Whether you’ve had a good relationship with your mother or not, Mother’s Day is a good time to honor the woman who gave you life.
Every year since I was a little girl, I’ve given my mother a Mother’s Day card. Some years I’ve also written her letters, but often I decided not to send them. But this year is different.
My mother is 86 years old and still lives in a small house in New York. Until recently she’s been very independent, but she’s begun falling, and I’ve heard that this is the first sign of a transition to another stage in life. As a baby boomer, with children and grandchildren, this reminded me of my being in the “sandwich generation.” This year, I’ve decided that before it’s too late, I want to write my mother a letter. Here it is:
As you near the end of your life, I want to make sure you know how grateful I am for your having given me life. I know that you wanted a parakeet instead of a baby, but Dad, as a Holocaust survivor, convinced you to have me; and Grandma ended up raising me. When she committed suicide when I was ten, you felt lost, but during your own grieving, you gave me a journal and told me to write down my feelings. This motivated me to journal during other turbulent times, such as my adolescence and then during bed rest with all three of my children — your grandchildren. It also inspired my doctoral research on the healing and transformative powers of memoir writing.
So, your seemingly benign gesture of giving me a journal served as the platform for my career as a writer. You instilled in me the importance of self-expression for healing, which is something I’ve done my entire life.
As much as I might have complained about not having the typical mother who made lunches each morning before school and baked fresh cookies, you had so many other wonderful attributes that my friends envied — including doing yoga and going horseback riding — unusual hobbies back in the ’60s. At the time, though, I took your eccentricity for granted. My friends also found it interesting that you spent a lot of time reading and sharing your passion for books on our weekly trips to the library, which inspired my own love for the written word in all its forms.
So, before it’s too late, I just want to thank you for all that you did, and I apologize for not expressing my appreciation earlier.
Love you always,