A few memories on Mother’s Day can last lifetime
Reader Gwen Currie of Carson City remembered this Mother’s Day column by the late Alan Rogers from 1997, and asked that we publish it again. “I lost my mother when I was in my early 20s,” she wrote, “and his article touched my heart and helped me get through another Mother’s Day without her.”
Mother’s Day is not my favorite day of the year by any means. There was a time when it was an OK day, but that ended many years ago.
It began on an ordinary school day in the mid-’50s. I was just a young teenage boy without a care in the world. The night before, our mom – my brother Paul is three years and nine months younger – told us good night and that she would see us tomorrow. I was up early the next morning, getting ready for school. Mom was still asleep, Dad was up and getting ready for work, and I told him to tell Mom I’d be home for lunch that day as school was only five minutes away for me, and I didn’t want to eat any “school food.”
When I got home at noon, the ambulance was in the driveway. My first thought was something had happened to Dad, because he had suffered a severe heart attack at age 39, and although he did recover from it, the thought was always there that it could happen again.
Instead, Dad was inside crying with his sister and some neighbors, and I was informed that Mom had died in her sleep. Dad had gone to wake her up before he left for work and found her dead. She died from a stroke in her sleep … she was only 44 years old.
Life as I knew it changed forever that day. Somehow I made it through school, although I lost all interest and went from a top student to one who didn’t give a damn anymore and just barely skated through high school. I didn’t understand why this happened to us, why everyone else had a mom and dad – back then divorce and split families were a rare thing – and I didn’t. It also made every Mother’s Day since a painful experience that brought back thoughts and memories that made this day harder to get through than should have been the case.
Only someone who has lost their mom, especially those who lost a young mother before her time, will understand that kind of pain and bewilderment. At first I used to dream about her all the time, would see others with their moms and be a little envious, and I can’t count the times I unconsciously reached for the phone to call her before realizing I couldn’t do that anymore.
And the dreams I had were so real, when I’d wake up in the morning I’d swear she was there and her death was the dream and not reality. Then that morning wake-up fog would lift and I would be jolted back to reality. She wasn’t coming back, and she wasn’t alive. But she was in my dreams, and I’m thankful now – I wasn’t then – that I had them and the few memories I still have of her.
Now, almost 40 years later, it still stings. I don’t reach for the phone, don’t dream about her or, truthfully, think about her much during the year. But on Mother’s Day every year, I do think about Mom and what could have been.
As I matured, I got on with my life, but every Mother’s Day I still spend with Mom. So I won’t be answering the phone or the door, as it is my day with my Mom, and I’ve got lots of stuff to tell her. For, she never died in my head. While I may not be able to touch her in the physical sense, as long as I am alive, so is she. I can close my eyes and see her anytime I want to, tell her how my life is going (and wonder how it would have gone had she lived), and tell her about her grandkids and, now, great-grandkids. I also know she is watching over me, and when I have a problem over something or other, I can ask her for advice. And even though she can’t answer verbally, I know what the answer would be, and I’ve tried to live my life so that she would be proud of me.
It’s still so sad to me. There are so many things we could have done and seen, so many things we never got to do and so much we both missed. But it wasn’t my call to make, and she is really gone forever … Wish I would have had a vote in that, but I didn’t.
So on this Mother’s Day 1997, I raise my glass and salute you who have your mom. How lucky you are … As for me, I hope the dreams and memories return, and once, back when they were painful, I wished they wouldn’t. But now I’m so glad I have them, even if it’s only for this one day every year.
Anyway, I just wanted those of you who have lost your mom to know you are not alone today. I, and many others, share the pain only those who have been down this road will understand. I hope you all have a happy Mother’s Day, and maybe, if I’m lucky, I’ll dream about my mom tonight.
I’ll end this by saying “Happy Mother’s Day, Mom,” and while she won’t be reading this, I hope she’s reading my thoughts and knows how much I miss her.
n Alan Rogers, who died in 2001 at the age of 61, wrote “Street Talk” in the Appeal for many years and hosted a Carson Access Television program of the same name. Editor Barry Smith’s column will return next week.