Motherless on Mother’s Day

Funny how Mother’s Day, when you are at once a mom and motherless, takes on a whole new meaning.IMG_20160508_104230 (1)This isn’t the first Mother’s Day without my mom (in fact it’s the fifth) but her absence is still palpable. And yet she is still with me. In my expressions (“you attract more flies with honey”), in her recipes (Greek Easter bread–yum!) and her friends (who I still go to the casino with every year on her birthday). Though I’m sure my mom had a few secrets she kept with her to the very end, here’s what I know about my mom…

My mom was an adventurer–coming to Canada when she was just 17 to escape the poverty of post-civil war Greece to carve out a better life.

My mom was tough–she came out of a hard marriage to my dad with grace and never spoke ill of him despite his obvious shortcomings. She worked extra hard at her job as a waitress to ensure she could hang on to the house. Even though she only had a Grade 5 (?) education, all three of her kids managed to make it to university.

My mom understood experience over stuff–immigrant European culture in my day was pretty focused on acquiring things to make a pristine home for “company” to enjoy. When my aunt scolded my mom for taking all of us to Disney instead of buying new curtains, she said, “the kids are only young once, who cares about the curtains?” While she didn’t have a lot of money, there was always enough for the occasional sun holiday or trip to Niagara Falls…

My mom was proud–six months before she died (as her health was failing her), she stopped me mid phone conversation. “I’m so proud of you,” she said. “I don’t know why I don’t tell you this more often. You’re a great mom, you have great kids and have built a great life.”

“I know mom,” I answered. And though I didn’t know it at the time, it was those words that buoyed me through her passing, funeral and the five and a half long years without her.  I only hope I can instill the same confidence in my own kids. The feeling that, no matter where I am, I always have their back. I am always rooting for them…

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