Mother’s day without a mom



When distance keeps us apart on special days, find alternative ways to connect online through Skype, Google Hangout or FaceTime where you can see and talk to each other. © Thinkstock

My mother passed away at age 66 in our home after nearly a year of cancer treatment. It was too soon. I was just 38 and had many plans for shared activities with her. Life kept me busy with a full-time teaching job during her final year, yet I was grateful for the opportunity of caring for her, and we grew closer than ever.

Those first weeks after her passing, I grieved deeply, weeping and mourning Mom’s loss. I prayed for something positive on which to focus so I could begin the healing process. Unexpectedly my husband and I learned a few weeks later I was pregnant! My sorrow turned bittersweet; I loved the feeling of cherishing new life. But I grieved my dear mother would not be there to share my pregnancy and offer advice as she had done with my previous sons’ births.

Three months later my doctor told us I would need a cerclage, stitching the cervix closed to keep from miscarrying. While recovering on bed rest afterward for two weeks, a friend brought a dear older lady to visit, armed with a pan of lasagna and offers to babysit the boys whenever I needed a break. A new relationship was formed that day that eventually blossomed into a surrogate mother-daughter bond. The widowed Mrs. Grey nurtured our family and filled some of the gaps left by my mother’s premature death. We took rides in the country, went out for dinner and attended plays. She watched the children occasionally and brought dinner when my father passed away a few years later. Gone now, Rose Grey will always be part of our warmest family memories. Every woman who has lost her mother should have a second mom like our dear friend—one that can be given special recognition and honor when Mother’s Day rolls around.

Mother’s Day is a special holiday to commemorate the role mothers play in our lives. Each year thousands of dollars are spent on greeting cards and boxes of treats, floral deliveries and restaurant meals; but what about families who are temporarily or permanently motherless? Anyone can celebrate Mother’s Day even without a mom.

Some mothers will not be home on Mother’s Day. With more women in busy careers, many are away on business during Mother’s Day weekend. Some may be caring for a sick parent in another state. Others are scheduled to work the holiday in restaurants and hospitals. Children can surprise her on her lunch break at work with a picnic or have dinner ready and the house cleaned when she gets home, whether it’s that evening or the following week.

Every woman who has lost her mother should have a second mom like our dear friend – one that can be given special recognition and honor when Mother’s Day rolls around.

Extended absences make it challenging to celebrate Mother’s Day. Some mothers are serving overseas in military operations. Preparing a gift box with her favorite things and mailing it to arrive by the holiday will make everyone feel good even when the family cannot be together. Letters, cards, photos and drawings as well as social networking and Skype conversations help to forge connections between the long-distance mom and her brood.

Even death should not be an obstacle to this classic holiday, as was the case for me. When a mother of still-young children has passed away, Dad and the kids can arrange a dinner in her honor by serving her favorite foods and sharing fond memories of time spent with each family member. Arranging photos of the mother, along with mementos like a piece of jewelry or a favorite possession, adds a meaningful time to the holiday observation. For some, a visit to one of the mom’s favorite places, or alternatively, the cemetery, may prompt thoughtful reflection on good times in the past. It may also foster a sense of continuity or closeness to the deceased mother.

Mother surrogates should be remembered, too. In families where there has been no mother for some time, a grandmother, aunt, or beloved neighbor may be celebrated instead, especially one who has helped to care for the children. Going to the theatre or having dinner together is a nice way of showing appreciation for the motherly representative on this meaningful holiday.

Remembering the past is a way to celebrate the present and preserve memories for the future. An absent mom can be commemorated by a family activity that made her happy, such as a weekend camping trip or a local fair she used to love. Watching her favorite movie or enjoying her unique dessert can leave everyone with a warm glow recalling Mom’s legacy.

Mother’s Day is not just about the here and now. It’s about remembering the woman who gave us birth, the one who raised us and the ones who continually offer encouragement and support when a biological mom cannot be present. Make this holiday extra meaningful by celebrating the woman—or women—whose influence is undeniable and unforgettable.

DEBRA JOHANYAK is a freelance writer from Ohio.


About Author

Leave A Reply