By Neal Lemery
Mother’s Day is a tough holiday, a maudlin remembrance of Mom, who has passed on, but still figures in my life. With any family relationship, it is a mixed bag, an often-confusing mix of emotions, feelings, and memories. Popular culture tells us to be adoring, grateful, and praising offspring, yet other thoughts and patterns of grief keep the emotions in what I often envision as being a whirlpool as I navigate through life.
This year, I’m feeling the need for nurturance. Perhaps it is my long-term response to the pandemic, and the range of lockdowns, quarantines, and the emotional rollercoaster of coping with this contagion that seems to be a never-ending disruptor. I’m emotionally drained. I find myself seeking emotional sustenance, comfort, and the gratifying tenderness of a mother’s love.
Ever since I’ve had a car, I’ve carried a blanket with me. It goes back to when I was five, traveling with my mom and grandma through the mountains. We ran into a freak snowstorm, and almost slid off the road. Waiting for the snowplow, my elders made sure we were warm, underneath the ever-present blanket in my mom’s car, sipping hot tea from my grandmother’s trusty and well-worn thermos. The disaster turned into an adventure, comforted by the blanket, hot tea and family stories I’d never heard before.
A few years before my mom passed, she gave me a new car blanket. The hand-me-down old Pendleton blanket of my grandmother’s had finally succumbed to several generations of picnics, beach trips, and the occasional unexpected adventure. The new blanket stays behind the driver’s seat in my pickup, ready to wrap around me on a chilly evening, or become a picnic tablecloth or a dry seat on a log at the beach. When I pull it out, I am reminded of my mom, and her continual work to care for the family and keeping us safe and warm. Mom being Mom.
This week, as Mother’s Day looms with all of its swirls of emotions and expectations, and no address for me to send Mom a card, or a phone number to call, I found myself wrapping the blanket around me, feeling its softness and its warmth. That sensual comfort chases away the emptiness, the grief that often haunts these holidays that are hyped as overly joyous events, the Hallmark moments that can easily drag me into a canyon of treacherous emotion.
Feeling the fuzzy blanket around my shoulders is almost as good as a hug from Mom, and I can feel her presence in the room as I share a meal with family, and we tell stories of life’s adventures.
I’m missing those times with her, sharing a pot of tea, telling stories, and planning a fun event with family. Her blanket wrapped around me is a poor substitute for that, but I’m getting through this weekend with some much-needed sustenance and comfort, taking time for some self care and quality blanket time.