She’s over my shoulder when we do take-out Chinese or Thai food. She’s letting me know she doesn’t approve of putting the plastic take-out containers on the table. My sister, Nancy, and I still do it, but mother’s preferred etiquette floats in the atmosphere around the meal.
She’s there when I can’t remember how to get red wine out of the tablecloth and when I have questions about the Chinese poppies that she had in abundance but refuse to thrive in my back flower bed . Fortunately, the peonies I transplanted from her house when she moved have flourished. She’s a presence when I pull out the ingredient-stained recipe cards for noodle pudding or brisket. She’s there when I walk by a store window and see her reflection in the glass, and when I hear certain expressions coming out of my mouth though I don’t think I ever uttered them when she was alive.
My husband, Jim, especially feels her absence on Saturday mornings when she would wait till she knew I had departed on my weekend errands and then call him, whom she loved as a cherished son, and they’d speak in conspiratorial tones about one family matter or another.
Her absence is felt most keenly, however, when sons Ted and Daniel display the splendid personal and professional traits of which she was so proud, and when her great grandchildren hit new milestones that would have made her so happy.
My mother was a chemistry major at Wellesley College, hired by the Dupont Corporation upon her graduation. (She used to joke that being a chem major was easier in the l930’s because there were fewer elements!) Dupont, however, found out that she was engaged to be married, which would lead to children, God forbid, and there was no place for working mothers in their 1934 business plan. They fired her, and that was that. She spent most of her adult life volunteering and selflessly giving of herself to others, especially her family.
Her enduring legacy to me is in her love of flowers, her voracious appetite for reading (until she lost her sight), her spirit of determination, her humor, her ability to roll with the vicissitudes of life, her organizational skills (that also show up in her great grand-daughter), her salty vocabulary and her ability to forgive, if not forget.
On Mother’s Day, my husband – and maybe one of the kids – will give me flowers, and I’ll smile because it reinforces my link to my mother, Mim Myers, and the many ways I am connected to her every single day of my life.
I’d greatly appreciate your thoughts in the comments section below.
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