Ahhhh- Mother’s Day. The day of brunches and flowers and picnics. Homemade cards and coupons for walking the dog and cleaning the kitchen. Breakfasts of cereal and toast and fruit that can be assembled without the use of the oven. Pictures made from distorted impressions of paint laden hands. I am daughter and a mother, I have made and received my share of the above for Mother’s Day.
My mother never really liked Mother’s Day. She felt that if you couldn’t be nice to her every day, she didn’t want you to be nice to her just one day because someone said you had to. When I was young, my dad would buy my mom and grandma (she lived with our family) an orchid corsage to wear to church. While mom appreciated the thought, I am not sure she was that fond of orchid corsages, either.
My mom (Theresa Scala Cantow) was an only child, adopted from a foundling home when she was close to two years old. The story goes that when she was brought into the room to meet my grandparents, she immediately crawled into my grandfather’s lap. They adopted her and she was the light of his life. Mom was sickly as a child and spent a lot of time alone. She knew she would never have just one child. So, when she and my dad married, they had five kids. In seven years. With my dad gone a good portion of the time (medical school, internship, fellowship, ship’s doctor,et.), my mom was, in essence, a single mom, with five kids age 7 and under.
All five of us (four girls and a boy) learned a lot from my mom. We learned that family was more important than friends and woe be to the sibling that was mean or unkind to another sibling. My mom always said she was never “mother of the year” because she didn’t like to bake or do crafts and she sometimes yelled and got mad at us and wasn’t always patient. But my mom took all five of us places. All the time. We learned to love to go places: the beach, historical sites, museums, the mall, anywhere at anytime. We learned how to take care of each other. We learned to stand by and up for each other.
My mom leaves an amazing legacy. You just have to look at the last few years to see what she (and my dad) instilled in their children. In the two years leading up to my dad’s death (March, 2012) my sisters and brother took excellent care of my dad during his many hospital/rehab stays. When my dad died, there was no (and I mean not one) squabble over who got what and who deserved more. Later that year, in September, all my siblings came from the east coast for my son’s wedding . Then in Feb 2013, when I was diagnosed with cancer, my siblings came to stay with me.
They came for a week. They came for 3 weeks. They came because we are family and that is what family does for each other. We support and care for and get mad at and love each other. They came because we are all raised from the same mom who taught us that family is so very important. They stood by and up for me. My mom was present in each sibling during each visit.
Once, I was training for a marathon while visiting my parents in Virginia. I did my training in their neighborhood. At one point I needed to go to the bathroom or get water or something. As I got to the house, my mom was standing at the front door, holding it open, waiting for me to come and get what I needed. I have that vision in my head. My mom, open door and open arms, waiting for me.
Soooo, Happy Mother’s Day to you, mom! You would be so proud and pleased to know that your children honor you and your memory everyday. With open doors and open arms we love and care for each other and in doing so, pass the legacy on to our children, who will pass it on to their children. And on and on and on…….. Everyday.