This coming Sunday is Mother’s Day and, as tradition goes, people will spend the day with that special lady. Mothers, Grandmothers, and wives will be treated to cards, flowers, and even a special dinner. But for some of us, that day will be celebrated in remembrance of ones who left this world.
January 5, 2015
My mother died unexpectedly last January; shortly after the start of the New Year. I was already going through difficulties of my own; having been divorced for a year and my children finding other interests than Dear ol’ Dad. I hadn’t talked to any of my family back in Ohio for the last 12 years and although I can list many excuses, the main one is my lack of trying or simple neglect.
In 2015 I was planning on changing all of that by calling my folks after the New Year, bury the hatchet, and catch them up on all that was going on. Yes, I’m sure my mother would give the lecture about the person I chose to marry, the way we raised our family, etc. etc. But at least they would know and I could make sense of my life again.
Instead I am informed that my mother passed away and I’ll never get to say anything to her again. However, I did make amends with my father and sister and I believe we are closer that we have been in the last 20 or so years. Going back to my hometown was a great comfort to my soul in that I needed to reconnect who I once was with who I am now and bring the two halves together to become whole again.
Going Down Memory Lane
My sister and I would talk about all of the things that we experienced together as kids and the way our mother would sometimes react to the things we said or did. We were never troublemakers but we weren’t little angels either.
One of the early things that I recall, though I have no memory of this, is when I first tested for Kindergarten my mother told me that of all the kids that were tested that day, I was the only one who said, “thank you” to the people that were running the testing. I even made the newspaper that day. There’s an article about it in the Advertiser-Tribune, circa 1973. Don’t recall the day or month but I assume ’73 as that would have been when I was five.
My parents were married for 52 years and a big chunk of that time was used for, aside from raising two kids, growing roses. My father once got a rose bush from the bank (for opening an account, I guess) and that was the beginning of a lifelong event of buying, planting, and caring for rose bushes; primarily in our back yard with a few in the front. At last count I think Dad had 350 bushes. And it wasn’t just something to pass the time, he entered Rose shows all over Ohio including our county and State fairs. They made a lot of friends and connections in the world of roses and they brought home many trophies.
Mom was just as much a part of the growing the roses as Dad was and, of course Pam and I were involved (whether we wanted to or not). Mom would always talk about the roses to friends and neighbors and be on hand to show people around while Dad was at work.
Still a mother even on vacation
My parents came out to visit us here in Arizona in May, 2002 as part of their vacation when they drove out here from Ohio stopping along the way and seeing various things.
One of the things I found funny is that even though they were on vacation and visiting us, Mom still showed that she was my mother and parent. In the above picture you can see her vacuuming our living room rug along with our older daughter, Sara. She didn’t like the looks of our rug and wondered when was the last time we vacuumed. It didn’t matter if we told her last week or yesterday, if she didn’t like the look of it, she would get the vacuum out and do it herself.
Even one of their earlier visits out here, when we went up to the Grand Canyon in the Fall she kept trying to get me to button the top button of my coat concerned that I would catch a cold and be sick for days. You may take the mother out of her routine but you can’t take the routine out of a mother.
When I got out on my own, moving out to Arizona to live, primarily to get away from the Ohio winters, I took with me everything that my parents taught me. One of the more significant times for that to be very evident is when my children were born. I would say or do something to them, or about them, and my (then) wife would say, you sound just like your mother. Can’t really give you an example but it shows that she was an influence on me and my life and I’d like to think that I did a pretty good job being a parent because of her.
Even after her death I can still hear her voice speaking her disapproval of something wrong that I did or if a friend would comment about something I would jump in and say my mother would say that.
When I spoke to Pam about coming back for the funeral she assured me that everything was already taken care of and paid for by my mother. My mother was close friends with the family that owned and operated the funeral home where my mother was born and raised and I knew the family as well as we would visit them often. It was like having extended family members overseeing the funeral services and burial.
Anyway Pam said that not only was everything bought and paid for but our mother had the service itself mapped out right down to the music that was chosen. I jokingly said, “With our luck Mom will be standing off to the side of the room making sure that everything went according to plan and would probably wag her finger at someone if they weren’t following the ‘script’.”
This made Pam laugh which is something I’m sure she needed to do. I almost always use humor as a defense mechanism. Can’t say that I got that from Mom but I try to insert it in intense situations. My mother probably would have been shocked if she knew that I flew back to Ohio for her funeral; not having spoken to her in 12 years. And of course she would have to pass away in the winter time to remind me of what Ohio winters were like and why I moved out to Arizona in the first place.
Well I’ll wrap up this post by saying, “Mom, I miss you very much and I’m sorry for everything and anything that I did or didn’t do that put a wedge between our relationship.”
Here’s a poem my sister found on Pinterest, If Roses Grow in Heaven.
And below is an Acrostic Poem that I wrote…
If you have any comments to make about your own mother, feel free to share them here. If you knew my mother, Sally Mentzer, please comment a memory that you recall of her.