The Next Day
Published in

The Next Day

A Motherless Mother’s Day

Photo by Daniel McCullough on Unsplash

My mother died over thirty years ago when I was 19. Considering that I lived a significant amount of my adulthood without her, I have become accustomed to the lack of her presence and manage most days with only a minor twinge of missing her. There are times, however, when living without her is especially painful, and the weekend of Mother’s Day is one of those times.

Mother’s Day weekend carries reminders everywhere that I’m motherless. Reading my e-mail is especially straining as it seems everyone wants to remind me it’s Mother’s Day weekend. Even Words With Friends sent me a reminder e-mail that Mother’s Day is coming up.

Usually on Mother’s Day weekend, I will do something special in my mother’s memory. One year, my family did the Susan G. Komen Race for a Cure. Sometimes I will prepare a special dinner or breakfast in her honor. We often like to visit special places she liked, like Exposition Park.

This year is a challenge because I am sick with a virus, and I have a broken ankle. This means no racing anywhere. Also it means that I likely won’t be doing any major cooking. My inability to do these things makes me miss my mother even more.

When I feel like this, I try to recall the gifts my mother gave me. There may have been days when I went without food, but my mother never failed to nurture my intellectual curiosity. I was her only daughter, and because of that, I felt that I had a special connection with her that no one else had. I affectionately remember nights when she’d bake teacakes, and she and I would sit at the table and just talk. She told me what it was like to grow up in Louisiana. I told her most of what was going on with me, but never everything. I have yet to tell anyone everything.

Nonetheless, my mother was my best friend, and the day she died was the worst pain I ever experienced in my life. I thought I would never get over it. I have to admit that it took several years for me not to randomly burst into tears when I saw something that reminded me of her.

Now, when I am reminded of my mother, I think of the many gifts she gave me. I owe my strength and strong sense of empathy to her. I owe my love of research to her. We were poor, but we had something like four sets of Encyclopedias and shelves and shelves of books. My mother and I were constantly researching the many questions I had for her. She was one of the smartest people I’ve known.

One of the gifts she left me was a love for classic movies and Bette Davis. One day I came home from school crying because some kids called me “bug eyes”. When I told my mother about this, she responded immediately, “You don’t have bug-eyes. You have Bette Davis eyes.” This led to our watching an endless amount of Bette Davis movies, and Barbara Stanwyck movies, and Joan Crawford movies, and Elizabeth Taylor movies, and Lauren Bacall movies and Audrey Hepburn… These women were my heroes. I love that my mother exposed me to such wonderful characters in these movies.

While it is often painful to think that she’s gone, or to think that my children never had the opportunity to know her, I am often reminded of how much of her I was given, and I am grateful to have so much of her personality in me.

This weekend, I am going to catch up with a classic movie, watch it, and try to remember how much fun my mother and I used to have when we used to watch them. I will also try to remember that at this point, Mother’s Day should be more about the fact that I’m a mother than about the fact that I lost one.

Katerina Canyon is a writer currently living in Seattle, Washington. She served as Poet Laureate of Sunland-Tujunga, California from 2000 to 2003. She has a MALD from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and a BA in English, Creative Writing, and International Studies from Saint Louis University. She has been published in the New York Times and Huffington Post. Her most recent poetry was published in Black Napkin. Her latest collection Changing the Lines is currently available on Amazon and Elliott Bay Book Company. You can learn more about Katerina at



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