Surviving Mother’s Day Since 2001

photo 1The year is littered with land mines. Some are obvious, some less so.

I never really know when one will hit: standing over a stew in the dead of winter and dropping in frozen peas – never fresh – and remembering the time I did put in fresh (really fresh completely raw) peas and she ate it anyways; rolling over in bed at 3 AM and turning the last page of the book I stayed up to finish just like she would have.

The obvious ones are just that: her birthday, Christmas, the anniversary of her death, and today.

For all that it’s been thirteen years this July since she died, there are moments where it still socks me in the gut. I moved recently and found an envelope of photos from one of my siblings’ wedding. It’s the kind of thing I’m sure were actually returned to her that year. All the happy pictures of the groom at various ages. I don’t know why it’s in one of the boxes I’ve been carting around the East Coast for the last decade, but I’m fairly certain it was just one of those things that got put in my pile of things when we emptied her house. I am the keeper of albums, the repository for memories no one else remembers, the dishes that have no recipes.

photo 5Maybe it’s a girl thing. Or an only daughter thing.

My mom was pretty awesome. She had three kids. She loved being a mom. She loved being a mom so much that she went back to school at 50 and became a registered nurse so that she could get jobs at hospitals where they needed lactation consultants. We were all Le Leche League babies, carted around to meetings throughout our childhood and far more knowledgeable about breasts and reproduction than any normal 10 year old. There were years and years of embarrassed “Mom don’t” and “Do you have to?”s as she approached strangers in department stores, grocery stores, restaurants, anywhere really to coo over their babies and somehow unintrusively ask if they were breastfeeding.

She boycotted Nestle in the 80s because they were donating formula to poor countries with poor refrigeration and not explaining to the mothers that their babies would get sick – and could die – if that formula wasn’t kept chilled. I didn’t have a Nestle Crunch Bar for years, and I still default to Hersheys habitually.

She had a hundred cats, way too many books, was depressed, bought things for grandchildren that wouldn’t arrive until she’d been dead for 5 years because she was so excited to be a grandma, was diabetic, had the worst taste in wine, and drank grasshoppers in the spring with my godmother.

photo 3She died unexpectedly. There one day on the other end of the phone and gone the next. There’s a lot about those weeks and months that followed that I still don’t remember.

If I could call her on the phone today and say “Happy Mother’s Day” I’d do it right this minute. She would probably still be in bed, pinned by 3 or 4 my feline siblings and a stack of books. I imagine her voice would be groggy, but she’d tell me she loved me too and to call her back later.

Surviving Mother’s Day since 2001. It’s a thing I do now. Go hug your mom for me.


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One Response to Surviving Mother’s Day Since 2001

  1. lrtallier3 says:

    You are an amazing woman, Rachael. Your mom would be proud. Hugs to you on this difficult day.

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