Mother’s Day is here again. For many of us, the day is bittersweet and brings up memories of loss as well as memories of happier days spent with beloved mothers, grandmothers and other women who have been like mothers to us. Even more poignant are the memories of children we held in our arms for only a short time, if at all.
I used to wonder why my own mother, gone to glory in 1994, used to seem less than thrilled with the day set aside to honor her. My siblings and I always asked her what she wanted as her gift, hoping we could please her with something that in some way reflected the regard we had for her. Her reply seldom varied, as she quoted a person from her past: “All I want for Mother’s Day is a kind word.”
We did give her a kind word, elaborate cards, dinner, gifts — my traditional gift partially included taking her to pick out bedding plants and then fixing up the flower beds beneath the kitchen windows — but somehow Mama always seemed a little saddened by the day. Not that she didn’t appreciate all our efforts; she did. But something was missing from her eyes as she smiled and thanked us.
I think what was missing was her mother, who died long before I came along. Now that I am following the path my mother trod, I understand. Somehow the joy of the day dims when one’s own mother is no longer there to share that time together.
Mother’s Day reminds me of another anniversary, as well. On May 17, 1988, my third child left this world before he ever got a chance to be born. I say “he.” Somehow, I always thought the child was a boy although he — or she — was much too small to make that determination.
I had suspected I was with child and the drug store test confirmed it. What it did not confirm, and what I did not know until I visited the doctor with severe abdominal pain, was that the uterus was empty. The child was growing instead in a Fallopian tube that had burst about six to eight weeks into the pregnancy.
Here’s what I’ve learned through the years: Loss will always be with you. But there will come a day when you can run a finger over the scar and it won’t pierce you to the quick as it did for so long. Yes, there is a sadness, a yearning. You don’t forget the mothers who have passed away and you don’t forget the children who left entirely too soon. They are always a part of you, but you are here, and you have the power to encourage yourself and others who experience the same type of loss.
Give yourself a kind word today. Look in that mirror and affirm to yourself just how special you are and how blessed you are. Give a kind word to those who hurt; don’t we all hurt in one way or another? Hug your kids and grandkids. Hug your mothers if you still have them with you. Hug the women who love you as a mother loves you. In my life, two of these women are my sisters, Mary and Jackie.
Mama was right. “All I want for Mother’s Day is a kind word.” Be generous with those kind words today. You don’t know how much they will mean to the recipients.
Happy Mother’s Day.