When I was single, I was never offended about the hullaballoo surrounding Valentine’s Day. For me, it was like the launch of the baseball season — something in which I wasn’t vested, but didn’t mind for everyone else.
However, for reasons I’m not sure I understand, I’m becoming less magnanimous about yesterday’s holiday, Mother’s Day. There is an episode of M*A*S*H in which Frank Burns, upset that his former paramour Margaret Houlihan was getting married, went a little bit psycho, as he was wont to do. Radar O’Reilly calmed him down by putting a call through to Frank’s mother stateside. “Sometimes,” Radar said wisely, “I figure a guy’s just gotta talk to his mom.”
Like many boomers, I can’t do that anymore. My mother (above, in 1942) passed away in July of 2003, after a battle with lymphoma. She died on a Monday night, just about the time — if it had been autumn — Monday Night Football would have been ending. She always said that with most football games, all you really needed to see was the fourth quarter. She was practical that way. I thought of her waiting until the end of the fourth quarter and then slipping away.
It’s been almost seven years, but every few months, the irrational thought pops into my head that I should call my mom because I haven’t talked to her for a while. She never really got to see my freelancing career take off; she never walked through the house we live in now and the wonderful garden my spouse has created. My mother loved to garden; she even had a greenhouse when I was a child.
She never met our two current cats. She didn’t get to see her oldest granddaughter get married, and doesn’t know that she has another great-grandson. There is so much that has transpired without her knowledge, and I long to share it.
I have a feeling that I may be a little more sensitive about the topic of Mother’s Day this year, having so recently lost a stepmother-in-law (see Expectations, Interrupted). It is an extremely strange sensation to be running low on mothers. At first, you’re only issued one, but when you get married, you acquire at least one or two more. But then the trend reverses itself, and the feeling — whether Mother’s Day is on the calendar or not — is disconcerting. (I’m sure it’s equally disconcerting for mothers who’ve lost the children who used to wish them Happy Mother’s Day.)
I sit in the middle of the Silicon Valley wonderland that has brought the world so much closer together through technology. I can push a few buttons on my phone and talk to someone on the other side of the world for the cost of a candy bar. But they still haven’t figured out a way to help a guy who’s just gotta talk to his mom.