My mother passed away two years ago this month. I have to admit that I’m starting to get used to the idea, but only up to a certain point. It’s simply an irreducible fact that she ought to be here.
I’m reflecting today on the enormous amount of physical labor that Mom performed on behalf of the family. It really was a stupefying load that she gladly carried. Beginning with the feat of bearing 8 children in 10 years, she did 3 loads of laundry almost every day, cooked, cleaned, shopped, ironed, mended, taught, learned, laughed, sang, played the piano, crocheted, and watched movies for decades thereafter. Just typing all that tires me out!
One odd memory comes to mind – sometime early in 1978, I decided to take Mom out to dinner and a movie. I took her to the Renaissance Center in Detroit, which had only been open for a few years at the time. It was (and still is) the tallest building in the city, a gleaming glass cylinder right on the riverfront. We went the Summit, a revolving restaurant at the very top of the building. You could set your watch by your own orbit around the center of the building – it took exactly one hour for the restaurant to make a complete revolution.
I don’t recall what Mom ordered at the Summit, but she was obviously enjoying it greatly. When I remarked on it, Mom stated that she loved eating other people’s cooking, because she so rarely ate outside the home. That was certainly true. During her decades of raising the family, Mom rarely left home unless she was going to our church, to our school, or to the supermarket, and her other journeys outside the home were invariably for practical purposes that were not viewed as opportunities for dining out. Outside of often having pizza delivered on Saturdays, Mom indeed had little opportunity to eat other people’s cooking, which made the evening all the more special.
The movie we attended, at the just-opened Renaissance Center movie theatres, was The Turning Point, starring Shirley MacLaine and Anne Bancroft and featuring the stunning ballet work of Mikhail Baryshnikov in his prime. My mother was a big fan of the classic movie musicals of the 40s and 50s, but since they had stopped making that kind of movie, this seemed like the next best thing. Mom enjoyed the movie, and the whole evening, immensely. It gave me some pretty good memories as well.
So happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there. And to the children who wish to honor their mothers today, I offer this bit of advice: You may never even up the scales between the two of you. She has done you favors and bestowed blessings you can never repay in kind, but today is your day to try!