My brother was born the day before Mother's Day in 1968, on May 11. She always joked that he was the perfect present. When he grew up, his only child, a son, was born on my mother's birthday, Nov. 1. It was pretty special, and by far the best birthday present she ever got. This formed a strange kind of triangle for us all when she died on May 11, 2004.
That day I called my brother and he spent his birthday driving as fast as he dared on a motorcycle for 3 hours trying to get home in time to be there. He didn't make it in time, and I spent those hours feeling horrible because I hadn't called him sooner. I should have insisted he come sooner. I should have known this was it. I should have.......if only..........maybe I could have............well. It's just a thing I have, a heartache you could say, that is still tied to my raft on the river of life. I've let it out so that it follows a distance, I've set it on fire and even filled it full of bullet holes, but I have yet to cut that particular heartache loose. I am working on it.
That was 9 years ago, and yet every time I pick up the phone to call him on THAT DAY, it all comes back to me. I tell myself that I just have to keep doing it, and eventually it will not be strange anymore. Eventually we will have more memories of it not being THAT DAY, and it won't be strange anymore. Because I'm THE OLDER SISTER and our dad never could remember our birthdays, even when we were little, and I cannot just let his birthday pass without calling. That would be.........unacceptable to my mother. This is what I tell myself, and I think it's probably what my brother tells himself, too. After 9 years it's still hard for me to make the call, and I am afraid it's still hard for him to get it, because usually I leave a message and he calls me back. The next day. I guess we will never get over THAT DAY, but I also know that on THAT DAY we are both aware, every second, of what day it is. We have no need to actually talk to each other, we are brother and sister. No words are necessary.
Thankfully, I have 4 children, plus a bonus daughter and 2 pretend grandchildren who made my Mother's Day this year much easier to get through.
Friday night the boys and my other "adopted" 4th son decided to help my get some limbs cut and make a bonfire in the backyard. I did pretty well when I came out to find one cutting limbs that the other one in the tree above the limb. I took it in stride. Don't look a gift horse in the mouth is my motto, so I acted like it was all normal. It was a big jump, without the lower limbs, for the one up the tree, but boys will be boys and there were no injuries. It was a good day. We roasted hot dogs and made s'mores and sat around the fire till late, when it had burned down so that we didn't have to worry about setting the neighborhood on fire. Those boys told me that was my mother's day present and I told them it was THE BEST present ever!
The next day I made meatballs, marinated in the blues by Stevie Ray Vaughan, and took them to my bonus daughter's reception for graduating college. So exciting!! The Beautiful Redhead was supposed to be at the reception, but was not, despite repeated text messages. Just as I was about to leave she called and said she had fallen asleep but was awake now and wanted me to come there. This is so.........her. And I love her. And she is my only daughter. So I drove to her apartment and we went to the Olive Garden, even though I had just eaten, and we had a really good time, just us girls. She had to work Mother's Day anyway and couldn't come home for the actual day, so this was good. It was good mostly because I was really tired, had had a late night, early morning, busy day, and still an hour and a half before I would be home and able to collapse.
This brings us to Mother's Day, when The Rock Star was coming with his beautiful and wonderful girlfriend. They brought me candy and we got some time at home without the house being full or me having to cook, which is the perfect Mother's Day in my book.
After they left I sat and drank in the quiet and realized that I could relax now. It was over. I told Mom I had made it through another one, but that it was just never going to be the same as it used to be.
She smiled her quiet smile and said "That's true. But you already knew that a long time ago, babe."
That's what being a mother means. Going on, even when you don't want to, carrying all your memories and making more and never letting anyone know any different. It's just the way life works, when you're a mom.