Tuesday, May 12, 2020
More Reflections on Mother's Day
There is a reason why I've lingered this long over Mother's Day. Almost every year, Mother's Day falls either on, or very close to, my own mother's birthday. Of course, now that she's gone, I can't very well pick up the phone and give her a call. But the day never goes by without my thinking of her. The older I get, the more I find myself doing things I remember her doing. Perhaps that's because my memory was far more clear of her everyday actions in the later stages of her life than, say, when I was a young child. I think that dynamic is true for almost all of us.
At any rate, it seems all it takes is something as innocuous as a sigh, and it gets me thinking: that's exactly how she would have sighed. Or said an offhand comment, "Oh, well..." The DNA in me finds the most inconvenient times to remind me that it is replicating her in my own life. I wonder how many of my other ancestors express themselves through those strands in my genetic makeup.
I've never been one for the usual Mother's Day schmaltz. If you knew my mother, you'd understand why. She never evoked feelings of sentimentality. The warm, fuzzy sense people get when they think "grandmother" was never at top of mind for her grandchildren. She was her own person, and that person was not your stereotypical mom...which meant her children never had a chance at becoming stereotypical, either.
Still, days with traditionally-tracked dates such as these—Mother's Day, birthdays—find me thinking of this unconventional woman whom culture would refer to as my mom. I wonder whether her mystique was the force driving my lifelong quest to know more about what made up the person I am—and thus, the person she once was, as well. I suspect she came from a long line of women who also were not the quintessential wives or mothers. Such is our matriline: a motivator to learn more about what I don't know of my own family's roots.
It seems trite to say so—not to mention, how uncharacteristically stereotypical of me—but happy birthday, mom. It's your birthday today, and I still remember. Not that she'd hear me now, but sometimes it helps to anchor our nonconformist self with something a bit more soothingly traditional.