On Mothers Day, BoomerCafé contributor Erin O’Brien of Redondo Beach, California, reflects upon her mom. She is now gone, but Erin says, while loss is universal, so is love. She calls these reflections, A Motherless Child’s Mothers Day.
As I looked around on Mothers Day, it seemed I was the only woman in church without a carnation from the usher.
It’s because I am not a mother. But I am a daughter.
My mom has been gone for 13 years, but her love still surrounds me, like a cloaking device, a suit of armor, a hug. It was a long time, though, before I got to this place.
In the dark hours after she was gone, I became a member of the club in which I never wanted to belong. A motherless child. Like a kid lost in a big department store who would never be found. Or stuck in the middle of a nightmare and unable to wake up.
Stopped at a red signal in the intersection, as cars whizzed by in their choreography, I wanted to shout. No one realized what had just happened to me.
The next morning, for a split second, it was a regular day. Then I remembered. She was gone.
At her house I discovered her white sweater on the back of a chair. I slipped it on.
The night after the funeral I had a dream that a black car pulled in to my driveway and the rear door opened and she got out and waved.
There were many mornings like that. And then, as my aunt promised, one morning it wouldn’t be the first thing I thought of.
But I didn’t want to forget anything. Not her voice or anything she taught me. Or her Magic.
My classmates said I had the prettiest mom. So did my teacher.
She could cut a McDonald’s hamburger in half with her car keys, after first sterilizing them in her hot coffee, of course. She could sew the First Communion and graduation dresses of my imagination. She could bake a Snoopy birthday cake that was prettier than the picture in the Betty Crocker Cookbook.
One Christmas my younger sister and I opened our Christmas stockings to find gifts from Mrs. Santa. I unwrapped a light pink velvet choker with a black and white cameo. My sister’s was light blue. They reminded me of my mom’s clip-on cameo earrings. Oddly, I never remember her wearing them again.
When she opened the big red heart box of Valentine’s Day chocolates from our dad, she offered the four of us kids the first pieces. She always took the burnt piece of toast. Or the broken whatever. She said it tasted just as good.
That was the Magic. But only part of it.
One day I noticed my hands and feet. They were hers.
Every time I see a Scottie dog, or a bag of nacho cheese Doritos, or hear someone order a “half caff” cappuccino (although she always ordered a second one, which made for a whole), I think of her.
Her white sweater hangs in my closet. But I don’t even need to put it on to feel her Magic. That cloaking device, that suit of armor, that hug that makes me feel worthy and strong, is her love. And a mother’s love lasts.