mother's day

On Mother’s day, last Sunday, I had a fleeting thought about calling my mom before the jilting realization that she died last October. Rain fell much of the day and a dead sky hung heavy on my head and heart. Rhododendron and magnolia blooms bobbed and swayed in a chilling breeze. A few tulips beginning to show their color danced alongside, but somehow I wasn’t cheered. On grey days it still looks and feels a little like November outside, deciduous trees only now sprouting tiny buds, the steely mercury hardly sneaking over fifty degrees.

To pass the time with Calvin (there’s so few places we can take him that he enjoys and where he’ll comply) we took a drive up the road to a riverside park, then made our way on meandering roads dotted with large new homes rising amidst modest double-wides. We stopped at a pond to let Nellie out and so I could catch some fresh air and some respite from Calvin’s errant limbs. With my shoulders shrugged against the cold I approached the bank, its waters nearly flat and silvery, and found it littered with crumpled fast food bags and cups, a faded foldable lounge chair cast aside, one pile of dog shit, a sopping black sock and several empty cans.

The scene, which should have been beautiful and serene, only worked to dampen my mood and amplify my loss, so I got back into the car and began to weep.

“Maybe if I’d had a normal child I’d have been a better mom,” I said, dwelling on my lack of patience and grim frame of mind.

As I wept, I imagined all the cool things I’d be doing with Calvin had he been born with a healthy brain—and thriving—had the seizures and the drugs never begun.

Michael reached over and held my hand and told me how lucky Calvin was.

Back at home, I watched happy photos of women embracing aging mothers and women with their own healthy children in tow flood my laptop screen. I thought of posting one of my mother, then opted against the notion. I saw snapshots of kids at the beach, in the forest, at cafes and on their bikes. I imagined them going to movies with their moms, making mom breakfast, writing poems and drawing cards.

A few days earlier, when Calvin wasn’t doing so well, I’d said to Michael, “It’s so sad that he has to feel so bad all the time.”

And though my one material present on Mother’s day was an oversized bottle of Maker’s in a brown paper bag, when Calvin put his arms around my neck and hugged me close that eve, I realized the amazing gift he is, even when he’s so far from being what we'd had in mind.

Photo by Michael Kolster


  1. Of course he is, and you are a gift for him.

    As for the rest of the Hallmark holiday, f**k it.

  2. You were in my heart as I posted one of those Facebook pics on Mother's Day. I knew it would be a hard day for you and should have reached out. I spent a good part of Mother's Day thinking about my mom, Lucille, who has just entered hospice. It turns out Mother's Day and Nurses' Week overlap in a lot of experiences. Not all of them are ready for FBification. But your dual roles should mean you get twice the likes. The care you give is the purest gift.