By Larry Peterson
Mother's Day is here again and, I have to tell you, it is not my favorite day. Please do not misunderstand, I certainly have nothing against Moms. Heck, my wife was a mom, my sister is a mom, my daughter is a mom and I have nieces who are moms and so on. I know thousands of Moms and, for the most part, I love and respect them all. After all, Motherhood is the very linchpin of the family and the family is the linchpin of a society. (That is a topic for another time)
But, here is my dilemma. I have only the most obscure memories of my Mom. That is because she died 54 years ago. (She had leukemia and if you had leukemia 54 years ago you were "toast".) Anyway, for the first time in my life I am admitting that her death left me empty, very empty and that emptiness explodes inside me during the Mother's Day celebration.
We were kids when she died and I was the oldest of the five. For some reason, I have just fleeting memories of her. My sister remembers her and my brothers remember her, not much mind you, but a lot more than I do. They even remember little things, those special nuances that made her unique to each of them. Well, maybe not Johnny, he was only two years old, but the others for sure.
I have been told that I was traumatized by her death and involuntarily blocked her out of my mind. Could that be true? Could that still be going on inside me? Could I have been so stunned that my brain, in an attempt to protect me, covered up the memories with a thick, opaque veil? I do not know. What I do know is what is NOT there. "Mom memories" are missing from inside my head. That veil has never lifted in over 54 years.
I have some pictures of her and I also have her high school yearbook. I have no recordings of her voice or moving pictures of her or anything like that. It is strange to me but I try my best NOT to think of her. But the slightest thing triggers "mommy" thoughts in me, especially when I see a child (small or grown) being hugged by their mom. I always think how wonderful that must feel. I can't even imagine it. How pathetic is that. I guess I am just a senior citizen stuck at age 15 when it comes to my mother. (Damn--I cannot believe I am even writing this stuff.)
Okay now, all year long I manage to stuff this "mom" stuff deep inside myself. But then, right after Easter, the Mother's Day cards hit the stores. Avoidance of the big day becomes next to impossible. The attacks on my sub-conscious increase unmercifully as the weeks go by and then the onslaught ensues. The two weeks before Mother's Day are brutal. The print ads came out, television commercials pound the "Mom" message, cut flowers appear everywhere, the cakes are advertised and the restaurants offer deals that will only cost about a week's salary to sit and enjoy. It wears me out. I want it to be over.
Sunday morning at Mass the priest will probably give a homily on motherhood. He will probably use the Blessed Virgin Mary as a focal point. Then he will ask all of the women who are moms to please stand or raise their hands. Most women in the church will do so. He will bestow a blessing on them remembering all the deceased moms too. Everyone will applaud the moms, living and dead. I will applaud also and my best wishes and prayers will go out to all Moms everywhere. I just won't remember anything about my own mom. For me, the one day of the year we honor Moms is nothing but a paradox. Before the happy day even starts I cannot wait for it to end.
For those who might be able to relate to this, on Mother's Day I will be praying for all of you and your Moms. Maybe you can do the same for me. And, may God bless all moms, living and deceased.
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