Sorting though a box of cards, I found a note written in the wobbly hands of two 11-year old boys:
For this WONDERFUL MOTHER'S Day we will give you hugs and kisses for ever!!!
Tu est comme une fleur, une abeille qui fait du miel, un chat qui est est si gentil.
(You are like a flower, a bee who makes honey, a cat who's so nice.)
The next note in the pile was from 8 years later and says:
I went to bed @ 3 am. Let me sleep in till noon or wake me up if you're going out for lunch.
PS. Happy Mother's Day!
Sic transit gloria matrem. (And please correct my Latin, the accusative case is lost in the mists of fifty years.)
Over the years, I've received gifts ranging from the earnest Gummy Lump to pearl earrings, and not one is favoured over the other. In fact, the whole commercial aspect of Mothers' Day is irrelevant to me; I simply reflect every year on this experience, which was almost lost, as I did not have children till I was all but 39.
The occasion puts a pin in the map of memory and invites me to pause in gratitude for the gift of being a mother.
A few years ago, my friend Susan sewed satin pjs with animal-print trim for her 90+ year old mother, Kay. She's lucky to have her. And so, I think of my mother, too, with whom I (and nearly everyone else) had an intense and complex relationship.
Here she is, holding one of my sons; she is 80; Jules is nearly 1. Mom lived on for nearly 20 more years, obdurate, sharp, even charming when she felt like it for every one of them. She was a force of nature, and I miss her.