This last three years I've let Mother's Day slide. Mom passed away St. Patrick's Day 2006 after a stroke a few days earlier (at age 87). Although I was kicked out of the house at 19, my Dad's famous word, "Son, I want you to have a life, just don't have it here.", and joined the military (Vietnam era), I kept in touch with letters and phone calls. I only went home for reunions and funerals. Suffice it to say I wasn't their favorite child (of 3), and as I learned later in life I wasn't planned and left to my own devices for life and learning.
My Mom was a socialite when she was young, and after marrying Dad, became an officer's wife. She revelled in the social scene. She's a people person who wants and needs friends, and her children were just that, children. We had nannies until we came back from England and once we were in school, she showed us everything we needed to get ready for school, how to fix our own breakfast, make our own lunch, get cleaned and dressed, and schedule our time to meet the bus.
She also showed us how to get through life, from cleaning our room and helping around the house with chores. Although she did the work wifes are expected to do, she only liked it when she was preparing for parties, and when Dad retired from his first career to start another, she went to work for her own career, becoming his equal in the terms of position and pay. She also put the rest of life learning on us to become self-sufficient.
When Mom retired, and after Dad retired for the second time, she became a social person again, joining clubs and doing volunteer work. Simply to be around people and enjoy friends. She even left Dad to his own devices. When Dad passed away, and after the estate was settled, she moved into a condominuim to simplify life and be around people. Until my sister and her family moved back to Montana, where she moved.
And can't know the details of her life there, but I gathered from the calls it wasn't what she wanted nor liked, but accepted as my sister was the last of her family, except me who wasn't around and didn't like travelling anymore. She suffered a stroke March 14th and lapsed into a semi-conscious state, and according to my sister, never fully regained consciousness. She passed away quietly the morning of the 17th, was cremated and then buried two months later next to Dad.
When my sister, being the executor of the estate, settled everything she sent me a copy of the will, because I wondered why all I got was the small life insurance. The will explicitly stated that I was to recieve nothing of the family estate. It turned out that since my sister (and parents in the mix) and I have issues with each other, I didn't attend her son's funeral (suicide). Mom never let me know she was hurt and she never understood why my sister and I disagreed throughout our lives on almost every issue.
Anyway, parents are an interesting mix of people and parents. I saw them as people and they wanted me to see them as parents. But how can you when they made your life lonely and miserable? And then come home when they want you to and show your love? For all the guilt they piled on? I know a lot is my own doing, but I'm not entirely to blame, everyone else in the family can stand in line and take some of it to balance it between them and me.
So, in the end, Mother's Day has always been a day of mixed feelings. While I celebrated what she did for me, what she taught me, even though some of it wasn't intentional, and for what she gave me, I can't help but still find my love for her has reservations. The old adage, "I love you (pause), but..."