It has been almost two years since my mother passed away. It was sudden and unexpected, and many in my family are still trying to accept that she is gone. I think we are all still bewildered.
Last year was the first time since I was a teenager that I did not start planning a week or two beforehand what I was going to do for her on Mother's Day.
The whole Mother's Day present thing started when I was a kid in school. Our teachers would ensure that everyone's moms got a sticky kid-made craft on their special day. As a teenager I tried to come up with gifts that were more original and unique to her.
I made mushroom omelets for Mother's Day lunch and bowls of strawberries and ice cream for dessert. I bought her funky earrings which she loved. I made a purse for her.
When I was a mom myself, we shared our Mother's Day. We lived five minutes away from each other, and her five grandchildren would descend upon her with homemade gifts and cards.
My mother taught me how to be a mom. And I am appreciating, now that I have grandchildren of my own, that she taught me how to be a grandmother. My grandchildren presently are far across the country but we do what we can across the miles.
Her pattern is the one that guides me. Most of what I have learned about how to be nurturing I learned from her. She spent countless hours over my lifetime, listening, talking, laughing, embracing, reassuring. And that's the reason I can do it for others.
She'd mentioned once that she didn't hear her first name much anymore, it was usually Mrs. Harris or Mommy. She was my best friend, and I wanted her to hear her name, so I called her Ila instead of Mom for many years — until I became a mother myself.
When I was in school, sometimes I had lots of friends, other years there was really nobody. But I always had my mom. When no one else could be counted on, I knew my mother would always be there for me.
I'd storm home after a lousy day at high school and dump my textbooks on the hall table. I'd flounce down in a chair in the living room, where she would be more or less waiting for me. And I'd launch into what a crappy day I'd had.