This was my status update on Facebook this morning:
Today, I lift a glass to toast my mom. She has been gone since I was in my twenties, but she is so ever present in my heart and my personality. She (and dad) adopted me when I was a baby, but she never let me forget that "she worked damn hard" to get me. Today was her official birthday, but true to form for my mom and her unique style, she wouldn't celebrate her birthday on the same day as D-Day, so she unofficially changed it. Here's to a wonderful mom, who is so often missed!
Immediately my friends started LIKING the status. This tells me two things, I have thoughtful friends and MOMS are popular!
My mom was an unpretentious scholar. She was very loved by students and staff at the university she spent most of her career at. My mom was a tough as nails first generation immigrant. She was a no BS'r and taught me there is no room for excuses. The last thing my mom said in the ICU was to a nurse, "My son is a Vice President!" Mom was very proud of my accomplishment in the business world. My goal had been to hold the title of Vice President by thirty and I beat it by a few years, just in time for my mom to see "her boy had made something of himself".
Then my mom died. I was heartbroken and lost in many ways. I tried to make sense of it all. I had two young sons and she needed to stay to be their grandma. She needed to stay because I needed her. She needed to stay because she was AWESOME! I loved and liked my mom with an intensity that could only come from the fact that we had three years of battling and sadly a year like the cold war, where we both simply avoided each other. Then I called her after listening to a friend tell me how much he hated his mom and I watched as his hatred was all consuming. I realized in that moment that I had a chance to do the right thing, so I called her and told her, no matter what has happened between us, no matter who is to blame, I AM SORRY. Please forgive me. I miss you. Mom cried and asked me to forgive her too. That was about five years before she died, so I had five years of an adult to adult relationship with one of the most fascinating, wonderful individuals I have EVER met; my own mom.
My biggest regret is that my scholarly mom, my English teaching mom, my great listener mom, my champion of anything I endeavored mom, my rock mom, my wonderful, complicated, crazy mom never saw me published. I can think of nothing my mom would have loved more than to see her son in print.
My biggest irony as a published author was that my first book; My Garden Visits, was about her and the eternal imprint that she left. That all moms leave.
I wrote of experiences I thought would be universally comforting to those whose moms had left their earthly bodies and it worked! It works! My book is now out of print, but just yesterday a woman who read it for her book club ten years ago approached me to tell me how the book touched her heart.
So, PLEASE hug your mom today! Call her if a hug isn't possible. Tell your mom specifically what she means to you. I would give a lot to sit with my mom and have one more lunch. I played a game recently where you decide what three people in history that are no longer alive would you most want to have lunch with. Of everyone I could choose my mom was one of them. Seriously, to sit with her for a few hours, physically face to face is one of my biggest wishes. If you still can do so and aren't, please do.
Though the book I wrote about my mom is out of print, you can get it for a few cents on amazon.com. I do plan to see the book uploaded for the Kindle and other eReaders soon.
One day in that garden a very special miracle occurred. Justin felt the loving presence of his mother, who had left this earth five years before. Why had she come? What could her invisible but palpable presence mean?
As he sowed, weeded, and harvested, he listened to his visitor's silent communications and felt the movement of change and growth within himself. In the forget-me-not, he was reminded of the precious uniqueness of his mother -- and every other part of creation. Along with crocuses and daffodil, memories of childhood blossomed. The cycle of garden life impressed upon him the eternal flow of beginning, renewal, loss, and new beginning.
At first, Justin hesitated to mention these mysterious, wordless colloquies, but when he did, family and friends urged him to write about them. So now we have this wonderful book, which invites us into the author's beautiful garden to share the love and wisdom that flowered among poppies and bean poles.