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Generations of Roses

May 12, 2012

Growing up in Memphis, Mother’s Day meant wearing red roses to church.  I continued the tradition wherever I lived – Dallas, Houston, Austin, Nashville, Monteagle – long after everyone else abandoned it. Traditions count in my family.

Last year Eddie and I came back to Memphis for Mother’s Day weekend.  It was especially important to be here because my mother had been diagnosed with Stage 4 lymphoma six months earlier. The cancer was said to be slow growing, and she had responded well to chemotherapy. That said, she had suffered from spinal stenosis for years. A failed laminectomy brought more pain and quashed her vitality.  I knew it might be the last Mother’s Day with my mom. Our original plan was to come down from Monteagle on Friday, but I received an unexpected call on Thursday. Mother had just been hospitalized.  We rushed down immediately.

I was told on arrival that her long-term internist wanted to see my two sisters and me the next morning. At that meeting, he told us that she had suffered an embolism. Both he and Mother’s oncologist saw dim prospects for recovery.  How long?  Two weeks, he guessed. He recommended that she be discharged into hospice care.

I wore a red rose to church last Mother’s Day. Tomorrow it will be white.  It has been a hard 12 months.

Losing your mom is one of life’s universal sorrows.

Being a mom is surely  life’s greatest joy.

Today was destined to be a day of sadness and remembrance.  Instead,  my heart took flight. It soared. It leaped. It bounded. Because Nelson, my all-grown-up-son, paid me a surprise Mother’s Day visit from Nashville. He had in hand a mushy card that made me cry and two Schola Pacis CD’s. And then we talked for ten hours – Mommy nirvana!

Let’s see. Among scores of other topics, we covered girlfriends (current, former, and prospective), the literal Greek meaning of the word sophomore (ten points if you know it), Jon Stewart’s take on Tennessee’s new sex education law, Nelson’s Billy Idol costuming for a recent ’80’s party, Rush Limbaugh’s gaffe confusing a Classics college major (that is, Classical Languages) with English Lit, and the very best of the YouTube muppet videos.

Which I’m including here, because I totally agree, and it’s kind of a Mother’s Day gift in itself. (You’ll understand when you watch it.)

The Best Muppets Video

It was a great day.

Tomorrow, on Mother’s Day, I will think of my mother with great love. I will sit by my son in church. I will wear a white rose (if Kroger even has any) and shed tears when I look at his red rose and wonder why even in Memphis, no one wears roses on Mother’s Day anymore.

Happy Mother’s Day, mothers everywhere. If yours is still in life, tell her you love her.  She may know it, but she still needs to hear it.

One Comment leave one →
  1. May 12, 2012 11:41 PM

    That was very touching!

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