Friday, May 07, 2010

I Remember Mama

I really miss Mama and Mom. One was gone too soon. My mother was only 46 when she died, suddenly, of a brain hemorrhage caused by an aneurysm in December of 1968. My mother-in-law, lovable and infuriating, passed away a year ago at age 94 of natural causes, as well. Funny, but it felt like she was gone too soon, even though she was over twice the age my mother was when she died.

No matter how old you are, I don't think you are ever ready to lose your mother. I was 23 when I lost mine. My husband was 69 when he lost his and I loved her almost like my own. My two oldest children were infants when they lost me. Losing your mother sucks at ANY age. Babies just can't tell you they are in mourning.

 I am now a part of that generation that has no living predecessor. All grandparents, parents and now, all my aunts and uncles are gone. My husband has one living aunt, age 85. We are the senior generation.

When I was a kid, I remember wearing a red rosebud pinned to my dress to church on Mother's Day. My mother wore a red rose corsage as well. Then, one Mother's Day, my grandmother came out from her room wearing a white rose. My great-grandmother had passed away the summer before. That was when I was introduced to the "white rose orphans." It was the first time I understood the meaning of the red versus the white roses. I looked around at church and saw a lot of people wearing white roses. All of them but two were older, many with gray hair. There were two little boys, there with their father, who wore white rosebud boutonnieres. They had lost their mother to cancer.

Then, there I was, years later, getting ready for church, pinning a little red rose on my raised daughter's dress and then reaching into the box and taking out the white rose corsage I had bought for this day. It was a painful moment and, now, years past the church-going and rose-wearing, I still feel that pinch in the region of my heart on Mother's Day.

Mother's Day was as hard for me as the birthdays of my daughter and son. I would find myself wondering if they were thinking about me and wondering, too. With the sudden loss of my mother, it became a day that I put on a mask of happiness for the sake of my two raised children. For me, for many years, Mother's Day equaled loss and grief. Believe me, all the little hand-made gifts and cards from my raised children are preserved with pride and loving memories. I've already received cards and wishes and flowers and little gifts from my children, all of them, and will get phone calls on Mother's Day and a lot of the pain has been eased. But I still remember Mama, and Mom, and Grandma S. and Gramma K. and all the other family members that are gone and I know one thing for sure..Mothers, families and children are NOT interchangable and are sorely missed when they are gone.

So Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers and children. Connect if you can and remember the mothers that are not with us. I miss Mama.


Sandy Young said...

I miss mine, who died at 49, when I was a pregnant 28, too, Robin. We are never too old to be orphans. I like the idea of that white and red rose thing, and sort of remember it. I think that was a southern thing, mostly. We left the south before I was really aware of those things. It is a nice idea. Too bad when some of the things we did are lost to the generations. Like Memorial Day,when it was also called Rememberance Day and you decorated the family graves...the whole family together. It was one of my favorite childhood memories...decorating the graves with the Peonies and cut flowers from the gardens. Lovely....

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the lovely Mothers Day story. First I'd heard of the red white rose custom.

Robin said...

The red rose for a living mother and white rose for a deceased mother is a Southern/church thing. I say "church thing" because I do know some Protestant churches in other parts of the country do this as well.

It is a custom that has its own beauty but wearing that white rose was hard for me for quite a while. I don't think it would be so bad now as I would see it as honoring her memory. Back then, I saw it as saying, "my mother is gone and I am alone."

Mandy Lifeboats said...

The only mother I had, passed away 12 years ago and she is still missed by me. Her mother, my only grandmother..who I only knew for 2 short periods in my life, as an infant, then at 18, passed away in 1968..I never had the chance to really know who my grandmother was. Still I know I am blood of their blood, flesh of their flesh..and they were strong women in their own right. I am proud to claim them as my mother and grandmother. Bless them forever, wherever they are this Mother's Day.
Give your Mother/s a call is short and you never know what the next Mother's Day may bring or not. We only get one chance at this thing called Life!