And it is Mother’s Day, or Mothering Sunday if you prefer – which my mother emphatically did. Either way, it is a great time to show her that you care – as Amazon, Marks and Spencer and a hundred other companies have been reminding me for weeks now. My mother would apparently be bowled over by perfume, flowers, chocolates, meals out, books, toiletries, balloon rides, bungee jumps or a hundred other wonderful things that would make the multinationals some money. Despite knowing this, I wouldn’t grudge a penny, except that I don’t have a mother, not any more, not for several years now. These annual reminders in my inbox don’t sting the less with the passing of time, which is not to say I think other people shouldn’t celebrate the day because of those of us who no longer can. Quite the opposite. I think they should celebrate the heck out of it and take the opportunity to show those who love them that they love them back.
Each Mother’s Day, I have re-read the letter I sent to my mum when she told me she was dying. It was my last chance to say the things I wanted to. I wish now that I had written her one every year on Mother’s Day because I almost left it too late. I hope that everyone remembers to speak in the midst of joyous life and not only when facing incipient loss. When my mother knew she was dying, she wrote my husband and children a birthday card each for the coming year – and one for me of course. They all opened theirs in turn and read their special message and smiled.
It took me nearly four years to open mine. Once my card had been opened and read, I knew I would never again see my name in her handwriting, never again read something written especially for me. I took out the card each birthday and held it for a while and put it back. When I did finally open it, I wished I had done so earlier. As well as the words of love, it told me not to be too sad, a message I could have used during those first few months. When faced with their own terminal diagnosis, not everybody thinks immediately of others and wants to make sure they will be alright. It is the act of those who truly love. It is the act of a mother.
I have children of my own and when my time comes, I hope I can behave as she did. In that way, my mother’s gift to me will reach beyond her children to my children and to their children, whom she will never meet. I have no one to send a card to this year. I wish I did. But I do have the precious memory of a quintessential act of motherhood and for that, I will always be grateful.