Next year I will be the same age as my mother when she died. I don’t attach any great significance to that other than it occurred to me in response to someone else’s similar thought. It hadn’t occurred to me because I don’t often think of my Mom. As a rule, I don’t generally think about dead people at all. It’s not that I don’t miss her or that I didn’t love her, but she is gone; like Monty Python’s dead parrot. She is deceased.
I Don’t Often Think of Mother’s Day
I don’t often think of Mother’s Day either, though as I get older I take part for the sake of others. I pay homage to my own Mom and my two step mothers, who are also gone. I smile inwardly at the folks who get all excited about mothers and Mother’s Day, so I post pictures that make them happy enough to hit the like button and share the magic. Mother’s Day is much like any other “holiday” for me and holidays are like dead people. I never celebrated any growing up so they are generally dead or perhaps in my case stillborn.
Even though we didn’t celebrate birthdays and Christmas like other people I was still enough of a standard-issue kid to grab a handful of the nearest flowering weed, break out the crayons for a card made from scrap paper, and beam while handing them to Mom…if she wasn’t insane at the time.
Giving and receiving love with Mom didn’t involve any Hallmark moments. Sensing love with her was a catch as catch can affair. You took it from the implied, the very subtle. She would show her love by silently baking cookies and then shyly leaving them on the table with a note saying, “I love you”, before locking herself in her room to chat with her demons. I would respond with a, “Thanks Mom!” at the locked door, but she never replied. That was okay though, the cookies were enough. They were “baked with love” as they say.
In her lucid moments she might hear me playing my drums and leap into the hallway to do a madcap version of the twist to Ina Gadda Da Vita, wearing a goofy grin of pure joy on her face. If she didn’t retreat immediately I’d envelop her in a bear hug and lift all 5′ 3″ of her off the ground as she squirmed and giggled, “Stop it!”
“I love you, Mom!”
“I know,” she’d say.
Mom’s Tiny Scrap of Reality
And we both did know. No matter how sick she was or how desperate with the situation I was, there was a bond that tethered us together, each in our own world. Even though she was quite mad, she was almost never violent. On the rare occasions when she was agitated, she never showed it to me. She might lock me out of the house in a sudden fit of paranoia, but she always grinned lovingly at me when I pounded on the door to be let in. She always reserved that tiny scrap of reality for me and that was the greatest gift she could give.
And I have always felt that was more than enough from a woman whose days were filled with screaming voices and weird shapes crawling on her legs. It’s a tough enough job being a Mom without all that. It was incredibly heroic to do while carrying those beasties in her handbag.
I know you can’t hear it, but thanks Mom. I love you and I know you loved me as much as any mother can.