May 11th, 2013
As Mother's Day approaches, I can't help but think about you, and me, you and me. You'd scoff at that, I know, remind me that this holiday was manufactured to create revenue for the greeting-card industry, and I'd shrug, lips pressed together, because there never was any point in arguing with you, and also because I've always been more conventional than you. Mother's Day makes me thrill, oh yes it does, and I'll take my little thrills when and where I find them.
Once, when I was a poor graduate student, I sent you flowers from Chicago. I was so proud of my detective work in finding a florist only two blocks from you and ordering direct, as opposed to using a middleman, FTD or the like. What can I say? I was twenty-four years old, still trying on adulthood and checking myself out from every angle in the three-way mirror of life's dressing room.
I called on that Mother's Day (1992, it must have been), and I asked you if you'd received the flowers. You replied, "Oh, yes, I did; you shouldn't have, Sarah, because I don't at all care about this day, but just so you know, don't buy from that florist again, because the flowers were wilted and old."
You were always brutally honest like that. I wonder now if you didn't have a mild form of Asperger's. You did not - could not, would not? - traffic in social niceties. I imagine my post-college sons sending me flowers, and I can think of no earthly reason why I would want to inform them that their flowers might be anything less than exquisite. Nor would I be lying - the generosity inherent in the gesture of sending me flowers, remembering me on Mother's Day, would sanctify those flowers, whatever their physical form happened to be.
I write all of this, however sad it once made me, in a strangely detached way. Time has done that, allowed me to become matter-of-fact and accepting. Now I see you without distortion: I see you for precisely who you were. I understand you, and understanding makes forgiveness easy. Look at that! I no longer have to try on adulthood. I am, finally, an adult.
And so, even though in response you'd roll your eyes and say something gruff and possibly unkind, I wish you a Happy Mother's Day in my unironic, conventional way, and you know what? I love you despite your imperfections. I might even love you because of them. They were a part of you, no different from your tiny child's nose, your broad shoulders, your upside-down smile. To love people wholly is to accept them as they are, not as they might have been, if only.
And I do love you wholly, and I thank you, for loving me the best, and only, way you could.