Today being Mother’s Day calls for a special post. Barclay and I have been experimenting on co-writing certain posts. We feel jointly our own individual memories and perspectives make for one hell of a great read!! (all modesty aside)
Mother’s Day, to me has always been about celebrating my own mother, not my motherhood. It took me many years and sadly the death of my own mother to understand that this is my day too. Funnily enough, as my good friend Christine would say, my own mother, Muriel (of previous blog fame!) thought these holidays were silly. She always said, “the greeting card industry invented them” and “every day should be about celebrating your mother.”
I always remembered to say I love you and to be mindful of how special a person Muriel was (quirky, a bit odd, a character for sure, but the best mother I could have wished for, if I had ordered her up) So this day, May 13th, 2018, I recall the very first Mother’s Day without mine. (Muriel passed away Feb 21, 1990.)
I changed my mind and decided not to be teary and remember that first Mother’s Day, but rather to reflect on the unique character that Muriel was. She was trapped in the 1950’s, but secretly had a yearning to break out.. She didn’t care for other women that much, small talk, swapping recipes, and ladies lunches. My mother preferred to take her Tuesday off from motherdom and wifedom (though she didn’t work), ride the #4 bus downtown, shop at Lord & Taylor, and eat lunch at the Birdcage restaurant, probably collecting her thoughts and dreams. She then would prepare my father’s shrimp cocktail for when he came home serving him as he sat throne like waiting for his food.
She was a great listener and old ladies (probably a few years older than me now!!) loved telling her their problems. She was compassionate, thoughtful, and kind hearted. She wore a girdle, though she was thin all her life, never accentuated her curvature of the spine (born with it) by wearing form fitting clothes, and sat in the window of the bathroom where the natural light was best to apply Max Factor pancake makeup, false eyelashes in the 60’s and thereafter, as well as pressing it all onto her skin with ice wrapped in a tissue. Oh, the things we do for beauty! She used Noxema every night to wash her face, applied cold cream, and wrapped her bouffant hairdo in toilet paper to keep it in place until next week’s beauty parlor appointment.
She loved me dearly, though not overly affectionate (my father made up for that) and I always knew I could go to her for whatever upset me. I always wanted my relationship with my daughters to be what I had with my mother and I have been blessed to have that. So this Mother’s Day, 2018, I think of you mommy, but also know it is my day too.
Sometimes I am asked how I came to live in the midwest. The answer I give is that I attended college in suburban Chicago and then “settled” here (as if I am Laura Ingalls from Little House on the Prairie). The real answer is I was trying to get as far away from my mother as possible.
This was a positive.
States between us — I now have an entire file drawer filled with birthday cards – she was fond of Snoopy – and notes that begin with “Dearest Barcs” or better yet, “Barcsy” and end with hand drawn hearts, the emojis of yesteryear. I also have letters written in careful cursive on yellow legal paper – all ending with the word, love.
Love wasn’t a word Peggy used with wild abandon. But she did love fiercely without sentimentality. A friend of hers once told Charlie (my brother) and me how proud she was of us – to the point of boasting. For some reason she could only direct such thoughts to her pen or to Florida friends.
At the end we discovered that Peggy had her own file drawer. In it we found clippings from college tennis, letters from camp, articles written, birthday cards – featuring the Peanuts gang of course. Evidence of pride. Of love.
When Mom passed away one October evening in 2010 we held her hands standing around the hospice bed – something she would have recoiled at. She would also have been aghast at not wearing lipstick. Yet she looked radiant as she stepped onto gold pavement.
Surrounded by Love.
“To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power. Or the climbing, falling colors of a rainbow.” – Maya Angelou
No takeaways today, just enjoy the day. If you are a mother rejoice in being lucky enough to have children. If you want to have them, may your prayers be answered to have them. If you are fortunate enough to still have a mother to call, go ahead and pick up the phone. No text, no email, just let her hear your voice.
Enjoy the ride
xox Barclay and Joy