I’m always sad on Mother’s Day – because I miss my Mother. I remember on one of the Feasts of the Theotokos, I believe it was the Annunciation, Fr. John was giving his Homily and was talking about how the Theotokos, as the Mother of Christ, was the epitome of Mothers. It was about 3 or 4 years ager my mother died, but all of a sudden my heart broke and I began to weep uncontrollably in the Ol’ Curmudgeon’s arms.
After the service, Fr. John was nearly distraught over my reaction, but I explained that it was just a delayed reaction to my mother’s death.
And every year on Mother’s Day, I find myself feeling deeply sad as I think about my Momma. I miss her. And I miss my little Gam, too. My Momma’s Momma. I don’t think that I want to creep back to being a child and being taken care of by them once more. I just miss them. I used to talk to them about things. Just things. Nothing earth-shattering. But I miss those talks.
I miss my mothers-in-law, too. My first husband’s mother was an imposing-looking woman who was one of the most loving people in the world. She was brusque and unable to accept physical affection. But she was extremely intelligent, she cared about those around her, and even after her son and I divorced, she remained a good friend. She kept track of the children and me – not just because of the children, but because she cared about me, too. When her son remarried, she came to Atlanta for the weekend for his wedding. And she stayed with me! The children were staying with their father – but certainly room could have been developed for her. Yet, she stayed with her EX-daughter-in-law. She went out with me. the Ol’ Curmudgeon and the Ol’ Curmudgeon’s mother for drinks and dinner a couple of times. We sat up late each night and talked about all kinds of things – and really enjoyed the conversations. Politics, educational philosophy, library methodology and philosophical pinnings, the meanings of upcoming computerization – all that and more. Since the Ol’ Curmudgeon’s mother was an academic, our evenings with her were riotous with academic in-jokes. All of us were splitting our sides laughing. And I miss that – laughing across the generations over academic in-jokes.
The Ol’ Curmudgeon’s mother – Ah, how she substituted for Momma after she died! MIL held my hand and made Bloody Marys as necessary while we talked about Momma. I was teaching at Clemson when my MIL died. That’s a story for another day, but it was equally unexpected and heartbreaking. After 22 years, the Ol’ Curmudgeon seems to be becoming able to talk about it and her. He didn’t speak for a full year afterward except to say things like, “pass the salt.” Just buried himself in books – reading 40 – 50 a week (yes, I wrote that right and you read it right). I’m afraid I wasn’t in much better emotional shape. Two of the children had left home right after that (finished HS and went into the Army) and only the younger one was living at home that year. So I did a lot of reading and research – quietly. The younger son and I spent quiet evenings with each other in Clemson during the week, and the Ol’ Curmudgeon worked in Atlanta. We were together on the weekends – quietly. We each deal with the acute throes of grief in our own way. And they last differing lengths of time.
It was about 10 years later when my Ex-MIL died. Gradually the ties with the older generation were being cut. But still, 20 years later, I missed my little Momma and Gam. And each death, each loss, left me with a deeper wound in my heart. Oh, it would heal over, sort of, as all wounds do, but I would be left with a larger scar. And so would the Ol’ Curmudgeon’s heart as his losses piled up.
Now, 35 years after my little Gam’s death, 30 years after my Momma’s death, 20 years after The Ol’ Curmudgeon’s mother died, and 9 years after my Ex-Mother-in-Law’s death, Mother’s Day makes me a bit sad. Now I’m the “Matriarch” of the family. And I’m the one with all the memories of the family. That is a vast responsibility. And I miss all the “Matriarchs” who went before me – those I knew and loved, and those I only heard about, and those I never knew.
Happy Mother’s Day – to all the other Matriarch’s out there!