It’s Mother’s Day here in the United States. On this day, I think about my grandmother Elizabeth, my mother Donna, and my mother-of-the-heart, Ruth. My relationship with my mom is sometimes complicated, because we are two very different people. She’s much more traditional than I am, just for starters. She is more quiet and traditionally feminine. I have always been something of an iconoclast, even from childhood — and far preferred big and bold to cute and dainty. Until the day I moved out on my own, my mom wanted to fit me into the more traditional mold of femininity … and it took a long time and a lot of work to get the point where I no longer accepted that expectation.
My grandmother and Ruth, on the other hand, thought I was just fine the way I was. Grandma always dressed to the nines, even when she wasn’t going anywhere … because you never knew who might come by. She had a vast array of colors in her wardrobe, and very little black. I took that lesson to heart when I gave up wearing black and decided to change my wardrobe.
I accepted the idea that I was always going to like big, bold jewelry and rich colors, and that anyone who thought I was too “flashy” (a word my mother used to describe those who dressed in a way she thought a little too loud) could just look the other way. My mom has come to accept that I’m happy as I am, and that’s great.
Ruth was a historical reenactor who had once been a bank VP and was a homemaker when I met her. Ruth wore what felt comfortable for the health problems she had developed, and that was a lesson I took home when I began to have health problems of my own. Ruth took people as they came, and had a raucous laugh that accompanied her stories about some of the places she’d seen and the people she met over the course of her professional career. She passed away several years ago, as did my grandmother.
Three very different women, each of them with a different kind of influence on me. What they all had in common was a love for animals, and a desire to help others. Otherwise, they were as different as cheese and chalk … but I love them all.
Our kiddo is thirty; we’re empty-nesters. I fully expect I’ll get a call or an e-mail later today, as he’s on the opposite coast. I’ll phone my mom later as well. It’s good to hear both of their voices any time.
In honor of the day, I share a song to which all parents can relate: “Mom’s Lullaby,” by Seamus Kennedy. Happy Mother’s Day to one and all!