Radio Essays

Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day

W.C. Kasten

WERU Radio – “Esoterica”

I am going to share something difficult to say out loud. I dread Mother’s Day. I am anxious with its approach, sad when I see all the advertising around it, and sorrowful when it arrives. My best- case scenario is getting through it, pretending it’s not happening, pretending it’s just an ordinary Sunday. It seems unlikely I’m the only one who feels this way. So, why?

First, I mourn for the baby never born – the one that miscarried in 1985. The child who never arrived to grow up and join my family.

Then, I am sad and frustrated that the special needs child I adopted and raised and worked so very hard to heal – she rarely calls. She has never called on Mother’s Day. Keeping in touch from my end is difficult because her phone numbers keep changing, and all that’s left is Facebook for contact.

But the most heart wrenching part of this day is thinking about my mother. Thinking about a decade of her slipping into oblivion as Alzheimer’s disease progressed. First losing her purse and keys and wallet daily. Then losing her sense of place and time. Like one night I called her at her Florida home and asked how she was. “Fine. I just got here, and it’s so lovely in the mountains.” (She’d been there 13 years; Florida has no mountains). Or forgetting how to use the phone. Forgetting what a birthday card it and how to read. After a visit in 2004, I wrote:

I watch her staring into space

A vacant look upon her face

Hours and hours of sitting there

Blankly lulling in her chair.

 And then, finally, forgetting me.

I will always remember the moment she forgot me. That day I wrote  a few lines in my journal.

Today my mother forgot me.

Slid away that last wee memory.

I have known this was coming for years,

But I still could not hold back the tears.

Today, my mother forgot me.

For years she was at my very core

That will not happen any more

Today, my mother forgot me.

Mom’s lost in a sea of despair

In fact, she isn’t really there

Caught in a prison of fear

With voices we can’t even hear.

Today, my mother forgot me.

So, Mother’s Day is fraught with grief, rather than gratitude;  heartache rather than happiness.

I wish I could say this gets better with time. But it does not. Once, a few years after my mother passed away, I decided to call someone I admired – the mother of a dear friend.

“I just wanted to wish you a Happy Mother’s Day,” I told Rita C., who’d already gotten flowers from her son and phone calls from both her grandchildren.

“You’re missing your mother.” She said, wisely. “And I am missing mine. Rita C. was 96 then.

I guess this will never get any better.

One Mother’s Day, my husband gave me an orchid plant. I guess he could tell I was sad. That orchid means a great deal to me. It started blooming in February. A sweet delicate thing of beauty in an otherwise gloomy winter month. It’s blooming now.

That orchid plant, in all its glory, will help me cope with another Mother’s Day.

7 thoughts on “Mother’s Day”

  1. I am so sorry for your sadness, Wendy. I am quite sure there is no pain like the one a mother suffers as you have so well described. Thank you for having the courage to write it down. I am sure that you spoke for many mothers on this day that everyone thinks should be so happy.
    Thinking of you. Eileen


  2. Dear Wendy, this is so beautiful, though sad. I remember your mom, the baby not born, and knew of the difficult adopted child. You have borne all this with strength, grace, and the ability to carry on successfully, adding to the lives of so many through your writing and your friendship. So, I’m sorry of the sadness this time of year brings you.

    I’ve loved reading this. With your permission, I will share the writing of your mom’s fading to a good friend whose husband (only 62) has already had to move to a care facility. The interesting thing about his illness; before he was a broody, ill-tempered man. Now, he is sweet and as happy as can be. Such a change!


    1. Kitty, Lovely to hear from you. Yes, you were there for some of this. Of course you can share it. Chuck gave me a few little gifts. It was so thoughtful and made they far better than sometimes. I hope your Mother’s Day was sweet.


      1. It was very nice as I am sheltered with both Cindy and Bob. Cathy, Dave, and all the family Zoomed so I got to see everyone. I always love reading your posts. Always well written.


  3. Dear Wendy, it takes courage to share these hurts publicly. I hope that this act of sharing your soul is one way station on the path of healing. I also hope that others in need of healing will find your piece and be enabled to share their grief.


    1. Thanks, Joyce. Nobody gets to be in our age group without suffering losses. It makes us who we are, and at our ages, we are so smart, wise, and filled with stories.


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