Today is Mother’s Day. I am with a daughter and her family, embraced in familiar routines, cocooned by my own motherhood with its myriad and layered roles, its history, even its unknowns.
There was a time when Mother’s Day caused me heartache, when I could not free myself of the grief of losing my own mother to tragedy eight days before I turned thirteen. For many years I did not go to church on Mother’s Day for fear of publicly sobbing, uncontrollable grief rising like a geyser to flood everyone around me and spoil the occasion. It was a selfish reaction, I believe, for my children loved me and showered me with understanding affection while I quietly went to the garden to trim roses and plant petunias.
Indeed, the cure for my inability to live comfortably with loss was the continued growth of my children’s adult lives, their voluminous selves, their developing families, the absolute repetition of nurturing love, its intensity, its familiarity. A simple blessing unfolding over and over.
I once feared I would die young and never see this unfolding. But that did not happen. I have lived and am still vibrant at 75 years old. I can attend college graduations and may even live to feel a great grand-child in my arms. This gift of life overwhelms me at times, welling up in my heart and radiating out in silly ways, dancing while cooking, humming while weeding, sometimes causing me to want to reach out and hug people unawares. How can I tell a friend this? That suddenly I want to embrace her and tell her how happy I’ve become!
Frankly, my experience is both ordinary and extraordinary. It will certainly resonate with others. What if we mothers and grandmothers would suddenly be thrown together in a great song fest of gratitude, dancing and embracing each other and our loved ones. Oh what a celebration that would be!