Hi, there, Dear Reader. As I start writing this, It is early afternoon on Sunday, May 9, 2021. It a warm day, almost summer-like; the temperature is 86˚F (30˚C) under sunny skies. With the wind blowing from the southeast at 12 MPH (19 KM/H) and humidity at 43%, the heat index is 85˚F (29˚C). The forecast for this Mother’s Day calls for mostly sunny skies and a high of 95˚F (35˚C). Tonight, we can expect mostly clear skies and a low of 70˚F (21˚C).
I don’t think I’ll write a long post today, Dear Reader. I didn’t sleep all that well last night and I woke up unnecessarily early – 6:20 AM Eastern – on a day when I could have slept till 8 or so. I’m tired, sleepy, headachy, and, if truth be told, more than a bit sad.
As I wrote in a Facebook status update earlier today:
“This is the sixth Mother’s Day I observe since my mother died in July of 2015. And perhaps the saddest, too. I miss Miami. I miss my former house, my old life, my still-in-Miami friends, and a lot of other things.
“But most of all, I feel lost and bereft of the unconditional love my mom gave me from the day I was born until the day she died.”
It’s no big secret that Mother’s Day has not been one of my favorite holidays for nearly a decade. Before my mom’s health began to really decline in the early 2000s, the occasion was already marred by an unhealthy – and one-sided – competition on the part of my older half-sibling, Victoria, regarding which of Mom’s two grown kids could give her the most memorable gift for Mother’s Day.
I’ve never been a fan of competitions of any sort; if I had been one of the better singers in my high school choral groups I might have liked singing in the Dade County Public Schools’ choral competitions. And when I was a journalism student in both high school and college, I was thrilled when some of my articles were submitted to various contests along with other newspaper staff members’ work, in various journalism contests at the state and even national level.
Other than that, I’ve always shied away from competing for anything, be it the love of a woman that others are also pursuing or a parent’s affection. The one time I vied for the affections of a girl who my then-best friend and I both liked, it didn’t go so well; the girl in question liked another guy anyway, and the “competition” put a strain on the friendship between my best pal and me for a while.
So if there was a “who can give Mom the best presents” contest on various occasions – including her birthday, Christmas, and Mother’s Day – it was all in my half-sister Vicky’s head, not mine.
This was true decades before Mom’s final half-decade; I’d content myself with buying her a book from a writer (usually Danielle Steel, but sometimes Stephen King and other authors) I knew Mom liked, or the occasional plush toy dog or cat (I bought her two of those – a Hush Puppies basset hound and a cat that looked similar to our chinchilla Persian, Natasha – over the years). Later, when I made some good money as a writing consultant for private clients and a ghostwriter for a woman with more money than talent, I bought her a VCR, the VHS of 1961’s West Side Story. In more recent times, I gave Mom a DVD player, her HDTV, and a Blu-ray player, and some movies in those formats to go with them.
Never did I give my mother any gift while thinking, “Heck, yeah. This will show Vicky who can get the better presents.” My main concern was to give Mom a thoughtful gift that I knew she’d like. That was my philosophy when I was a kid, and it remained constant right up to Mother’s Day of 2015.
Vicky, on the other hand, needed to make a Hollywood extravaganza out of every occasion that involved Mom and gifts. At best, I’d give our mother a card and a present for Mother’s Day. At worst, I would dispense with the card and give her a gift.
In 2015, for instance, my mom wasn’t reading anymore, so that year I skipped the Mother’s Day card and only gave her the Blu-ray of Evita, the movie in which Madonna portrays Eva Duarte de Peron.
That year, my half-sister showed up with one of those Mylar balloons with “Happy Mother’s Day!” printed on both sides in – as Douglas Adams might have said – large friendly letters. She also gave Mom not one but three bouquets of flowers, stuffed animals, and brought her new dachshund puppy, Sabrina, to “visit.”
When Vicky asked me what I had gotten Mom for Mother’s Day, I held up the Evita Blu-ray rather forlornly. From the sardonic look on my half-sister’s face, I could tell right away that she was not impressed.
Well, I wasn’t impressed by Vicky’s Santa-in-May, over-the-top cornucopia of gifts, either. Those ostentatious displays of “generosity” that my half-sister loved so much grated on me, and before Mom was drawn into the fogginess of mind that is dementia, they irked her, too/
To make matters worse, the one time when Mom watched Evita, her mental state was not good. She had never seen the movie, yet she kept insisting that she had. This was partly because she had lived in Buenos Aires for a couple of years when she had accompanied her first husband, Vicky’s dad, to Peron-era Argentina when he was appointed head of the medical staff at the Colombian Embassy there.
In my mom’s fragmented mind, she kept mixing up her experiences in 1950s Buenos Aires with Alan Parker’s 1996 adaptation of the 1978 musical with music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice. I still remember her insistent cries of “Turn the movie off, mijito. I’ve seen it before!”
And, of course, now that the family dynamics here have changed since last year and the Caregiver spends more time with her new beau, I don’t feel like celebrating Mother’s Day for her, anyway.
And so it goes.