I have a friend who was single for many years after all of her friends and most of her acquaintances had married. This young lady HATED Valentine’s Day with a purple passion. She called it “Universal Single Awareness Day.” She said the whole world spent weeks reminding her of her lack of a significant other and then rubbed it in her face every February 14th. I’ve since lost touch with her so I don’t know how her quest for couplehood ever turned out, but she was extremely bitter and bitterness isn’t conducive to great relationship success so I have no trouble believing she now has 20+ cats in a small bungalow somewhere.
Still, I understand her a lot better these days . . . especially today. It’s my third Mother’s Day without Mama and so far time has done a crappy job of healing this wound. It doesn’t help that Mama LOVED Mother’s Day. I always managed to get her a card with my own money every year until I started truly earning my own money and then I took Mother’s Day to the next level. I’d call her at the crack of dawn, take her to Waffle House to eat breakfast, give her her card, go to church with her, and take her to supper later on.
Getting married changed nothing because Budge was the daughter Mama always wanted. She doted on Mama every Mother’s Day as much or more than even I did. She would always arrange a mani/pedi for them . . . until Mama’s lungs couldn’t handle the harsh solvent odor in the store. Mama went from one card to three: one from me, one from Budge, and one from “both of us.” She kept every single card.
I know she kept every single card because I found them neatly arranged in chronological order in one of her deepest dresser drawers three years ago when I had to go through her stuff. She kept everything from the scrawling childish folded notebook paper and crayon all the way through the best Hallmark had to offer. I read two before I realized I’d probably lose my mind if I tried to get through any more so I pulled out the drawer and unceremoniously dumped almost forty years of love writ large into a large trash bag.
Now, every year, Mother’s Day is everywhere starting as soon as Easter ends. Every store runs specials. Every florist vies for the most beautiful commercial so we’ll buy their arrangements. Churches have special recognition services. Everywhere everyone is reminding me I no longer have a mother.
It’s crushing on Budge as well though she does a much better job of dealing with it than I do. In many ways it’s worse on her. She lost her own mother at fifteen and then had to endure losing the woman she called the greatest mother-in-law God ever created, but Budge has a special ache because we are barren. I have to deal with not having Mama. She has to deal with not having Mama AND not having children to celebrate her on this special day. I try to fill the gap, but she sees it for the weak attempt it is. Having no mother and no children I think are two of the hardest struggles my precious Budge has to endure.
We don’t go to the cemetery and visit graves though. My stepdad and I keep some sort of flower on Mama’s grave, but it’s a far cry from the huge arrangements others have on their departed loved ones’ headstones. I used to ache and agonize over not being able to afford an arrangement like those. I thought it meant I was a sub-standard son, but then I realized a lot of those flowers were making up for flowers never given in life. One of Mama’s favorite songs was “Give Me the Roses While I Live.” That’s what I tried to do, give her love and flowers while she was here to see and enjoy them.
Oh, and please, please, please to all my well-meaning Christian friends, don’t tell me my Mama is in a better place. It will make me want to hit y0u with a large blunt object for a few reasons. One, I know perfectly well Mama is in Heaven (at least on the days I’m not in a black hole questioning if any afterlife exists); two, I don’t want her in Heaven; I want her HERE hugging me so I can hug her back, so I can smell her and touch her and tickle her until she lost her breath; and three, I’ll never have a mother again because when we all get to Heaven our earthly relationships won’t be in effect anymore and we’ll be together, but she won’t be my little Mommy and I won’t be her Little Man ever again.
So keep the well-meant platitudes and bible verses behind your teeth today; they are cold, cold comfort compared to my Mama’s arms. I know that sounds horrible and I apologize but instead of the passing time making things easier . . . well, it’s just made it that much harder. I’m fighting a war in my heart and mind against becoming bitter about Mama’s death and, unfortunately, I seem to be losing. I guess it would be easier if she hadn’t died so young, hadn’t sacrificed so much for me, and hadn’t generally been the greatest Mama the world ever knew. I still love her fiercely and painfully.
Hug your mothers if you still have them and know you have my full sympathy if you don’t. Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mamas out there. I hope you get the love and attention you deserve today and every day as well.
Love y’all, and keep those feet clean.