Saturday, May 8, 2010

Homage to Mom

Finding a significant way to honor one’s mother isn’t the easiest task.

If you’ve been fortunate enough to have a good mother, there’s no gift you can buy sufficient to alleviate the guilt of not being able to do more. For those who haven’t had a good mother, the task is no easier because you’re exposed to a plethora of emotions in regret of such misfortune.

The second Sunday in May is the date selected for Americans to remember their mothers by some act of gratitude, a practice mirroring an earlier European custom, Mothering Sunday, where children give small tokens to their mothers. The traditional gift in many parts of Europe is a bunch of violets, the symbol of faithful love.

Perhaps such a token remembrance is the best course to follow since most of us would be hard-pressed to find anything to accurately respond to the love of a mother. Indeed, even the name “mother” can be seen as a form of veneration, since its Sanskrit root is “origin” or “source” of life.

Personally, I’m grateful to have had the kind of mother whose love can’t be repaid in ample proportion. We lost Mom on March 28, 2008, at the advanced age of 100. Even in her final years her energy belied her age and put to shame many who saw half as many summers. After a lifetime of work, both in the home and in area factories, retirement was a concept and not a reality.

The eldest daughter in a family of nine, she learned early responsibility and hard work. She possessed a multitude of talents that could not be learned in any school but life—and I don’t mean just culinary and household skills, though she excelled in those as well. She inherited a love of travel from her vagabond father and proved a boon companion on many a jaunt.

An eternal optimist with an indomitable spirit, she was always an inspiration in times of discouragement. Though distance separated us at the time, my efforts to raise two children as a single parent could not have been as successful without her constant support and advice.

She was always a liberal, open to new ideas and unafraid of change, but one guided by solid principles from which she never veered. If she had any vice it was a streak of stubbornness that brooked no interference with the goals she set for herself.

She was always the primary booster and supporter of any enterprise in which my sister and I engaged and, later, offered the same encouragement to her four grandchildren and four great-grandsons. We all miss you Mom.

This, then, is a small token of appreciation for all those mothers whose devotion didn’t end when their children left home.