Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day


My mother's hair never fell out when she was taking cancer treatments for the pancreatic cancer that killed her.

I thought of this just this morning, thinking about it being Mother's Day. My husband had a movie on TV, something about dying young, with a young man with a bald head covered by a smart cap. I saw the image as I walked through the living room.

And I remembered how my grandmother told me she knew that the cancer treatments weren't helping my mother, because she did not go bald.

My mother passed away in 2000. She was 56 years old. Just seven years older than I am today.  It hardly seems possible, both that she died so young and I am so old.

As the years have passed I think of her in different ways. As I am of a certain age, I see better and understand better the things she said and did. When I was young, I misinterpreted many things, but other things I did not. I feel wiser about my relationship as I grow older. More settled with it.

She will remain rather timeless, having died while she was still relatively beautiful, with few wrinkles and having not yet worn out her body, sick as it was. I think of her as being like a princess in a Snow White sort of way. Only of course there is no kiss to bring her back.

When I was a child, I brought my mother dandelions for flowers on Mother's Day because I loved the weed and thought she should, too. I remember her exasperation as she told me it was not a flower to love, and my sadness as she tossed the blossoms into the trash.

To this day, I still love dandelions.

I have long hated Mother's Day, mostly because I was not able to become a mother. It's an annual reminder of that great let-down in my life, a yearly stab in the heart. I daresay few people think about that, how the day might affect those of us who were unable to procreate.

But today is a pleasant Sunday, in spite of the pending rain and the whirling sound of cicadas. The cows are calling softly to their babies; they are good mothers.

The memory of my mother this morning is bittersweet. The cancer treatments did not work. She kept her hair. The suffering was for nothing.

I guess you have to try.

Happy Mother's Day.


  1. Yes, as we grow older, I think we tend to see our mothers differently than we did when we were younger. The unfortunate part, at least for me, is that fences were never mended as strong as they should have been. I felt the same way about my mother and her chemo treatments for pancreatic cancer...they weren't working. She too didn't lose her hair and died the same year as your mom.

    Although I could understand your regret, I've always felt that just because someone didn't "birth" a child, that doesn't mean they haven't been a "mother" to others. I'd bet you've filled that role better than some women who have given birth.

  2. Aw, I am sorry you lost your mother when you and she were both so young. I was just thinking the other day that my dad died at age 70 and would now be almost 82. And so they remain forever the age when they leave. And that is a bit strange, I think.

    I don't think treatments for pancreatic cancer are very effective today either, and so it is a monster that takes lives of loved ones.

    Mother's Day hug for you:-)

  3. My mother did lose her hair, her beautiful red hair, and she still suffered terribly and died. But I think your grandmother just probably knew.

    I often think of women who can't have children. I bet a lot of people think about it but we don't say anything because we don't want to upset you--"How come you didn't have any children?" Pearl, my neighbor in Virginia, didn't have any children. I will bet she wanted them. I can tell the way she is around her great niece and around Kelly. I was always curious but afraid to ask because I didn't want to make her sad. And you can't assume we all want the same thing so I don't know. But now I know you wanted them. I bet it's especially hard for you on Mother's Day. I told myself today that at least I have my daughters. That helped. It must be harder for you.

  4. Loren Bruffey JrMay 14, 2012 11:58 AM

    What a great tribute to Mom. Thanks for this.
    AS to the not having children..........In my opinion, the world is a much better place with you in it as you are. The demands children place on you are unreal. We would not get to enjoy your blogs, your writings and photos. Your poetry. Your education opportunites that you worked so hard for would have been penalized. Your absolutly wonderful marriage to James (which I greatly envy!!!) may not have been as it is now. Kids make life completly different. While I have no regrets (to a point) about having children, I do know that my life would have been entirely different without them. Not to take anything away from you for wanting to be a Mother, I feel you would have been a great Mom, I don't want to imagine a world where myself and others do not get to "feel" what you have to say through your blogs and writings. Checking out your blog is my daily fix of happiness as I know there will always be something on here to make me laugh or smile.
    Love ya!


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