This morning, I followed a link to a Mother’s Day contest sponsored by the Selah Independent, a local newspaper in central Washington (state), and noticed that out of the eighteen elementary school finalists — all of whom wrote lovingly about their mothers — this was the grand prize winner:
“Dear Mom, Mommy you use to buy me stuff a lot. I loved it when you massaged my back. It feals good. You are the best mom. You tuck me in my bed. You took me to the mall. I liked to play roly poly at bedtime. We laid on the floor and rolled real fast. We laughed. I miss you a lot, a lot, a lot. What is it like in heaven? How are you doing up there?” – Bella
So sad, a motherless daughter, so young. Undoubtedly, her situation affected the judges, too. I lost my own mother when I was 29–Jen was four. I felt cheated then, so I can’t imagine how hard it is at ten. In the years that followed, I’d suddenly be overcome with emotion at the loss–for example, if I walked by her old apartment building or watched a movie in which a woman died. Special occasions were the hardest. I lost it at my son’s Bar Mitzvah, and at Jennifer’s wedding, I sobbed at the mention of loved ones who were not there to celebrate with us.
I can’t say I had a stellar relationship with my mother, Henrietta. It was distant but not argumentative, and she was “old” when she had me (35 was old in those days). But I never doubted that she loved me (I was “the baby”). We couldn’t have the kind of conversations I now have with my own daughter, but she was my mother nonetheless. While she was alive and even after she died, I was lucky to find a bevy of othermothers I could depend on, such as my eleven-years-older sister, certain aunts, and even some friends who fit that bill. I hope that little Bella is just as fortunate.
At left: My first and dearest othermother–my older sister–is appropriately at the center of this ten-year-old photo of the “best girls,” as we call ourselves, our daughters and grandaughters. I named this shot for that great movie, Antonia’s Line.
If this post evokes memories of great women in your life, it’s not too late. Remember the “everyday-should-be-mother’s-day mantra,” and take a moment to tell your mother and/or othermothers how grateful you are! It’s better than sending a letter to heaven! While you’re at it, plan an afternoon or evening together and rent Antonia’s Line.