It was like a slow-moving storm that began creeping around my consciousness the week before Mother’s Day. I felt irritable, tired and was probably a tad b—– (it rhymes with “witchy”). I’m usually in tune with my emotions, but this time I was stymied.
Emotions are tricky: The body somehow knows that something is amiss before the heart does — something that perhaps we’re not ready to face. As the week progressed, my aforementioned emotions intensified. What in the world was wrong with me, I wondered. My life was truly on the upswing; things were great.
I woke up Sunday morning with a lump in my throat and tears threatening to spill over. This was no time for a meltdown; I had to teach a youth group class before attending church. An incoming text message reminded me it was Mother’s Day. Mom predeceased my husband, Frank, by a few months. My kids live on the West Coast and I was spending the day alone. (Big clue, but I remained clueless!)
Puzzling, however, was that my kids sent me wonderful gifts as they do every Mother’s Day, complete with lovely sentimental notes and cards. Mom has been gone for over four years and I hadn’t an inkling as to why this Mother’s Day upset me. Before I put on my mascara (I had a handle on that!) I decided to throw a “woe is me” pity party for one.
I had to leave the party early because I needed to be at church. However, I was still in “party” mode when I arrived to teach my class and attend church. The priest gave a heartfelt sermon on motherhood that touched me deeply. The soloist sang the most beautiful rendition of “Ave Maria” that brought back those tears — mascara-running tears. (I wasn’t the only one she touched!)
When it was time for the younger children to come up from their Sunday school class, three of the most adorable kids — all from the same family — presented me with a beautiful handmade Mother’s Day card. My heart smiled for the first time in a week.
It was a freeze-frame moment — a strange little moment that lives inside our hearts and peeks out from time to time. I remembered my sons when they were this age. The block of ice that was my heart began to melt when I thought of my treasure chest full of handmade cards from my sons. My mind’s eye recalled the Mother’s Days we spent together and now apart.
Bingo! I realized my malaise was due to the tick-tock of life’s clock. I thought of what it was like once upon a time, a long time ago: The burned pancakes, spilled corn flakes, flowers picked from the neighbor’s garden and my sons’ delight in jumping on the bed to awaken me.
After Mom died, we found her “treasures”: the handmade cards from me and my five siblings. When those cards were replaced by grown-up cards, did she experience the “Mother’s Day” blues? Did she throw herself a “woe is me” pity party as well? Yup, she probably did.
After church I felt better. (I always do!) Clutching my beautiful card in my hand, I headed to the assisted living facility where I’m employed. I don’t work Sundays, but this was special. I wanted to visit my “golden girls,” all of whom are moms, to let them know how much I cared about them. I wanted to pay it forward. (Hmm. Sometimes I do follow my own advice! )
I marvel at how a little gesture of kindness can brighten one’s day. We never know whom we will touch or when. I still see the shy smiles on the faces of my little church friends when they presented me with my treasure. I want them to know that the card is hanging on my refrigerator and that it will always remain one of my very special treasures.
Thank you, Patrick, Shannon and Brandon.
Top photo: The Mother’s Day card made for the author by three Sunday school children. (Credit: Ceila Iannelli)
Ms. Iannelli is a resident of Jamesport.