Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day is Not Just For Mothers

by Leann

Today is when we take time to honor one of the most important people in our lives--our mom. We all have or had one, after all. But for some of us, mom wasn't exactly of the storybook variety--all warm and loving and wonderful. I used to read about moms like that as a child and wish. Oh how I wished. But that's history. Over. My mother has been gone for 33 years.

Yet, there was a woman who made all the difference for me as I grew up--my mother's half sister. My beloved Aunt Ruth. She loved me with all her heart and I knew this for as long as I could remember. White haired early in life, pointy chin and always dressed like she was going to church. Not a hair out of place, not a ragged fingernail, not an unkind word for anyone.

My Aunt Ruth hand-painted flowers on a dresser for me, she made me a ballerina costume for Christmas that sent me over the moon with happiness. And cook? That woman could cook. She was the one who gave me a bridal shower with beautiful flowers, chocolate-dipped cookies, finger sandwiches and lots of hugs. She also was my "mother of the bride" and her husband, Uncle Bob, walked me down the aisle. My parents just couldn't make the trip from their home at the time in Brazil. Aunt Ruth and Uncle Bob carefully transported a spectacular wedding cake in their car from Niagara Falls where they lived to Syracuse where I was married. And who was my very first babysitter after my son was born? You guessed it. Aunt Ruth. She was the one who I sent flowers and cards to on Mother's Day. I miss her to this day.

I was lucky to have my aunt-mother. So very lucky. It's not always the title, but the person who made the difference that counts.

What about you? Your mom may have been the special one she should be, but for those of us not so lucky, who was your mom-not-really-your-mom?

18 comments:

Sara said...

I can relate,Leann...and for me it was my Grandma. Between Mom working and later problem w/prescription drugs, I spent a lot of time with Grandma. She was old-school, the oldest of 12 (10 lived to adulthood ) in a family w/o a lot of money. A teacher, she was strict and not the gushing lovey-dovey type of Grandmother in the tv shows...but...she taught me to read before I turned four and by the time I started school I was reading my brother's 5th grade reader & giving him his spelling words. Anyone who knows me can vouch that I am a voracious reader to this day. She let me help in the kitchen & most say I'm a pretty good cook. My first piano lessons were with her & I retired three years ago after 30 years of teaching music. The one thing that didn't "stick" was sewing...lol...but I CAN mend thanks to her. For many years I didn't think she was as loving as the "other" Grandma who showered us with gifts ...instead we knew we'd get pj's or undies. Years later when I was in college I noticed one weekend that every time I came home, Sunday dinner was all ny favorites...fried chicken, baked beans from scratch made w/Grandma's homemade chili sauce & pumpkin pie. That's when it hit me...she'd been showering me with love all those years...just a different kind...and a more lasting and REAL kind. She lived to 101 and I know how lucky I was to have her until I was 45.

Aurian said...

I am glad you had your wonderful aunt Leann. I was never close to my mother, or felt special, but she is all I have.

signlady217 said...

My mom is also one of my best friends. I can't imagine life without her. But there are several other special ladies I have/had in my life so far: my aunt, my maternal grandma, my great-aunt, and my mom's best friend. I also have about half a dozen close friends of my own who I couldn't get along in this life without!

I'm not a mom myself, but I have some friends who kids I just love to pieces, and I hope that some day they can say the same about me as what I feel for the ladies I've had in my life.

Leann Sweeney said...

Sara, sounds like you were as lucky as I was to find someone to nurture you. Aurian, I am glad you are here with us and I offer a loving, motherly hand in your direction. Signlady--you are so very lucky to have such wonderful women in your life!

Janet said...

Thanks to a LOT of therapy I've been able to move on from some of my difficulties with my mother and learn to forgive her. I also believe that we all learn things from our mothers, even if it's what NOT to do. You're right, some of these holidays aren't really made of all of us. It's still difficult to find the right card that's not too "gushy". I am thankful for my mom and my relationship now with her. It's not perfect but then I wasn't a perfect mom to my son even though I tried. I just have to let her be what she is and fill the gaps with friends and other loving people, like you did. Thanks for another perspective, Leann. Janet

Nancy J. Cohen said...

I was fortunate to have a great mom, but on Mother's Day and other holidays, we also invited along my Aunt Frieda. She had no children and regarded us like her own. It gave me pleasure to include her through the years and to be there for her in her final days as her substitute daughter.

Linda said...

I'm not close to my mother and I didn't have any "mother" figure in my life who made me feel special BUT I had my books! I've always lost myself in a good book beginning in first grade with Dick & Jane, moving forward to age 11 & Frenchman's Creek then on to Agatha Christie and all the wonderful cozy writers of today so thank you cozy writers---and Happy Mother's Day!

~ Babs ~ said...

My 4 boys are all adopted the range from 6 months up to 14 years old. My oldest, Ethan remembers his birth mom as he was older and the rest do not. He said, "Momma I know you did not give birth to me, but you are my mom and I love you." Well of course my eyes got misty. He is shy and when he does open up I know it takes a lot for him to do so. I meant the world to me.

For me my mom and my great grandmother were wonderful. I spent a lot of my summers with my great grandmother who taught me how to cook and lots more.
My mom is my best friend who is always there for me.

Katreader said...

I'm lucky to have a great mom. Oh, we have our issues, but that's pretty normal. Growing up we also had Aunt Bert-she was my dad's aunt and always looked after me as well. I'm a mom too, although all my kids have 4 legs and tails-and that's just how I want it!

Leann Sweeney said...

I, too, have forgiven my mother. She did the best she could with the tools she had. Doesn't mean there isn't a scar where that hole in my heart used to be. My own kids are wonderful--all the beautiful flowers they sent me are right where I can see them.

Fiona said...

My Mom passed away three years ago and I still miss her. I'm glad you could find such a warm, loving replacement "Aunt?Mom." It's so important in our formative years to have good role models.

Leann Sweeney said...

I have no "mother figure" now, but I have me. I made myself an egg-free pineapple upside down cake to celebrate the day. (allergic to eggs). I am sorry for your loss, Fiona.

ev said...

We drove up to Syracuse yesterday to take mom out to dinner for today and her b'day which is Monday. She had to work this weekend but usually spends it here with us.

Hope everyone had a great day today!

Annette said...

Leann, I am so happy to hear you had your Aunt Ruth who was always there for you. God Bless her soul, she made a difference in your world.

Leann Sweeney said...

She sure did, Annette. She's been gone several years now, but I can still picture her and I will never forget her.

Lori said...

I, like Sara considered my Grandma my Mother. My Mom was more of a big sister, she passed away last year and my Grandma a couple decades ago. No matter what I consider myself very lucky to have both in my life. Everytime I bake a batch of cookies I think of my Grandma who taught me this skill and so much more. Thank you. I also hope you all found joy in this day.

Tiffany0227 said...

That was so nice to hear, I see so many people leaving comments to other friends saying "Happy Mother's Day". Some people acknowledge me as a stepmom but to me it is not the same. I don't have children yet and desperately want them. 8 years now being a wife and step mom to two and never have they once acknowledged me on this day or "my real special day", my birthday. I have never gotten a card from them, not even hand made. I am not a bad step mother, well I don't think I am. I treat them as if they were my own. I actually have custody of my step son who turns 17 on wednesday the 11th. I have had him for over 3 years now; he was almost 14. I don't even want to get into how bad his "real" mother is. Lets just say that in the whole time we have had him she has seen him maybe 12 times and the really sad part is she only lives 6 miles from here.

But despite that depressed mood, I have been like a mother to my sisters, my nephew, who has been my little angel, because before he came along I was in a really bad place. I also helped raise my friends little girl.

so thank you for saying it is not only for "real" mothers.

Leann Sweeney said...

Tiffany, keep doing what you are doing. It sounds like you have been there for many many people. That's what a mom does--quietly and selflessly. Good for you.