By Missy Brame, LMFTA
A Mother’s Day Tribute
My mother turned 81 this year. She lives in one of those continuing care communities, which if you are fortunate enough (or perhaps unfortunate) will provide appropriate medical care culminating in full hospitalization and hospice. She is proud of her decision to “buy in” to this CCC as it removes any difficult decisions that my sister or I might otherwise have to make at some point.
My mother has always been decisive and practical. She has a corner unit that suits her, and she loves being selected to show potential newcomers how nice the accommodations are. She thinks this has something to do with her chosen color scheme and the furniture she bought at Ethan Allen. I credit her enthusiasm and sense of humor.
My mother has always been social. I remember as a child, she belonged to two women’s bridge groups, as well as a duplicate bridge group with my dad. She was involved in community theater and I particularly recall her part in the chorus line in Can-Can. Those ruffled skirts were colorful and complicated, and I remember her sewing them for weeks before the show. I think Can-Can was her favorite play because she got to dance, and unlike all the other mothers, my mother could seriously move.
She took dance for years as a girl, and I remember her twirling in the kitchen with my dad. She had beautiful long legs (those genes apparently skip a generation), and she could kick as high as any Cole Porter protégé. As she got older, her focus changed from performing and leaned more towards fundraising for the arts. For years she had a leading role in the annual designer showcase project that raised money for the local symphony. I have no doubt she was a powerful force in that role and a major factor in the record-breaking amounts earned during her tenure.
Mom is a lot of fun, but she can be prickly, especially if her feelings are hurt. And when she tells you that she is not a morning person, it is probably best to believe her and avoid early morning conversations. Her directness and moral compass are two qualities I simultaneously value and fear. She does not sugarcoat anything. Her praise is genuine and meaningful—an exception being the time she tried to make me feel better about my unruly haircut and teenage acne. “You look just like Cheryl Ladd.” It was such a ludicrous statement that it made me laugh, and I did actually feel better knowing she loved me enough to compromise the truth—which she rarely did. (As an aside, on my absolute best day, I look nothing like Cheryl Ladd.)
I spoke to Mom on the phone the other day. She told me she had reconnected with an old friend, Rose; from high school that she hadn’t seen in over 60 years and would I believe they both had white hair and glasses! Yes, I could make that stretch. This old friend told my mom that she now had a boyfriend they went to high school with. My mother said she did not remember him and Rose replied, “Well he remembered you were a majorette.” In relaying their conversation to me, my mother pretended to think the comment about her being a majorette was ridiculous. My mother said to me, “Why on earth would he say he remembered I was a majorette. I mean, I was a majorette but why would he say that?” I think on some level she was pleased her friend’s boyfriend still thought of her as a majorette.
It’s tempting to think of our mothers as simply our mothers. These are the women who took such good care of us and loved us with their whole hearts, their whole lives. Our mother’s taught us to be kind and generous, independent, and strong. They were girls once too before we knew them. They were funny and silly; they danced and played basketball and twirled batons. They had crushes on boys and rode their bikes to the movies on Saturday. They were young women with dreams. And now many years later, those dreams, whether lived or lost, have been replaced with experience and wisdom. My own mother’s wisdom is carved from hard work and achievement, commitment and dedication, her share of loss and disappointment and a prevailing spirit of love and acceptance.
My mom lives far away from me now, and I miss seeing her as frequently as I had for so many years. We speak on the phone often, but it’s not the same. I want a hug goodbye at the end of our conversation, not a “We’ll talk again soon.” But I have her with me always. I hear her laugh in mine and I have a lifetime of memories and funny stories I can conjure up whenever I feel the need. I hope she knows how much she means to me and how much I love her. To you mom and all of the other wonderful mothers in the world, Happy Mother’s Day from your children that love you.
Missy Brame is a clinical therapist with Pine Grove Behavioral Health & Addiction Services, our Legacy program.