Motherless Mother’s Day

Mom pregnant with me, and her cat

Mother’s Day can be a loaded holiday for those of us without moms. On this day every year, I am extra aware of not having had a mom for a really long time.

She was 48 and I was 23 when she died. She was 26 when I was born. I’ve had 36 Mother’s Days without her. For 29 of these years I’ve been a mother myself.

Art I created for a book of Mom’s recipes.

I looked at my 23-year-old son recently and had an epiphany, saying, “I was exactly your age when my mom died. Can you imagine?” (Wow, way to be a downer.)

He responded with a hug, and said, “I’d be lost without you, Mom.” My choice to be vegan, to exercise — really, to do everything I can to be healthy — is in part simply so my kids get to have (healthy) me around for as long as possible.

My amazing kids.

I see my friends beginning to lose parents who are in their 80s and 90s. I know it’s still hard and very sad — but I think to myself — wow you had her for 40 more years than I had mine. Lucky you!

My sister, daughter, and a few girlfriends do a great job of being excited about the stuff I imagine only a mom could be enthusiastic about. Like the photo of my newly cleaned, alphabetized spice drawer.

My memories tied to my mom are extra strong around scent. I remember the time a few years ago when I was in my car, stopped behind a yellow school bus, and while looking at the back of the bus, I actually smelled the inside of my grade school lunchbox. That smell of a tuna fish sandwich, Frito corn ships, and cookies (probably Chips Ahoy) was so strong it was like the meal was sitting there in the passenger seat! She made my lunch for way more years than she probably should have — but I loved it.

Gardenias, Shalimar perfume, and brownies baking all take me right to her.

When your mom dies young, you get to kinda turn her into a saint. Of course she would have been the BEST grandma, the super helpful, generous, loving, supportive mom.

When I was in second grade, I was a frog in a school play. I had to hop across a pond that was made of paper. I slipped and fell and was so mortified that I fled crying from the room. Mom came outside after me, and I honestly cannot remember what she did. I’d like to think we just bailed on the stupid play and she took me out for ice cream. Yeah. That’s what happened. She took me to Baskin Robbins for a Jamaica Almond Fudge cone.

Double dip.