My mom when she was single and shy.
It’s on days like this one that I most miss having my mother here. My mother has always been one of a kind. If she were still here, we would be spending the day with her. She would expect, no she would demand, that we be there. To say my mother was hard to please is a gross understatement. I would get her a card and box of candy. When she opened the card, the first thing she would do is flip it over and see how much it cost. She would compare how much I spent on mine to how much my brother spent on his. She would make sure I knew he paid more money for the card he gave her, implying that he loves her more. His card would also have ten to twenty scratch off lottery tickets in it, which she loved. Then she would chew us out for wasting so much money on cards and tell us that holidays didn’t mean anything to her. After this traditional ritual, she would read both cards aloud, to see which one had the most loving and tender words. My brother always wrote, “To the best mother in the whole world,” at the top of his card, and scored even more points with Mom. I always felt like Tommy Smothers when he would tell his brother, Dick, “Mom loves you best.”
She would move on to the box of chocolate and unwrap it. She knew full well that it was Russell Stovers because that is the only kind she would eat. After dinner, she would take off the cellophane and check out the lay out of the candies. She had her favorites and no one else was going to get those. The chocolate clusters of walnuts, pecans and cashews quickly disappeared. One went directly into her mouth and the others sat patiently by her chair, waiting for their turn to be savored and devoured. No complaints ever about the candy. My brother, on the other hand, always had to get some thoughtful gift that he knew my mother would love. It wasn’t anything big necessarily, but it had to be something practical that she wouldn’t complain about, like new nightgowns, dusters or housedresses.
I remember one year we made the mistake of getting her a bouquet of her favorite flowers, carnations. She took one look at them and told us we were throwing good money away because they were just going to die. We got no credit for remembering her favorite flower. That’s just the way it was and we accepted it. She was just happy having us all there and being the center of attention, no gifts were necessary.
Yesterday, my brother took me and my family out to eat at our favorite Italian restaurant. He felt it would be too crowded today and my younger daughter has to work. We all enjoyed a nice meal together, followed by coffee and dessert at home. Each of my daughter’s gave me a beautiful card. I didn’t turn them over to see how much each one spent or scold them for wasting money. I read the words, which were very touching and exactly what every mother hopes to hear from her children. Then I asked them if they picked these cards because it was how they really felt, or because they knew it was what I would want to hear. There was a little hesitation as they had to think a second. I had to laugh at myself, I am much more like my mother than I care to admit. The apples didn’t fall too far from the tree either. My younger daughter says her card is bigger. My older daughter’s card had a lot more words. I realize, when I am with my daughters, how much I love them and how much my mother loved me.
Happy Mother’s Day!