Last night at dinner, my friend, Martin, sighed and said, “I guess I should go see my mother on Sunday.” I nodded. “Yes, as it’s Mother’s Day, that might be the thing to do.”
“But she’s such a pain in the butt – always complaining, always pushing me. She cross-examines me about what I eat, tells me I am too fat, always has something to say about my brothers.”
“Still, you should go.”
“The nursing home is an hour away.”
“I’d rather go and dance.”
“My brothers are going – she doesn’t need me.”
“I thought you were her favorite.”
“Well, that’s what she says – probably tells the others the same thing when I am not around.”
“Whoa, that’s a little bitter – maybe she’s trying to be fair.”
“Fair? I’m the eldest and got all the crap.”
“How old are you?”
“And you still blame your mother.”
“I do not. “ He said, his voice full of anger.
I sighed. So many supposedly grown up people are full of resentment and anger at their parents as if they were still teenagers.
“I’m not going,” he said drinking from his glass of red wine.
“How old is she anyway?”
There was a pause, the usual New York text and email checking silence. I suddenly felt terribly sad.
“Consider the alternative,” I said
“What do you mean?”
“Well, your mom might be a nuisance.”
“She might not be here next Mother’s Day.”
“She’s in perfect health.”
“So are you.”
“What’s your point?”
I found myself choking up and swallowed hard.
“What if you could never see her again after Sunday?”
A tear rolled unwelcome down my cheek. “Mine’s been dead for three years. The last Mother’s Day, we had chicken soup and watched movies – she was recovering from pneumonia and was too sick to even sit up. Too sick to talk. I sat by her bed, and we held hands. We watched Law and Order re-runs for 10 hours.”
“So you were close?”
“Not since I was very young.”
“ We decided to make up and be friends when she got sick after her brother and my stepfather died.”
“Yes, there are two kinds of people in this world: Those who define themselves by who loves them, and those who define themselves by who they love. I think growing up means defining yourself by who you love. Not sure really about my mother loving me so much, but I was sure I wanted to be a daughter who loved her mother.”
“Deciding whether or not to love your mother is a choice?”
“Perhaps – but the real choice lies in the expression of your feelings.”
“What if I could never see her again?” He finished the wine, and waved to the waiter to bring the bill. “What if?” He thought about it. “It’s really a no-brainer, isn’t it?”
He poured out the last of the wine into our two glasses. “To your mother, and her good daughter.” We clinked glasses and drank.
“So are you going?”
“With bells on.”
So my advice – if you are lucky enough to have your mother around, do the best by her – there may never be another chance.
Happy Mother’s Day!
copyright®2014 Marilyn Horowitz