A Simple Mother’s Day Letter

Maybe it was time to share my heart.

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There were many years when my mom was still alive, that I would dread the arrival of Mother’s Day. I know how bad that sounds. I cringe even typing the words. But listen to my story.

My mother devoted her life to her four children. If she had any longings to be something else, something outside the confines of the house, she kept it to herself. She was 100% a mom.

But regrettably, each year when the daffodils were signaling the inevitable coming of the month of May, the same old feelings would emerge, rooted in my own incompetence: my inability to offer a gift that matched her selfless sacrifice for me.

I felt so inadequate. Whatever gift I would find would never be enough. I would search the stores and always seemed to settle on a present that paled. Of course this was only in my mind. My mother loved everything I gave her and that only increased my sense of guilt. More sacrifice. More denial of self.

One fateful year, maturity finally lifted me from the grips of self-ego. This daughter finally got it. It was not about lifting me up, and certainly not about the gifts.

Maybe it was time to share my heart.

So I wrote a letter. It went something like this:

Mom, I am sorry but you will not be getting a store-bought gift this year for Mothers’ Day. Instead, I want to tell you what is in my heart, and it might surprise you a bit. There are moments in my childhood that I will treasure forever, little moments of which you might not be aware. So here are a few:

  • When we did the dishes together, you washed and I dried, I would prattle on about my day, school, my friends and you patiently listened to me. You were the best listener and I felt loved.
  • When we went clothes shopping, you taught me how to look for quality. There was a day when you showed how me to inspect the skirt seams to see if the patterns and plaids matched. You would say over and over again that it is better to buy one good thing of quality rather than buying a lot of cheap things. You were my teacher and I learned from you.
  • You understood so well that I hated to be told what to do. I wanted to do my chores BEFORE it became a request, like it was my idea. You saw that need in me to be self-sufficient, and gave me space to say, “Mom, I’m going outside and see if the clothes on the line are dry.” And sometimes, with a little sparkle in your eyes, you would muse about something that needed to be done. (Hints were not requests.) Within a few minutes, as though a great idea popped into my head, I’d say, “I think I better clean the . . . . “
  • You understood my love of nature, to take long walks in the woods, to climb our willow tree, all without ridicule. With a chuckle, you would tell people, “If you can’t find Gloria, go look in a tree.”
  • The walk from our parked car to the entrance of our little parish church on a Sunday morning: we were proudly dressed in our finest and that translated to a sense of worth as a team.

I mailed the letter. I waited for a response. It came in the form of a visit. There was a rush of hugs and kisses. She was more demonstrative than I ever remembered. She scooped me up and lifted me up off my feet. We hugged. It was the loving-est embrace of my life.

That was three months before she was suddenly taken from us. But you know what? That letter is now months, years and eons long. Yes, I keep adding to it. And I know she receives it. There is no expiration date on love. It is transmittable.

There is always time to share the heart, even now.

7 Comments Add yours

  1. Patrick Westcott says:

    Absolutely lovely, Gloria. You were and are a good daughter. Thank you for sharing your heartfelt letter.


    1. Thank you Patrick. My siblings (2 brothers and a sister) are having fun sharing our stories to add to “The Simple Letter” to our mother. It is continuous. Some of our stories are hilarious.


    2. I’m glad you liked it. I certainly was teary while writing this, but I hoped it might speak to others. It truly is never tool late.


  2. Nancy E Buhrer says:

    Absolutely beautiful Gloria as yes it brought tears to my eyes- as I read along I filled in examples from my own life as I composed a mental letter to my Mom- now that she is gone, I have found there is so much that I wish I had appreciated and shared at the time- thank you as always for this beautiful letter and yes you were a wonderful daughter!


    1. Nancy, My siblings and I are sharing hilarious stories, most of which are new to us. Yes, so true. We are discovering things we wished we knew years ago. But I know it is never too late. My letter keeps growing.


  3. Judith Orazio says:

    Beautiful, Gloria. Your story evoked some fond memories of time spent with my mother. Judy


    1. Judy,
      I am glad. It was a story I did not want to write but felt compelled. I did not want to admit the guilt I felt, but it was cathartic for me. I hope it reaches others.


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