Celebrating Our Mothers —Those Here with Us and Ones No Longer Here

Mother’s Day is the annual opportunity we are given a gift, to show appreciation for the first loves in our lives. Growing from infant to child to young adult to “functioning adult,” we can thank our mothers for being the facilitators of who we will become. They listen to our hopes and dreams, drive us to see people and places where we can attempt to become professional sports players, business owners, and master of challenging trades. They believe in us and love us unconditionally.

The older we get, it’s easy to think we matured by ourselves. Until you become a parent, it still looks easy. It is not. I recall several times scrambling in the door from a backyard or school sports injury—blisters, blood on arms and legs that had done battle, and in pain, having lost…to the lawn. No matter how it looked, Mom was always calm, reassuring, and thoughtful patching me up. Or she’d just drive me straight to the emergency clinic (calmly).

By high school, Moms are often the friends of our friends, who know their names, know their parents, and know that they can be counted on to be where they are supposed to be, meaning helping us stay out of trouble, too. Mom’s rule in our house was she didn’t care how many times the refrigerator door opened and closed when friends came by, just always make sure you shut its door when you were done.

Becoming an adult meant allowing me to figure out what I didn’t already know, while quietly being available should I want to talk something over. Next, she became a good friend to my wife, the best gift of all.

This year remind your Mom how much you love her. If she lives locally, but you can’t visit in person, use your phone to create a video for her to enjoy. Choose a special card and mail early. Tell her what you remember of her as a mom from the earliest age you recall.

For those who’ve lost their mother since the beginning of this year, or even since this time last year—this is your very first year without your best friend for many of you. You are supposed to know how to feel, and how to cope, right? No. Not really. No one can tell you how you feel. Anyone who tries is well-meaning but all they’re doing is recalling their reactions and response.

Grieving the loss of your mom takes time. It’s also very dependent on whether you’ve had proper time to grieve. Only you know how many times per day you think of picking up the phone, because you want to call her and tell her something. Sometimes you’re cooking and want to ask your mom what was in her recipe. You’re trying to remember the story of a relative long ago, and you just know that Mom would know who that person was you’re trying to recall.

Mothers are the repositories of the best memories of our lifetimes, when we need her to recall them. She also remembers every one of life’s disappointments that came our way and more often than not, she was the one who could literally make everything better by her thoughtfulness, her cheerful attitude, her can-do spirit of encouraging us to get up and try again, or her amazing medical talents not to faint when she saw us coming after a fall on the concrete playground.

Of all the reasons we love our moms, we love them for remembering every little thing that is important to us, and the names of every person we like and the ones we don’t, too. They were our first advocates and when they are gone, as adult as many of us are, we stand and stare at the air in wonderment of what it is exactly we are to do now that she is no longer here to supply her words of wisdom that are what we are hoping to hear. What do we do now? We carry on in her honor, we continue to press on as she would want you to do. And she would want you to keep on going for all the things in your future that would bring you joy.

Your Mother is and was like no other. That’s how many of us feel. If you ever see the TV program, “Young Sheldon” there’s a precious moment when Sheldon looks directly into his mother’s eyes and says, “There are 5 billion people on this planet and you’re the perfect Mom for me.” Their unconditional love and support is the most powerful source of positive energy on this planet.

However, not all biological mothers fall into that category for whatever reason in life that comes our way, and the person we grow up calling Mom, may indeed be a grandmother, an aunt, a big sister, or a beloved neighbor who similarly has devoted a part of their lives to seeing us through to adulthood successfully. We love them as our own. We might have special nicknames for them, but no matter what, they stand in place for that Mother figure we hope everyone can have.

Then there are mothers with no human children but they are Mom, Mommy, and “My Human” to our fur babies. The word “granddog” became popular decades ago. I think it was Cathy Guisewite who wrote the comic strip, “Cathy,” who was a career woman but whose mother wished only that she would get married and have children. Cathy had a dog, therefore the mother in the cartoon strip referred to the dog as “her granddog.” I submit to you that mothers and grandmothers of our fur babies are ever as much mothers as those who have children.

They spend hours searching for the proper nutrition, clothing, sleeping accommodations, walking, exercising, taking them to the doctor (vet) whenever the slightest change in their health occurs, and they will stay up all night long with them if they need extra care and attention. That devotion goes exactly to what the heart of a mom is supposed to be about.

Giving and receiving love unconditionally is just what a mom does. The love is never-ending, and it is sufficient to cover you, and all the people whom you love. The beauty of a mother’s love, as well as those who stand in stead for a mother figure, is that it is free.  You can’t buy it. It doesn’t disappear overnight. It lasts a lifetime. So, as many of you here today are searching for how to feel without your mom right here with you, there are a few things you can do to maybe make things feel a little better.

The first is that you can document in a photo album or a journal, the most important stories of your mother’s life with you, from your earliest memories, or the funniest, or the ones where you grew stronger by her example. Pictures or words, or pictures and words, either one will work fine. Then, you can remember that there are others, just like you, maybe in your family, who are missing her too. Reach out to them and tell them you love them, and talk a little bit about the memories you have and the ones you all shared together. Soon, your tears will turn to laughter as you reflect together.

Third, remember that there are those who are not mothers this day, and who would have loved to have been mothers, but for whatever reason are not. If you have an opportunity, reach out and just call them on this day as perhaps they are missing their moms, too. Not everyone is in the same situation, but I would expect that for everyone who did not have the comfort and reassurance of a biological mother in their lives, they found someone to hug and to talk to and to listen to and they served in that place. Taking time for others is just what mothers do.

Because stores have not been opened at full capacity to shop in, and because the line at the drive-up flower tents in town might be slow moving and have a long waiting line as well, having just the “right” gift for Mom might be a challenge this year. It could be that you could not afford a gift at all if you lost your job. These are trying times and everyone is going through some struggle or other. What is free to give, however, is your voice, are your words, by your example. Telling someone you love, who’s always loved you, “Thank you for loving me” is the best gift of all that you could offer. It’s not roses, diamonds, cars, or candy that can equal the gift of your time and caring.

On this most unusual yet memorable Mother’s Days in our 21st century, to all the mothers out there, including our own, Chelsea and I salute and thank each of you for being such wonderful examples of love. May you be richly blessed with time with those you love, and hear from those far away from you, perhaps in military service, and the knowledge that you have made an unforgettable difference in the lives of all whom you have loved. Happy Mother’s Day and God bless you all.

Cody D. Jones ‘02