alike, but she was a good mom.

William Kendall said...

My mother died in May several years ago. This time of year and Mother's Day always brings that back to the surface.