My mom… and Rhoda…standing in the light.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY, EVERYBODY!

I know I said I was going to give to my church every Sunday (and I am) but today I feel like writing about my mom, who passed away in 1986, and my husband’s mom Rhoda, who died in October. Because they were, first and foremost and always, amazing mothers.

My mom, holding me, surrounded by Kathy,Tim, Mary Lou (navel-gazing), Dick and Susan.

My mom, Dorothy Mae, had eight children. When she died it was just about the most shocking thing that ever happened to me. I was so hurt and angry for almost two years, I didn’t think I would be able to breathe. But gradually, the pain lessened, I accepted the loss, and learned to live without her.  So it was a complete surprise to find a piece of paper of hers in the back of my bureau drawer the other day, that brought her back to me as sharply and vividly as a dream.. The paper was old and folded and, because she never used just one side of anything, it was written on the back of an invitation to a Values Clarification Workshop in l972, which is hilarious since nobody’s values needed clarification less than my mom’s. Anyhow, as part of  the workshop she dutifully jotted down notes – but my favorite is the list of things she made entitled “Things I love to do.” 1. Picnic 2. Hike 3. Softball 4. Volleyball 5. Tennis 6. Travel 7. Eat 8. Plan 9. Teach 10. Play games 11. Laugh 12. Sing 13. Write letters 14. Math problems 15. Hlep people 16. Cook 17. Hunt bargains 18. Play in snow 19. Ice skate 20. Enjoy good music 21. Pray 22. Read.

Best of all, at the top of the page, crossed out, is a kid’s handwriting (one sentence out of the thousands of repetitions that were my mom’s favorite form of punishment) reading: “I must walk out of church slowly.”  And right there in a nutshell is everything you need to know about my Mom and my childhood.

Rhoda & Ed SchallLarry’s mom Rhoda knew my mom, and they shared a lot in common. They were both exceptionally strong and smart women. Both utterly devoted to their families. And both loved their husbands to pieces. Rhoda was glamorous, though, and much more worldly than my mom. She was a New Yorker, through and through. What I loved about Rhoda were her contradictions — she was a Latin scholar but a fan of the worst detective/slasher novels ever written (a trait my husband shares). She loved the symphony and theater, but she also adored Desperate Housewives and Dancing With the Stars. She could be critical if she thought you were getting worked up unnecessarily (my standard operating procedure) but she’d bend over backwards to try to be supportive of you. In fact, the words “unconditional love” seem insubstantial compared to the bedrock of her devotion to her children and grandchildren. Quite frankly, the world seems diminished without her in it.

So today, I feel utterly blessed today that I had my mom, and Larry’s mom in my life – to model what being a good mom is all about.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the great moms out there… and to all of us who had ’em!

(And my $100 today goes to my church, Our Lady of Lourdes, in Atlanta)