I still remember the last Mother’s Day we spent with my mom. Ten years ago. I remember it vividly, and I also remember thinking at the time, “this may be the last one we have together.” But I quickly dismissed it, because I didn’t want to think about that possibility. I made sure we took several family pictures of us all, even a few including her beloved dog Angel. But then again, I’d done that every year. But something about that particular year told me I had to make sure I had enough pictures.
And by the next Mother’s Day, it had all changed. Drastically. She’d only been gone for six months, and of course I still hadn’t gotten used to it. All I could remember was how we’d all been together last Mother’s Day, just a short year ago.
That first year it seemed everywhere I went there were Mother’s Day cards, Mother’s Day gift suggestions, Mother’s Day flower arrangements, and ads for special Mother’s Day brunches. It was a stark reminder that things had forever changed. Even when you’re a mom yourself and you’re being honored on that special day by your children and grandchildren, when you have no mother to buy cards and gifts for any more, no one to take out for a special brunch, it’s still hard. Father’s Day was always difficult, too, since I’d lost my dad at a very young age, but somehow those Father’s Day ads, at least in my case, weren’t quite as painful as those Mother’s Day reminders. Because all I had left of her were my memories.
For the first time I had no mother to buy cards for, and no cards to receive from her. There were no gifts to buy for her, and no visit to the home I grew up in to be with her. Our daughter had no grandmother to celebrate with, and even though she and her dad did everything they could to make the day happy for me, something was definitely missing. Something, meaning, someone, who could never be replaced.
When I was packing up things at my mother’s house I’d found a small stack of cards she’d bought for our birthdays, and a few other occasions. I saved them all and used them for my husband’s and daughter’s birthdays, and even signed her name to them. After all, she’d bought those cards for them, and they deserved to have them! One of the cards was a Mother’s Day card which had obviously been meant for me. Until I pulled it out that morning to put with the cards Ben and Ashley had given me, I hadn’t realized she’d signed it! There was her familiar handwriting, “Love, Mom”. She must have bought it for last year’s Mother’s Day, gotten it ready, and then couldn’t remember where she’d put it. But to me, it was as if the Lord had given me a sweet reminder of my mother’s love on a day on which He knew I’d need it more than ever!
But as hard as that first Mother’s Day was, I had to remember to count my blessings. I was blessed to have had my mother around for 56 years. Far too many other daughters, and sons, are not that fortunate. They lose their mothers at an earlier age, and are forced to grow up without a mother’s love and guidance, with their mothers missing so many important events of their life. My mother lived to finally see me happily married after two failed marriages. She lived to meet her precious granddaughter, and spend time with her for 18 years (and I have no doubt she is still watching over her from heaven every now and then). And she would be so thrilled on this Mother’s Day to know that her beloved granddaughter is about to give birth to her own daughter, and naming her Rachel, after her grandmother.
I was blessed to have a mother who loved me unconditionally; who sacrificed having things for herself so she could provide for me. Who unselfishly gave me the best life she could, being both mother and father to me, in a time when very few children grew up with only one parent. She taught me strength, self-worth, the importance of family and faith, and most importantly, the meaning of love. Even when I made dumb mistakes in my life, and I sure made a lot of them, she still loved me unconditionally. She never gave up on me.
Memories of her are all around. I have so many pictures of her, which is surprising, because she always hated having her picture taken. I have pieces of furniture from her house that my father had made for her, and I cannot look at them without a stream of memories flooding back. I have her engagement and wedding rings that I wear on special occasions to make me feel closer to her. I have her favorite recipes, written in her own schoolteacher’s careful handwriting. I even still have her wedding dress, now yellowed and torn, but a reminder of the special love she and my father shared.
Selfishly, I didn’t want to lose her. Even at her age of 94, I wasn’t ready for her to go. But she was tired, and she was ready to go be with the Lord and be reunited with the husband she’d lost 47 years previously, and had never stopped loving. We are not promised to live forever. Nor should we want to. Our final and glorious reward is waiting for us in heaven, and we’ve earned it. I know my mother did, and I know she is enjoying every heavenly second of that reward, in ways I cannot even begin to imagine.
My mother would never want me to be sad because she’s gone. She would not want me to continue to grieve over her, or cry over her, or be sad on Mother’s Day because she’s not with us. She would want me to celebrate with my family, and this year look ahead to my soon-to-be new title of grandmother. She would want me to enjoy the day, remember the good times we all spent together, and look ahead to even more good times with our granddaughter.
No, Mother’s Day will never be quite the same without my mother. But this is the time to make new memories. My mother would be so excited, and so thrilled, to be here to see her great- granddaughter enter the world, but then again, I believe she will somehow see that moment.
There are times I can still hear her voice in my head, and in my heart, softly saying my name. And I can also hear her saying, “This is the legacy I left with you. Cherish every moment. Because now you will not only know a mother’s love…you will know a grandmother’s love. I am so excited for you. You have no idea of the joy you are about to experience.”
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I love you. And I always will. These flowers are for you!