Making small talk with the older woman admiring the carousel of beautiful flowers, she mumbled to me, “It doesn’t matter anyway; I won’t be receiving any of these for Mother’s Day.”
Curiously I asked, “Your family is not close?”
“Oh, my children are all over the place,” she gestured with her hand pointing off into space.
Slowly pushing her shopping cart off to a different aisle, I walked back over to the prettiest tulips and with a smile selected the perfect bouquet.
As I paid for the delicate flowers, I requested the clerk to please give them to the gray-haired woman with the white sweater when she checked out.
I left the store that afternoon filling a void in my heart as well.
It has been over 5 years since my estranged adoptive mother passed away. Quite honestly, I am feeling a little uneasy about Mother’s Day again this year. Although we had our differences for many years, there is still a part of the child in me that grieves for the many losses.
Even as a very young girl, I remember mom saying that the greeting cards I’d pick out special for her were nice. But there was never a time she didn’t follow it with a snide comment stating that it wasn’t honestly how I felt about her.
Upon learning my adoptive mother had died, I realized that I still had conflicting tears left from our long-ago failed mother-daughter relationship. The brutal truth was, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get her to love me. She always kept me at arm’s length. I was not her flesh-and-blood; she was guarded as if we were strangers.
Unfortunately, I can see now that my adoptive mother was broken; she didn’t even know how to love herself.
I have three wonderful daughters that make me feel loved and blessed on Mother’s Day. However, there are times I want to cry out, “How could anyone possibly understand how it feels to have lost out on the love of two mothers, a natural mother, and my adoptive mother?”
It’s not really on a whim that I have always given freely of myself. Kudos of “that was really nice of you” from others has never been what’s important either.
Feeling bitterness from the losses has not been an option for me, but rather the “hard parts” have strengthened my belief that being a caring and sensitive human being with a genuine love for one another is what is most important in our lifetime.
The way we heal from our hurts and disappointments can be empowering. It may be as simple as a gift from the heart—beautiful flowers for a lonely mother on Mother’s Day.