With Mother’s Day coming up this weekend, a trip to the card display was in order. As everyone knows, just any card won’t do for your mother. Not for the wonderful person who gave birth to you, nurtured you, fed you, cured the pain on your bruised shin, and overall gave you the unconditional love and warmth and feeling of security that let you grow and bloom into the adult you have become.
This choice requires pulling innumerable cards from the rack and spending a few, or maybe more, moments reading each one, thinking and turning the written words over in your mind to see if they satisfy that special essence or nuance that best captures the feeling and spirit of what you want to say to her.
For those whose mothers who have severe dementia and must reside in a convalescent home, the choices in the display seem oddly out of place. They send a twinge of pain to your heart. They remind you of what she is not, instead of what she is.
The first one pulled has a superwoman picture and says, “You do the most amazing things.” That might work for a high schooler with a soccer mom, but for a mother who can barely walk, and cannot make sense when she talks, and needs full care, all day, every day, it just reminds you she is long past doing amazing things.
The second is an auditory joke card for youngsters which reads, “Motherhood, it’s just one joy ride after another.” When opened up, the audio blares out a car full of squabbling kids shouting, “Mom, mom, mom.” The joke falls flat even though you undoubtedly remember those noisy car trips with your brother and sister. Put that one back.
A third is the “reward” card. It reads, “Take a little time for yourself today. Relax and take it easy.” It’s ironic because all mom has is time, sitting, with everything done for her. But she no longer understands the concept of leisure. Reject that one.
Another states, “Share a laugh.” Presumably over some long ago memory of a funny family event. Back in the rack, as it stabs your conscience. “She has no memory of the funny event, even if reminded.” We can’t share that laugh.
Then, there is the inevitable Snoopy card. This one says, “You’re the glue that keeps the family together.” You think, boy am I fortunate that we kids all get along, but you know that mom is no longer that glue. It’s just another reminder that life’s passage has eclipsed her active role.
Yet another says, “Wishing you the simple joys of sweet memories.” The irony here is piercing, because mom no longer enjoys most any memory, sweet or not. The wistful feeling of some memory of youth courses through your mind as you linger over that card, then gingerly put it back. You decide, it’s not quite right because it is no longer her memory, just yours.
Then you pick out a card that says on the front, “Being a mom takes patience, compassion and understanding.” Inside it says, “and at least one kid.” You think, hey, that’s a bit funny. But the attraction is not in the light humor. It’s in the heartfelt “Being a mom takes patience, compassion and understanding.” And you realize the card is speaking to you, because those are the wonderful qualities you feel to your core about her, and you realize those are the same qualities you now need to comfort and ease her through the time she has left. And patience, compassion and understanding for that mother you love is all you can give this Mother’s Day.
And this is my Mother’s Day card. Happy Mother’s Day!