Let's see, what would I do for my beloved mother if she were alive today?
What gifts might I wrap up? What other gestures could I extend to her as a show of love and appreciation?
Rarely a day passes that I don't think about, or talk about, my mother, the shepherd of my life, and the best girlfriend a girl could want. But on Mother's Day, the thoughts seem to intensify and are strong enough to bring wet eyes or even a tear or two that drop gently on my cheeks.
Not long ago a high school friend admitted that she envied me in school and it wasn't because of clothes, grades, or anything about school. She envied my relationship with my mother when I told her, between classes, how much fun we had had the night before.
Did I love my mother more than most people do? Of course not. Was she the best mother in the world - as I have said since her death but perhaps didn't say nearly often enough when she was alive? Hazel was indeed special, but millions of mothers today are being declared the best in the world. I hope they are hearing those words.
Annually, I bought seven cards to mail the week preceding the second Sunday in May. The cards, one for each day of the week, were both funny and serious with frills and flowers. I wrote a message on each card and she lined them on the old sideboard and dusted around them for weeks.
Warm hugs and I love you's would have probably meant more. Did I do that enough?
So back to the question: What would I do for her today, Mother's Day 2001?
The celebration would have to have started last night at a very nice restaurant. Mother didn't eat out very often, but when she did, it was a real treat and if the food was different enough she would try to re-create it at home, usually with little success. I remember as a child that we occasionally drove to Toledo to eat at Zimmerman's, which was behind the old Paramount Theater. She never mastered the corn sticks served there, which, of course, made it a good reason to return.
The dinner would have to conclude with pie. Ours is a pie family and I believe that my mother baked better pies than any other family member. Ordering pie in a restaurant only opened the door for her critique. I can't even think about mother's thick elderberry or thick cream-filled lard crusts without my mouth watering.
After her death I saved four quarts of green tomato mincemeat destined for pies. But, alas, I saved them so long I had to throw them out, which should be a lesson to all sentimentalists.
Of course I would stay overnight at mother's so that we could talk into the wee hours about many things, though she had a way of redirecting all conversations back to me and to my activities, goals, and problems. How often she advised that most of the things we worry about never happen. How true.
There would be gifts at breakfast this morning for her to unwrap so that she could say I shouldn't have spent the money on her and she didn't need a thing. And there would be flowers and candy.
But, the best way that I could ever wish my mother a Happy Mother's Day would be to take the time to tell her how much her early shepherding meant. A single mother long before it was fashionable, she worked many hours in our rooming house and away from home. I would thank her for a work ethic that I inherited, though I fiercely fought it when it was time to paint the porches or scrub the wallpaper and my friends were going roller skating.
I would thank her for the laughter and the fun we had together and even for the tough times growing up poor and living in three cramped rooms.
And, I would thank her for instilling a curiosity that still runs rampant in my spirit and for asking, with emphasis, from the time I was 8 years old if I had my notebook and pencil to write down what I had seen and what I thought about it.
Sometimes it's uncomfortable and easier to put off flowery phrases until another Mother's Day. But another Mother's Day may never come.
Today, 43 years after her death, I still miss her as I place the box of pansies, her favorite flower, in the country cemetery by the tombstone that is engraved, “God's greatest gift, returned to God, my Mother.”
Mary Alice Powell is a former Blade food editor. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.