The first year's worth of holidays after losing a loved one is not fun. Mom's passing last October was so close to the winter holidays, they seemed very surreal (especially spending Christmas in Florida). I'll be staying home this Christmas, mostly because I'm going to Las Vegas for Thanksgiving. Just the three of us going: Me, myself and I. No schedule while there (except the ticketed shows I'll be seeing); no agenda. Just some insane people-watching and the sights and food of Sin City. I can't wait.
Still, today has been the most difficult holiday, so far. Most of my friends spent the day with their Moms. I can't begrudge them that. I would have done the same, if I could. Picking out just an "Aunt" card for my father's dear sister was certainly tough, given the lack of them at the store. And not looking for several new books for Mom to read was even tougher. She was midway through the last book I bought her (for her birthday) when she passed.
I think I've mentioned before that all my mother wanted to be was a mother. She wanted seven children, but ended up with just two. When my parents split up after 27 years, she picked herself up and reinvented herself as a savvy working woman, dating but never re-marrying. She even briefly entertained a hot Russian who was five years younger than I was. She settled down when her health started to fail in her late 50's, but she was kept active by her job and the few friends she had. But once she was forced to retire (the Cadillac dealer she worked for went out of business), she sort of gave up and I watched her steady decline with a very sad heart. When she went into the hospital for the last time, I still had hope she would pull through. I thought we'd have a few more years with her, at least. But it was not to be.
Mom loved kids and animals. She's feeding a lorakeet at the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa in that picture, the last time we went to visit my sister together (I'm guessing 2009). A voracious reader, she often went through two or three novels a week; mostly thrillers and mysteries. The last book she finished was "Under the Dome" because she like the series. She loved "The Walking Dead;" "Falling Skies;" "Grey's Anatomy;" "Scandal;" "Mike and Molly" (a show I find terribly unfunny); "Rizzoli and Isles;" "The Closer"/"Major Crimes;" and "Castle" and she'd be really pissed if she knew she was missing the "24" mini-series. She couldn't spell if you held a gun to her head; she mangled pronunciations and was the Queen of Spoonerisms. She was quick to laugh at herself about it, too. She often got celebrity names confused (Morgan Freeman was always Morgan Fairchild) and while she said she never had a favorite movie, if forced to pick one, it would have been Doctor Zhivago.
She taught my sister and I to cook and do laundry when we were young so we would never have to depend on her. Her cooking when we were kids was awesome, though she often admitted my marinara (based on hers), was better than hers (even though she didn't really like either version). She raised us to be kind to everyone and to not have prejudices. When I finally came out to her, she cried - not because I was gay (she already knew that) but because she thought I was afraid to tell her. She came to almost every show I was in or directed until it became physically too difficult for her to do so and was always supportive of my artistic endeavors. She could out-swear most truckers and occasionally let her own mother's prejudices sneak out, but never with real malice and never without an admonition from me.
It's only been seven months since she left us and I know it will be a long time before I'm really used to the fact that she's gone, but today was just a little bit harder. I miss her - a lot - and am not ashamed to admit it.
If your Mom is still with you, I hope you at least called her today. If you and your Mom are estranged or if your Mom is also gone, I hope you got through today as painlessly as possible.
Happy Mothers' Day, Mom. And Happy Mothers' Day to you and your mother, as well.
Comedian John Roberts (of the terrible "Bob's Burgers") nails the suburban mom on the head with his video "Mother's Day."* And while Mom wasn't nearly as whiny as Roberts, I can hear her voice in plenty of the things he says.
*The placement of the apostrophe in Mothers' Day causes tons of anxiety. I must insist that since it is a day for all mothers, it should come after the final 'S,' while there are those who insist on making it singular by placing the apostrophe before the 'S.' IMHO, punctuating it the latter way makes it about one mother only. Bad form, indeed.