Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother'sBirthday Day, Mom

Mom's birthday is May 9th, so it often fell on Mother's Day. As little girls, my late sister, Renee, and I thought we were so lucky to have a Mom who was obviously cool enough to have two reasons for celebration fall on one day. The two of us even came up with our own special name for the day--Happy Mother'sBirthday Day. Yes, I know that we could have taken the extra 'day' out of there, but we were little girls. Bigger is always better!

Being the young dreamers that we were, we couldn't understand why there wasn't a card in the stores with the same title. To remedy that, we would often design our own card and surprise her with it. Even on the years that Mother's Day and her birthday fell on separate days, we tricked her into celebrating them both on the one day. For us, our handmade cards had made it a tradition!

Maybe for that reason, even after Renee was born and I became a Mommy myself, Mother's Day was never really about me. Now, there's no need to get your panties all in a twist about that. Although we are all about the party in our little family, Renee has learned by example that it is more important to show our love and appreciation to each other every single day of the year. We don't need no stinkin' Hallmark executive to tell us that we should shell out 5 dollars for a card to prove our love. The creative (and often funny) Mother's Day cards that Renee and Mark have made for me over the years are some of my greatest treasures. And, anyone who knows me knows that I would rather use that 5 dollars to buy Renee and Mark a Mickey bar at Disney World!

Of course, since I was the one doing the spoiling, it was okay for me to surprise Mom with all kinds of magical things on Mother'sBirthday Day. She would give me the look and make comments under her breath that I should be getting spoiled as well, but I always reminded her that I had my own special day--Happy New Year'sBirthday Day!

Anyway, for as many years as I can remember, Mother'sBirthday Day was always a day to honor the birth and motherly love of our Mom, who we both so deeply adored. Before I was even old enough to imagine Mark in our lives, the two of us would sneak into the tiny kitchen of the apartment we grew up in to try to find something yummy to make for our Mommy. Just imagine two little girls in ponytails, scraping up any spare change they could find, walking to the tiny, family grocery store up the street, and buying a box of Jiffy brownie mix. If my memory serves me right, we could buy one box for 25 cents and only had to mix in water, which was free! No matter how dried out those brownies were, Mom always let us believe they were the most delicious thing she had ever tasted! As we grew older and I became more of an accomplished baker, I loved surprising her with one of her favorites, carrot cake. I can still see the smile on Mom's face as she tiptoed into the kitchen to lick the cream cheese icing off the beater on our mixer. She would giggle and run around the corner once she knew she had been snagged! Busted!

After Mark and I were married and bought our first home, Mother'sBirthday Day was the perfect excuse for us to shower Mom with plants along with all those tasty treats. Since this was her first home, too, she couldn't wait to take the bare canvas of our new yard and paint her own floral masterpiece. One year, Renee, Mark, and I bought her a Kousa dogwood, a tree she had been coveting for as long as we could remember. Another year, we chipped in and surprised her with supplies to build a pond; the look on her face was priceless! We even got my Dad into it; he would buy her a tea rose every year, no matter what. Even though they had split up when I was 5, I thought that was just the sweetest thing for him to do. I always joked that if she ever doubted how much she was loved, all she needed to do was to take a peek out the window!

Mother'sBirthday Day somehow became different after the death of my sister, our many moves, and Mom's battle with freaky blood disorders, lymphoma, and leukemia. It never seemed quite the same as what it was when life was more simple. The one thing that did remain consistent, though, was the celebration of this strong, giving, loving woman who inspired us all to be better people. Last year, when this photo was taken, we not only celebrated Mother'sBirthday Day, but the news that her cancer was behaving itself and much joy over the growth of new hair on her beautiful head.

Little did we know that only a year later, we would be sitting here without her. As I look at that photo with tears running down my face (darn it! I was trying to be strong!), I am taken back to the very moment when Mark yelled to the three of us in his best photographer's voice, "Say...Grammy Rocks!"

I can hear Mark laughing at us as we set up our 'Wilson pose'.

I can smell the sweetness of those roses, and the scent of the pine trees which surrounded us.

I can feel not only the softness of Mom's baby fine hair on my cheek, but also, my arms around the two girls who always brought such love to my life, and who made me the woman I am today.

This is one of those moments when I wish I could travel back in time and do it all over again. I wish I would have had Mark take 10 photos instead of one. I wish I would have set the timer on the camera so that Mom's Markus Trukus (one of her nicknames for him!) would have been in the photo with us. I wish I could hug her even tighter. I wish I could feel that soft, baby fine hair on her head again. If I could do even one of those things, maybe my heart wouldn't hurt and feel so empty today.

This year, we are not lucky enough to have Mom's birthday fall on Mother's Day. This year, my goal is to find a way to get through these two days as quickly as we can. Even if I were to lock myself in the house, there doesn't seem to be a way to escape the fact that everyone else is celebrating their Mom. I truly am happy for them even though it probably doesn't sound like it! I really am! My problem is that the reality of it all makes it hard for me to go to that safe place in my head and pretend that this is all a bad dream. Yup, denial, people. It can be your friend when absolutely!

A dear friend recently reminded me that the 'firsts' are always hard. Maybe she is right. Perhaps I am on emotion overload due to recently dealing with our 'first' Easter without her, the 'first' birthday of my late sister without her (we always held each other up on that day), the 'first' time we had to return home from vacation without her welcoming us at the door with a huge hug, and among other things, the 'first' time I had to endure surgery for skin cancer without her to support me while Mark had to be at work. All of those things have occurred in the past two weeks, so yes, it appears that I am a victim of the 'firsts'!

Of course, admitting all of those things probably makes me look stupid and weak, and not at all like the strong woman I aspire to be. My sweet Mark always reminds me that expressing our grief means that we are loving, feeling, compassionate souls, and he is proud that I am not ashamed to embrace that way of thinking. Having such a close relationship with my Mom has always been such a blessing to me, but sometimes, on days like today, I wonder how good it really was. It makes the loss of her love hurt so much more, but deep in my heart, I know that I am a better daughter, mother, wife, and friend because of it.

As I sit here and let myself revisit those memories of a little, ponytailed girl who took her younger sister by the hand and bravely walked to the store to make a big surprise happen, I realize one thing; our life wouldn't have been the same without Mom standing by our side. And although my sister's life was cut way too short, we wouldn't have been the women we grew up to be. We became strong, loving, caring, giving women that Mom was so very proud of. I hope that I continue to honor her by being the best Mom I can be to Miss Renee. At this moment, the thought of me continuing her legacy of love gives me strength to carry on. She would want that for all of us.

This afternoon, instead of hiding in my closet, I will try to find comfort in the memories of all the days we spent together; the good, the bad, and certainly not just the ones that Hallmark thinks we should celebrate. If that doesn't work, I shall go outside and cry happy tears over the plants that Mom and I have carefully nurtured since we planted them in our yard a few years ago. This year, almost as a gift to me, they have finally flowered for the first time. Seeing that peony bloom when we returned from Disney just took my breath away. My heart would love to believe that she had something to do with that.

Happy Mother'sBirthday Day, Mom. I have high hopes that my blond 'twin', Renee, has grown a green thumb and has also learned to bake tasty treats up there in the ovens of Heaven. If not, I sure hope they have a Frank's Nursery and Mother's Cheesecake Outlet. They were always her 'Go-To' places when her big sister wasn't around to bail her out!


Tink *~*~* said...



"Strong" is over-rated. You're SUPPOSED to cry your eyes out this year.

Next year too, but a little less.

Do not resist it. Embrace it. This is your chance. Dig up all the memories and let them wash over you with the attendant emotions, both happy and sad.

Feel it all, with abandon. I PROMISE if you embrace it, then it will get better faster, and only the joy will remain. Much joy. Abundant, intense joy.

Go for it.

*hands you a case of Kleenex*


Tink *~*~*

Mare said...

*takes that case of Kleenex 'cause I need it*

I blame Mom for the whole "Strong" woman facade. It's all her!

Again, it's that 'whole learning by example' thing. I had never experienced losing anyone I loved prior to my sister dying. I will admit that there was never a lack of tears in our home, but we often put on that "Strong" face when my Dad came to visit. He just never got over her death, and if we cried in front of him, we couldn't pull him out of the dark abyss he would let himself fall into. Sigh...not good times at all.

I do a lot of my crying when I mow the Back 40. It takes me about 3 hours from start to finish, and no one knows any better. The stupid allergens that are flying around make my eyes red, too! ;)

Starwars1993 said...


That was so beautiful. =0)

I agree with strong being over rated... sometimes I really detest when people say that to me because then it makes me feel guilty when I NEED to cry!!!

Today I read through some cards from my Mom.She LOVED to send us cards and I loved them when I got them and I treasure them now.I love looking at her teacher's penmanship and reading what she's up to. That makes me feel closer to she's still just a few hours drive away.And I cry and feel happy at the same time that I had her for a Mom.=0)

You are a WONDERFUL Mom,,daughter,wife,sister and friend Mare...being weepy now and then IS ALLOWED!!!
Love you!

Mare said...

That's it, exactly, Alicia! I feel like everyone expects me to be strong (because I always have been), so the guilt ends up consuming me when I am not. Mark always says that I should have been raised Catholic or Jewish because I am the "Guilt Queen"!

I found a rap (yes, a!) that Mom and I had written when we first moved down here. I was laughing through the tears as I read it, so I am right there with you on the little treasures that our Moms have left for us. We are very lucky daughters, aren't we? <3

Starwars1993 said...

A rap?!?!?...LOLOLOL!!

I have Catholic guilt galore!!!OY! HA!

Yes we are lucky! =0)

Wannabe Farmers said...

Can I hold your hand my friend? I won't go into all of the why. I just love & adore you and your fam and Wilson.

Tootie said...

Mare, you are much stronger than I. The only thing that seems to help me is just sticking my head in the sand. So far, the more memories I ponder over, the more it hurts. Reality just sucks! Your post was beautiful. Now, I need to get the kleenex box out again.

I hope your eye is much better today. :)

Mare said...

Farmer Chele, I will gladly take your hand. I just wish it could be here and now instead of virtually.

And just to make you use the tissues, too, I will share a little secret with you...Wilson thought you rocked! It's amazing to me that she never met our friends in person, but knew and felt their love from the stories we all shared with her.

Love you, too. <3

Mare said...

Tootie, I am really not strong. I just play that role on TV! ;)

I am the Queen of Avoiding Reality. I inherited that title from Mom once she left us, as she originally was the Queen, and I, the Princess. When we lost my sister, I can remember us all sitting together and crying and wondering how in the world we were going to get through it.

For many years, we had the kind of days you mentioned. Those were the days where we just hid our heads in the earth (and you, the sand!) because there was no other way to deal. One day it came back to bite me in the butt, though. I remember driving down the road and seeing the sun streaming through the clouds. I had been doing great running from reality until that point. For whatever reason, that beautiful sight caused those months of tears and memories I had 'strongly' pushed away to rise to the surface. I actually had to pull over because I was crying so hard!

I always told Mom that she was my inspiration because if it hurt so badly for me to lose my sister, I couldn't even imagine what it was like for her to lose her daughter. She was so brave and strong and I wanted to be just like her.

Tootie, you too, are an inspiration to me. I know that may not help right now, but I just want you to know that. *hugs*

Kimba said...

Mare, as usual your words are eloquent and beautiful. My Hugs to you and I give them to you, Mark and Renee anytime you have to deal with a first,or just want a hug.


Anonymous said...

Just read your blog my Mare bear. It was beautiful. One more way of getting to know "you." Through your feelings and memories of MOM, i learn more about you. Mark is right. Cry, because i know, like him, that u are loving, caring, and a wonderful friend..who will tell me to do the same when the time comes. Being strong is letting your tears out and not holding them back. A weak person fears that emotion. You my friend, are a strong mother, wife, and friend. Love you for that, and for sooo many more things. Love you<3. Happy Birthmother's Day Mom<3 (did i say that rt?? Lol.)

Christa said... don't have to justify a damn thing! Life is yours to live any way you choose, not the way someone thinks you should live it. That was a hard lesson for me to learn, but my life is so much better when I live that way.

By the way, the "seconds," "thirds" and "fourths" might be hard, too. I forgot to share that info. It's been almost 6 years since Dad died, and as I was rubbing my arm the other day it reminded me of the way he would rub his arm and the tears showed up. So, just know that you are allowed any emotion you choose, and you can express it any way you choose.

(Just turned on the computer today and am getting caught up!)

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