She comes around every year and has a way of stopping me in my tracks. A mixture of gratitude and grief, timing and tragedy, love and loss. (note the deliberate order of those comparisons).
Elaine. The queen of the glass half full. Even when she couldn’t find the glass anymore she fought her way back to being the one who saw the world through the most enchanting lens. Every friend described her as their person. Every flower flourished at her hand. People referred to her as their second mother, but only two of us were lucky enough to call her mom.
Today I will choose to celebrate the great fortune we had to be her kids. Every move I make she is on my shoulder. Ingrained in my being is the essence of a woman who taught me how to be a mom. She tempered my erratic side and nurtured my creative one. I work to be the example she set.
She left me with the most delightful journals. Articles, tidbits, writings… every one of them I can hear her voice reciting. In honor of having the mother of all moms, I will share some of my favorite Elaine-isms this Mother’s Day:
Be nice. (to which we would always say, be a radio… unclear why).
How to take out a splinter with an onion (for real… she loved Prevention magazine).
Look out for your brother/sister. They will always have your back (easy).
Make sure you have some younger friends (I love this & you people know who you are – thanks for looking out for us geezers).
Don’t put hot matzoh balls in cold soup (learned this the hard way).
Go with your gut (in a year when my gut seemed to be on hiatus I am happy to report it has returned with vaccines).
Always be the kind of friend you want to have (this goes with: be honest but tender at the same time).
Don’t do/eat/touch/pick at… THAT. (when I knew THAT was going to be a problem for me).
Let the kids make mistakes, but be there for them when they fall down. (literally for the littles, metaphoric for the bigs)
But the most important one of all was to love. Big. Fully. With gusto. And make sure that those you love, know it.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms. Remember, yours is always there, even if you can’t touch her. And to my kids, for tolerating the combination of their sweet Gram inside their crazy Mom.
Ok, I am a chicken. A Mother’s Day post was a little more than I could handle yesterday. The day is too much of a juggle between happy and sad, tragic and coping, to have been able to do this. So, I opted for the day after. Because, truth be told, you can only push it down with so much stuff before you find yourself in silence, and the simmer comes to a boil.
Our extended family had much to celebrate this weekend: a new baby, a wedding, a medical school graduation, an anniversary, another successful 140-mile charity bike ride, lunch with our new extended family… we were overflowing with joy.
As with sadness, happiness tends to come in big waves. It gives the sadness context.
As time passes, and the years without Elaine click over, we find that she insinuates herself back to us in not so mysterious ways. Mother’s Day is hard. Just is. No way around it. For both the day and the DAY. But she is very much in all of us.
Saturday, she (and some kick-ass bike handling skills) kept my brother safe. She showed up in a shawl that wrapped Jana in warmth during a wedding ceremony, miraculously still smelling of her essence. This morning, I passed the fridge and there was this picture. I see it everyday. But this morning it called to me. And I could hear her voice:
Lighten up. Be kind to yourself. Let happy outweigh sad. Her favorite to me: I wish I could take it on for you but I can’t, so instead I will just be here for you. But the most important thing she ever taught us was to love fully… and to laugh. To the point of tears.
Happy Day After Mother’s Day to you all.
Now go have a good laugh on Elaine.
I have not been here in ages, but today seemed like a good day to come back. My favorite artifacts from my mom were here journals, in particular, “Articles of Importance – 2007”.
I often open it to a random page, not unlike a Magic 8 Ball. Today this gem came up. Let’s face it… Taxes. Gardening. Travel. Just about sums it all up, right? Certainly for her it did.
I am a mom. And a daughter. And everything that I have learned about being a mom, I learned from being her daughter.
Those who knew Elaine, knew the extraordinary life that she lived in a very ordinary way. I say that because she touched so very many people. Effortlessly. With humility. And frankly not thinking twice about it. She gave advice, comfort and joy to so very many people. I can only hope she knew that.
And she suffered. With grace and determination. And concern, not for herself, but for us. Always. She taught our family how to be a solid unit. How to live the joys to their fullest and survive the depths clinging tight to each other.
The quote above sits proudly on page 1 of one of her famous journals ‘Important articles 2007’. I am so very grateful for these physical reminders of her quirky sense of humor and passion for clipping.
In honor of my red-headed giraffe of a mom, here’s a small list of what I learned from her:
- Don’t go out without lipstick (for me it is eyeliner)
- Give your kids enough rope to hang themselves (I hung often)
- You could do it the easy way, but if you do it the Amy way I will be there to pick up the pieces.
- Your toddler is not an asshole, she is just acting like one. Go out for a walk and cool off, I’ve got this.
- You are sweet like me, but a bit of a hot head like your dad, I think this will both serve you well and get you in trouble. Remember this when you have kids.
- Don’t cross me when I am holding a frozen hot dog (this one is for my brother)
- Love with your whole heart.
- Be the one who says ‘I think it might not be a good idea for us to do this’ (btw, I was, but did it anyway… persuasive friends)
- Be a FRIEND and make sure it is in all caps.
- Let your kids fail, but make sure you are in the wings to help them find their way back.
But most of all: Life is what you make it – always has been, always will be.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there. And remember, if you have lost your mom, you are not friggin’ motherless, she is just watching you from another place.
I always loved the hashtag #latergram. Post something you forgot to earlier that means enough to share. Two and a half years after she left us, Elaine still finds a way to impart the wisdom that meant the most to her.
I found this on the little bulletin board by the phone in the Florida kitchen. How have I never seen this?
How wonderful that I did today. She certainly was the grand puba of empathy.
This was one of the first things I posted here on Elaineisms. Like my own blog, this too has been taking a long rest. What better day to post here again than Mother’s Day.
I first found this the day Elaine fell, Mother’s Day two years ago. I am convinced now that she knew Mother’s Day would always be tough so, not wanting to have another day of the year be an awful reminder of her absence… well, you get the picture. Funny how we justify what cannot be justified.
This was framed in a grouping with pictures of my two grandmothers on one of her desks. She always thought of her mother-in-law as her second mom. I had never read this until then, although I had seen it often. Finding it that night was too raw, but I took it and it now sits on my desk.
I just read a passage in a book today about reading the same thing at different times of your life and getting something all together different out of it.
Happy Mother’s Day to a mom who never lets me forget what is important, and who truly lives on in me every day.
I love you mom. And don’t worry, I’ve got this where you left off. I promise.
The COUCH! Flower Power, indeed.
Just another reason I am convinced I had the perfect mom. And why I spend every day trying to live up to her example of motherhood. Even in the small moments.
(side note: I never taught Jana to crochet, but I pretty sure I taught her other good stuff)
Today would have been my mom’s 83rd birthday. Now that she is gone I guess it’s OK to let her real age out of the bag, right? I always wrote her a birthday blog post, some of which she had framed, I might add. So it only seems right to keep up the tradition.
In celebration of who she was, I decided to grab one of her many journals off the shelf and open to a random page. You know, so she could send me a message. And yes, I do believe in that crap now. Just go with it.
I suppose you will too, after you read this. No lie, this was the page I randomly opened to. (Click on this image and blow this baby up to read it, you won’t be sorry). This is a list of tactics for discovering pleasure and satisfaction in every day moments…
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We lived in a nice house, but it was also a nosh house.
For those not of the tribe – or living in parts not exposed to nibblers of the yiddish persuasion– a nosh is a snack. A little something. A tidbit, if you will.
Elaine, for a skinny woman, was a serial nosher. She had the home of the ‘goodie basket’. Friends from childhood can confirm its legendary status in the neighborhood.
This hung in her kitchen. Of all the things I have not taken home from there, this one keeps calling my name.