Monday, May 14, 2012

A Bittersweet Mother's Day

Once when I was 7 or 8, I found a chocolate bar in my house. No one was around, or at least looking, so I tried it.  I can still recall the sharp-rich flavor from the first bite, then the harsh sourness as I chewed.  I probably thought to myself that I had taken a bad bite, so I tried again and received the same undesirable result.  I remember flipping the wrapper to see what it said, and it was a word I had never seen before: Bittersweet.  I didn’t know what the word meant at the time, other than “awful candy bar”, and it took me a long time but I know now.

Mother’s Day was this weekend and there are two very important mothers in my life: my own mother and my wife.  It is important to honor them both on this day. Their day. The one day of the year dedicated to celebrating how wonderful they are for having given themselves to their children and families. Even though we should really celebrate them 365 days a year. 

My wife is wonderful. She is not picky or demanding and is very laid back. My mother was always surprised by how calm Mrs. Dude is and has asked me countless times “Is that real? Is anyone really that chill?”  I can’t think of anyone who is more helpful, caring, nurturing or loving than my wife. She is now half-way through her/our second gestational journey and is still constantly chasing our 35-pound 2 ½ year old Little Dude with a smile on her face.

We had a wonderful weekend celebrating my wife and the superlative mother she is. It was not-surprisingly all low-key with quality spent time at the beach and the pool enjoying the weather and each other. We BBQed and played with our Little Dude. And it was amazing.

But honoring my own mother was more difficult. The only mother I know who might be more extraordinary than my wife is my own. From the moment she birthed my 11 lb. body, she was always willing to sacrifice for me. As the youngest of three kids, I was able to get a lot of quality time with her when I was younger, when my older siblings had grown up and gone to college. We spoke our own language and no one else really ever got it.  And that was OK with us.

What made this weekend hard is that I couldn’t call my mother to thank her for her tireless work over these last few decades. She lost her battle with breast cancer 16 months ago, so this was my second Mother’s Day without a mother to call or send a card to. And it sucked.

Living across the country for the last dozen years, most years I was not with my mother on Mother’s Day.  Now I would give anything to have just one of those missed opportunities back. To sit beside her and listen to stories of her pregnancy with me, when people constantly asked if she was having twins. Including her OB. (No joke). Stories that only she knew and I never had the foresight to ask her to record.  I try to recall as many as I can, but it gets harder with each passing day as my own child begins to occupy more of my limited available memory.

I really struggled with how to pay tribute to her now that she is no longer just a phone call away. Oftentimes when I would call her, she’d answer with “that’s good ESP”, meaning she was just thinking of me.  After a while I realized that it wasn’t a coincidence. I was constantly on her mind, as I’m sure my brother and sister were as well. For that’s what a great mother is about. Living for her children. Her family that she would do anything for and which keeps her up at night from birth until, well, until…

I guess the best way to pay tribute to my mother is to continue our ESP. For though I can no longer call her on the phone, all I really need to do is think of her and I know she’ll be there for me.  As she always has been and always will be.  Just as I know my wife will be for our son. From now until, well, until…



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62 comments:

  1. It has been 5 years since my wife lost her mother. It's always hard. I'm sorry for your loss.

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  2. Oh what a lovely man you are. Seriously - paying such a sweet tribute to your wife, and a heartfelt tribute to your mom - that in itself says quite a lot about how she raised you. You are her living work of art and you're doing her proud. I have a feeling she was peeking over your shoulder as you wrote this post, saying, "That's good ESP I was thinking the same thing." (-:

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    1. Thank you, Ado. Your comment brought a smile to my face on this tough day.

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  3. What a beautiful post and lovely tribute. I'm so sorry for your loss.

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  4. I hope my son will feel the same way about me that you feel about your mom--what wonderful words! From her new vantage point, she must be so proud of you!

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    1. Thank you, Jennifer. That is very kind of you.

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  5. I am sorry for your loss. That's much too soon to say goodbye to your mother. I am thrilled for you and your family as you wait to grow though.

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  6. I am so sorry for your loss but what a beautifully written tribute to her, I'm not ashamed to admit I cried! I seem to be doing that a lot this blogger challenge lol.

    Being a mother to three I can tell you without a doubt how your mother felt... Proud, awed, and head over heals in love with all her kiddies (but the third born - the last baby - is always a little bit special because as mothers we have learned not to take the moments for granted and so we enjoy them just a little bit more)!

    Thanks for sharing! *cyber hugs*

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    1. Thanks, Carrie. No reason to be ashamed. And you are right on about the third born/youngest. We are the best :)

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  7. oh wow, i'm so so very sorry for your loss. this was a great tribute.

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  8. Wow. To be blessed with both a wonderful mother and a wonderful wife is a true gift. Thank you for sharing your story. I hope my sons feel the same way one day when I am gone.

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  9. You and Little Dude are so lucky to have a great woman at the helm, and having such a good mother surely influenced your choice of a wife. Love the opening scene with the chocolate bar; my husband occasionally gets into my baking chocolate when he can't find anything else. . .

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    1. Thanks, Louise. I can still taste that awful bitterness. Ugh.

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  10. I'm so sorry to hear about your mom. This was a beautiful post. And BTW, you were 11 pounds? That's a big little dude.

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    1. Thank you, WRR! Yep, I was 10 lbs and 15 oz. Like a small turkey.

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  11. Jay, what amazing words! Truly a testimate to what your mother meant to you and how she is a part of you. She was an amazing woman and you are an amazing son! This is so inspriring and such great words about your wife as well! Well done sir.

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    1. Thanks, Chad. I really appreciate that.

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  12. What a beautiful post. If my boys grow up to love me and think of me half as much as you clearly love and think of your mother, I will count myself extremely blessed.

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  13. This is a wonderful tribute to your wife and your mother. Your love for them both really pours through here.

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    1. Thanks, Michelle. You know how tough it can be...

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  14. This was incredibly beautiful and sweet. So sorry about your mom, but I'm just betting she loved this sweet little bit of ESP from where she is watching over you.

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    1. Thanks, Katie. I'm sure she was thinking it while I was typing :)

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  15. I'm so sorry for your loss. Beautiful post, very touching. Your wife is very lucky to have such a thoughtful husband. :)

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    1. Thanks, Karine. I appreciate your sweet words.

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  16. What a lovely tribute from a lovely man and writer. What a gift. I wish you peace in your grief because you have displayed the beauty. Ellen

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  17. this is beautiful and heartbreaking all at once. beautiful in that you love so well and have been loved so well in return. heartbreaking that you had to lose one. but not really, just the close physical of her. you keep her right there with you, always.

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  18. Aww, I'm sorry. I can't even imagine how much that hurts, not having your mom on mother's day...

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    1. Thank you, Gia. I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

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  19. I still have both moms in my life and I wasn't as thankful until after I read your piece.

    Great work.
    WG
    http://itsmynd.com

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    1. Thanks, WG. Enjoy them as long as you can.

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  20. Oh I'm sorry. I will have to face that soon enough. I'm sorry for your loss and am glad you feel your sweet mom with you still.

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    1. Thanks, Pish. Savor every moment you can.

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  21. It's hard to keep all the memories at the surface, but I bet they are still intact. I'm so sorry that your mom lost her battle to cancer; I love that you still keep her close.

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    1. Thank you, TG. It's not easy, but it's important.

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  22. Posts like this always make my heart ache because I'm reminded of what I didn't have and I don't feel the desire to do something for mine. It's sad, I know. You are so blessed that you had a mother you could celebrate and honor. I'm sorry for your loss.

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    1. Thanks, Kathy. I wish you had what I did.

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  23. Wonderful post. Wonderful remembrance and honor. I hope it's comforting to you, despite having lost that all-encompassing love too early.

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    1. Thanks, Mutter. It's definitely cathartic. But still not easy.

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  24. So sorry about your mom, great post!

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  25. Great post. I am so sorry for your loss.
    My cousin lost her mom when she was 4 years old. Since then, she honors her dad on Mother's Day as well because he raised her alone. Very sad.

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  26. Thoughtful and sweet post. You are a great son and husband. Your women are lucky to have you.

    Best wishes,
    Pippi

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  27. This was beautiful. So sorry for your loss. Your mother clearly raised a wonderful son.

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  28. What a wonderful tribute to both your wife and mother. I'm so sorry for your loss.

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  29. 11 lbs? Woah!

    I'm sorry for your loss! She sounds like she was amazing!

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    1. Yes, I wasn't messing around, Adrienne :)

      thank you.

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  30. Beautiful tribute to your Mum & your wife. There should be more men in the world like you!!

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