Mother’s Day is perfectly gorgeous here in western Massachusetts: perfect May weather. Our early lilacs are brightening up the landscape, and a few apple blossoms and daffodils remain.
In church this morning our minister, Cara, suggested everyone quietly name a mother who deserved remembering on this special day. I mentioned my mother, Jan (a.k.a. Taffy) and then heard my neighbor Alice softly say the name of her own mother.
Alice’s mother Mary Parker (whom we all called Gam) was a grandmother figure to all of us children in the neighborhood, one of the strong inspiring women of my youth. She was admirable, funny, and fierce.
Hearing that name made me think of so many other mother figures I celebrate today, including Gam.
I recalled my own grandmothers, Clara and Sarah, as well as my beloved aunts, Lura, Selma, and Connie.
I recalled my godmothers, Kay (who was named poet laureate of the state of Delaware) and Dody (who SHOULD have been named poet laureate of French film and key-lime pie). Both went to college with my mother.
I recalled my mother’s other close college chums—smart, fun women who taught me a lot about female friendship: Sylvia, Riley, Giff, and Bobby.
I recalled my mother’s other smart close friends: her partner in business, Claire; her partner in singing, Bobbie; and her partners in bridge and neighborhood gossip, Randy and Annie.
I also recalled some of the female teachers who have made a difference to me: Helen, who taught Sunday school and encouraged my personality (not that it needed a huge amount of encouragement); Bebe and Ma’am, my second- and fourth-grade teachers in two very different corners of the world; Penny, who taught me to play chords on the piano and to love music always; and Desley, Shelley, and Janet, who helped me survive graduate school.
It made me sad to realize that of all of these women only a few survive. Most of the teachers are still around, and my Aunt Lura is still with us. My mother, our other relatives, and most of my mother’s friends (except for the redoubtable Claire and Bobbie) are gone.
Nevertheless, my overall feeling was and is one of celebration that I am lucky enough to have been cradled by so many remarkable women over the course of my life.
I hope to continue to find mother figures as I age. (Someday I will have to turn 40.) And I hope to serve as a surrogate mother to others in their life journeys.
I realize that most of my readers are busy celebrating Mother’s Day today—but if you’re reading this at any time please take a moment to leave a comment below naming a mother figure who has helped shape you.
Writing her name and recalling her influence on you will make you feel mothered all over again. I promise!
Happy Mother’s Day … today and every day.