Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Day Before Mother’s Day
          I sit at my desk and it is covered with the most urgent projects you can think of. But today is Mother’s Day, and I feel an even greater need to acknowledge it than those things in front of me. Tonight my husband will make dinner for me, my mother M, and my daughter L. My mother is 77-years old and has lived in Las Vegas for about six years. She has her own apartment, does not drive, and has become comfortable living in a 55-years and older complex. I call everyday and go over at least once a week. I write her bills for her and make sure she has what she needs.
          Yesterday morning, the day before Mother’s Day, I went to Whole Foods to pick something up for Mother’s Day dessert (I agreed to make this part of the meal). It was a typical beautiful Las Vegas morning, blue sky, temperate air, mountains in the horizon. I was out relatively early and had that yummy feeling that it would be a productive day. Outside a vendor was selling hot dogs. A woman in her late 30s was asking her two young girls if they wanted to share one. “Yes,” they giggled. The woman’s mother, a 60-something, well dressed and energetic woman, called out as she grabbed a cart, “Get two, we’ll share one too.” The woman replied, “No, we’re having dolmades.” They continued on.
          By the time I entered the store I had an overwhelming feeling of sadness, and when someone I knew wished me a happy Mother’s Day, I almost burst into tears. The poignancy of the exchange I witnessed hit home deeply. That woman was me. When she said, “No, we’re having dolmades,” I knew exactly what she meant: “ It’s Mother’s Day, we’re spending time with the kids, we agreed we'd do something special and eat dolmades, dolmades are better than hot dogs, I want dolmades.”

          Through the years my version of “We’re having dolmades” has evolved from first person plural to second person singular “You.”  I now find myself saying, “You have to eat well, you have to go to the trainer at the gym that I pay for, you have to take the vitamins I bought for you, you have to keep in touch with your doctor, you have to walk everyday so your old muscles don’t atrophy, you have to stay organized and constructive, you need a quality life and all that it entails.”  My intention, contrary to how it appears, is not to be mean or controlling. Yesterday, the day before Mother’s Day, I realized my words are the reflection of a terrible desperation. My mother is aging, and I can’t see my life without her presence in it.

          Before I left the Whole Foods I picked up a cantaloupe, my mother’s favorite. It was fragrant with ripeness. I was going to keep it for myself, but instead sent it to my mother’s house with my daughter when I dropped her off for her Saturday night sleep over. I imagine my mother will cut it in half and scoop the seeds into the sink. She will slice it into wedges right on the counter and call L over to join her. They will stand over the sink , eat the fruit right off the rinds, and let their fingers get sticky sweet.
          I have done that with my mother too. Today I remember.