Sunday, May 08, 2016

Snapshots: Mothers Day

Is it, Mothers Day, or Mother's Day?

(1) Gold-Cross

Anyone who has ever been to therapy, or who is psychologically astute, understands that emotional states can be triggered by holidays, by birthdays, and anniversaries.

It is because we're encouraged to remember these days, and the very mention of the date on the calendar, signals brain retrieval, all that is associated with that date, whatever is within reach. So on your brother's birthday, if you forgot it before, you'll remember it when you write a check with that date. The anniversary of your first marriage will give you pause.
Heinrich Bavarian Gold-Cross crystal, right, 

And marketing is ubiquitous. The approach of Mother's Day is a harbinger to remember Mom. Buy her something. What if it were just a day of remembrance, the living and those who are gone, no buying anyone anything, or even, having to remember to give cards?

Things from boxes, put them in the dishwasher right away
I don’t remember last year, or the year before, but Mother’s Day crept up on me last week, and it hasn’t really let go. This will be the third since mine passed away, and everything reminds me of her, as if it were the first year. 

In the first year following her death, no matter what anyone said, no matter what I saw on TV, or what was in the news, or what anyone told me at work or anywhere else, it reminded me of her. 

This year, in April, with a little time off, I ventured into the basement and opened boxes, wondered where I should put those things inside, who should get what, who would appreciate the possessions she chose to buy, that she held in her hands. Who would use them? 

It didn't even occur to me, in those moments, that in a few weeks television ads would glut our personal space with reminders that we should buy presents, or give presents to other moms, maybe a daughter-in-law, an aunt, a daughter, a friend. It was as much as I could do, open boxes, and all of it, unconscious.

She had Bavarian gold-cross china, with a simple black and gold-cross rim pattern, elegant, not ungapatched (sounds like oohn, gah, patcht, Yiddish, means busy, cluttered, overly ornate, not her). 

A woman grows up, as she would say, poor as a church mouse, works with her husband in their family retail china, silverware, and crystal business, surrounded with beautiful things every day on the job. She can get anything she wants wholesale or at cost, and chooses not Wedgewood, not Royal Doulton, not Lenox or Oxford, but a simple, elegant German pattern. 

In the hospital she mentions it, Who will get my china when I die, my good china, the gold-cross? A nurse hears her and says, If no one else wants it, I'll take it.  

Yeah, right.

(2) Being Angry on Mother's Day

I hosted a little family luncheon on Saturday, and my grandchildren seemed more interested in the adult chatter than usual. When you host you are a few degrees of separation apart from the conversation, so you watch more than listen, and it surprised me, as it always does, how tall my mother's great-grandsons had grown. My father would have been proud of their looks, and certainly their height, but my mother would have loved their solicitousness, the way they tend to hover around older people, not to help, truth be told, but to see what we have to offer.  It isn't only the cookies in the cookie jar my grandsons are into, but advice on things, mostly hobbies. I have an indoor garden. FD likes to fish. I have a marine aquarium. Kids are fascinated about such things.

They would have loved their great-grandmother, my mom, I tell them, both of my parents. Their memories of them have surely faded by now, mostly visits in a stroller to the senior residence, finding processed chocolate pudding in the refrigerator, making a mess, as pre-kindergarteners will do, Mom telling me, It's fine, don't worry about it, I'll clean up later. This, my obsessive compulsive mother.

Thinking about their loss, and hers, my eyes narrow with anger that she isn't with us, isn't at the table.

Returning to the group from the kitchen, I sit down, remark, thinking no one hears me, I wish there were no Mother's Day. I wish nobody had invented it.

Surprise, almost everyone does hear it.

And they ask, a little shocked, Why?

And I say, It just makes me so angry that she missed all of this, missed your successes and frustrations (she would have listened), missed seeing two of of her grandchildren marry beautiful people, missed watching the great-grandchildren grow out of babydom

Then my daughter says, If I ever have a girl, I'll name her ____. (My mother's name).

And a son: Oh, man. I miss her, too.

Then somehow we launch into the topic of meat, and how she had a way with food, never over or under-cooking it, and I tell them that when she and my father would come home from work late, 6-6:30, I was the one who had cooked for them, and I couldn't have been older than fourteen, which sounded right to me, until I looked at my almost fourteen year-old grandson and pictured him manning the broiler.

And the anger passed, for awhile.

But you know what it's like.

Happy Mother's Day, friends.


Waterford-crystal: perhaps not so simple 


Anonymous said...

thank you for allowing me (us) a little peek into your life and dinner conversations. Especially appreciate hearing about the anger (and why) Both my mom and dad are still in the land of the living, but I can definitely see the slow gradual declines. Mom gave me some winter onions several years ago..(also called walking or Egyptian onions) I already know after she is gone, they will be one of the simple links to the past that connects her and I. She likes to putter in the garden (and so do I) DM

therapydoc said...

Thanks DM. I'd share more but so far the anonymity serves me well. Still, I feel like I know so many of you.

Clairesmum said...

Mothers Day and Fathers Day are especially challenging for survivors of abusive parents. There is no Hallmark card for the mother who permitted her husband to molest her daughter, who observed the act, and turned silently away. My father and father in law have died, my mother in law and my mother are still living. And my own son is in his early 30s. All I can do is try not to pass all of the damage on to the next generation, and to learn to find and accept 'mothering' from healthy women whose lives intersect with mine.
Thanks for being one of those wise women, and for sharing the space so I can "say" my truth.

Better Things-- Seeing Ghosts