A Motherīs Love
Patricia Palmer Hurd
My mother and I didnīt exactly have the best of relationships.
Sometimes it seemed as if playing emotional tug of war was what we did best together.
My mother was a doted-on only child who married a man seven years older than she who also doted on her, so the act of being a mother and nurturing others just didnīt come naturally to her.
Having five pregnancies by age 25 tested her mothering skills on every level.
She often seemed surprised by her life, almost as if she wasnīt exactly sure how she got there.
How could she be a parent? She loved being the child.
My parents were very much in love.
It was evident to anyone who saw them together.
And very romantic.
I remember sneaking down the stairs one Christmas Eve and peering into the living room to find my parents kissing softly under the tree, exchanging their special presents to each other in private before my siblings and I came crashing in the next morning for our presents.
My father used to buy my mother flowing chiffon cocktail dresses, beautiful jewelry, and rich expensive perfumes.
He would put on soft romantic music and take my mother in his arms and waltz her all around the living room.
She would look up into his eyes, whisper something in his ear, and they would hold each other tightly as if they never wanted to let go.
In the 17th year of their marriage, however, my mother was forced to let go.
My father died at 44 from heart disease, and my thirty-seven year old mother would never be the same again.
After almost four decades of being doted on, she now was forced into the role of a parent, and a single one at that.
She was lost.
She didnīt have an education; for she had left high school to marry my father in 1949.
She didnīt have a clue how to manage money; my father had always handled all the finances in our home.
And now she had three hungry, scared, fatherless children to tend to.
So she got not one, but two jobs.
She was a secretary during the day, and worked at an ice cream parlor at night.
She would come home at eleven oīclock at night, exhausted, with leftovers of ice cream that her boss had sent to us.
Several times the electricity was turned off due to a late payment, and we would gather around the fireplace at night, eating our free ice cream, sharing our dayīs adventures with each other.
I would hear my mother crying softly at night after we had all gone to bed.
She missed my Dad.
She missed dancing in his arms.
She missed being taken care of.
She missed the wonderful life that she had always known.
Her world had irrevocably changed and would never be the same again.
We lived in a town in upstate New York near the Canadian border, and on special occasions we would travel to the next city an hour or so away to spend the entire day going form one department store to the next, checking out the latest fashions and getting ideas how to stretch our wardrobes on our tiny budgets.
There is one particular trip that stands out from all the rest.
One crisp, clean fall Saturday, my mother and younger sister and I all piled into our car at 9AM and headed off for a day full of fun and adventure.
We arrived at our destination exactly as all of the huge stores were opening.
We jumped out of the car and went delightedly from one store to the next, checking out all the new fashions, wishing beyond words that we could own some of them.
I walked into the coat department in one store and stopped dead in my tracks.
On one of the racks was a soft wool burgundy colored coat with big black buttons and a hood.
It was exactly like the one I had seen in Seventeen Magazine.
I tried it on, and when I looked in the mirror the happy reflection of my face smiled back at me in delight.
It made me feel special.
After all of the sadness and worry of the previous year, it just made me feel warm, and safe, and special.
I wanted that coat.
I looked at the price tag and realized it was way over our budget, so I slowly slipped it off and hung it back on its hanger, taking one last wistful look as I walked away.
My mother and sister and I had lunch at a little luncheonette and then did a bit more window shopping.
My mother went to a bargain basement type store, and at one point I looked over and saw her slowly going through the clearance rack, trying to find something to wear at work that would look nice but still be within our budget.
I remember feeling so sad inside to see my beautiful mother who once danced in gorgeous evening gowns now buying cheap castoffs that no one else had wanted.
But she eventually found a few things, paid for her purchases and declared it was time to start heading home.
We walked to our car, and my mother said she would meet us in a few minutes, she had one more stop to make.
My sister and I sat in the car, chattering away happily about what a wonderful day we had.
About fifteen minutes later, we saw my mother coming towards us with a large white box in her arms.
She was smiling the way she used to when she would be dancing in my Dadīs arms.
She gently handed me the box with a smile and told me that she had decided to get me an early Christmas present.
I opened the box and couldnīt believe my eyes!
There was the burgundy wool coat!
I looked at my mother and tried to explain that I couldnīt possibly accept this, it cost more than a month of groceries for us.
She told me that she had been tucking some money away for Christmas and that she knew how much I wanted this, and that it made her so happy to be able to get it for me.
I have never forgotten that unselfish act of love my mother showed me that day.
Relationships between mothers and daughters are often difficult.
There are sometimes huge differences of opinions and angry words between them.
But in the end,
long after a mother is gone,
what matters the most is the love she gave.
The love between a mother and child is an unbreakable bond.