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The Good Ol’ Days: A Special Day

By Staff | May 6, 2016

My mother, Ellen, would have turned 100 a few weeks ago. If you had told her that she would live to be one season shy of a century, it would have been about as believable as telling her that an NDSU quarterback would be the second pick in the NFL draft.

My mother treated me as if I were her only child. Which, as it happens, I was.

This will be the first Mother’s Day since 1948 that I have not been able to honor my mother. No gifts, no cards, no Wind Song perfume, no long-distance phone calls. No flying to Orlando from Kentucky, Alabama, North Carolina or Alaska for the special weekend’s festivities, which usually meant a delicious meal somewhere with Mom and Dad. Sometimes we’d go to a Mother’s Day champagne brunch at a hotel near Sea World, featuring a small combo and a lady singing jazz at one in the afternoon. And buffet lines that branched out enticingly.

Sometimes life takes our mothers from us, because of accident or illness or other circumstance. Sometimes life takes us from them. Sobering accounts from battlefields everywhere tell of young men, lying mortally wounded, calling out to their mothers for one last comforting hug. Sometimes we wait until it’s too late to say “Thank you, Mom”. I’m glad I was able to do so, repeatedly, over the years.

When I was little, my father would supply a card for me to give to Mom. When we three went to Bethany Lutheran on Mother’s Day, we each wore a red carnation, symbolizing that our mothers were still living. Mom began wearing a white one in 1955. Dad’s changed to white in 1966. Mine remained red up until last July, when Mom finally succumbed to Alzheimer’s Dementia and ASCVD (Arteriosclerotic Vascular Disease).

Mother’s Day used to be full of stress for me. I had to pick out a card with just the right words. Mom would discreetly look on the back of my cards, no matter the occasion, to see if it was a Hallmark. When I was in Orlando, my Dad and I would spend up to an hour together in a Hallmark store, each trying to get a card that was just right for the occasion du jour. The skillfully-written words on some of them brought tears to my eyes as I reflected on how much my mother meant to me.

One Mother’s Day found me driving on California’s I-5. I called Mom on my cell phone as I raced along the three-lane wide stretch of surprisingly traffic-free freeway. On another occasion I called from Victoria, B.C. as I was pre-clearing customs to come back to the U.S. My calls had to be at a certain hour, Eastern Time, in order to avoid the “all circuits are busy” message and to avoid calling too early or too late. Children never reverse the charges for their calls to Mom. On the other hand, AT&T reports that the most collect calls of the year are made on Father’s Day.

So, this year, no more guilt, no more stress about buying cards or making phone calls or getting a suitable scent. But, you know what? I’d welcome the stress if it meant just one more Mother’s Day with the dear, patient, generous, loving woman who brought me into this world. I love and miss you, Mom. Happy Mother’s Day!

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