Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day cards

Last night my brother, sister-in-law, sister, her boyfriend, ex-boyfriend (it was so good to see you Joe) came over to celebrate Jack's birthday. Except for the cool presents, Hershey's chocolate syrup cake at the end, and a last minute burst of balloon ball and ripsticking, Jack was nowhere to be seen. Our day had started with an 8AM little league game. Jon's mom and her boyfriend caught the tail end of the rain delay and headed back here for bagels. We then took an almost impossibly circuitous route to get to a Spiderman birthday party in New Jersey. Truly, I didn't know one could get that lost going to a place we've been before. All I can say is the GPS system in our Subaru was obviously created by someone who never needed to read a map or follow directions. We hit the new and improved Target on our way home which turned out to be new but not improved in the least, except for things like buying ice cream for $3.39 instead of the $7.69 I pay across the street. As Jon maneuvered into the tightest of parking spots, we saw my brother walk by—he carried the 24 roles of toilet paper back to the apartment for us.

So, by 7, Jack was exhausted and happily escaped with Iz into the world of the Sims. Meanwhile, my sister had recently uncovered a box filled with personal mementos of my mom's from years and years before. She brought it all up and we spent hours scouring through things we'd never seen before: her elementary school report cards, my grandmother's death certificate and funeral bill, the menu for my mother's wedding typed up on the most mod stationery I've seen in person, my grandfather's union card, my grandparent's wedding announcement from 1925, envelopes from the early 1920s from him to her—my grandfather apparently wrote to my grandmother every day before they got married. There was a long letter my father wrote to his father after an estrangement that lasted most of my dad's life. A notepad my parents filled jotting thoughts back and forth in a college class. And then there were cards. Valentine's Day cards from my dad to my mom, bursting with his deep love for her. He moved out the day after my high school graduation and it was heartening to see there was a point they had adored each other. I never saw that. Cards from my stepfather too, which added a strange twist. Postcards my mother had written to her mother over the years. And countless cards from me. 


Cards for birthdays, mother's day, valentine's day, postcards from traveling, and then the cards just to say I love you. Written to my dearest mumsy. Cards I bought, cards I made, cards so effusive I don't remember feeling that way—not that I don't love my mom but the language was so over the top it they made me both cringe and laugh out loud. 

And I realized, sadly, I don't do that anymore. I don't send cards. I don't write how I feel, not in a concrete way that you can pop a stamp on. While I could spin a good story about not wasting paper, not creating something that will end up as garbage, being ecologically responsible, I think a large part is laziness. I'd spend years designing and making all sorts of cards and loved it. Every holiday was a huge craft project. I'd send out dozens and dozens, rarely hearing back. Email is more gratifying. Easier. I moved to e-cards years ago, can design like mad, hit a button and boom. 

But my mom doesn't know how to check email. 

I didn't send flowers.

We were all here, together, last night and she was in tears missing us all so much. 

I get so wrapped up in my own day-to-day that even though I talk to her all the time, I don't take time to acknowledge her.

I love you mom. I'm so grateful that you're still here. I honor the hardships you've survived and the hard times you have now. I will call back sooner. I will listen with less judgement. I will be more understanding and compassionate. I will step out of where I am to remember how lucky I am to still have my mother here when so many don't. 

Happy mother's day. The card will be in the mail tomorrow.


quin browne said...

I read this with tears. I do write cards and letters still, on good stationary with a fountain pen...years of nuns.

I don't, however, send them out on, once again, my mother will receive her card by Wednesday.

And, she'll understand.

Anonymous said...

I did send flowers with a note from all of us, including the dog... but you hit right on .. I never send those mushy cards any more (because i forget to send them in time). I spend an hour on Saturday search for the cheapest way to send flowers to arrive in time -- Fortunately, they were received on Mother's day (no guarantee), they were in a vase (no guarantee), and they were beautiful and even the card was included. And best of all, her friends were there when she received them ... BUT, I still felt guilty because they were just flowers. Thanks for sharing.