My First Motherless Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day Without a Mom

It feels kind of weird. I imagine it would be worse if the stores were fully open because I’d be seeing little things to get my mom. She loved little things, multiple packages to open, no matter what was inside. Tissues? Great! A new tube of deodorant? Very thoughtful! Something, anything green? Perfect! Anything with the Reds logo? Love it! That was my mom.

Still Celebrating!

There is still a lot to celebrate. I’m a mom. I’m a grandmother. I adore the mothers of my grandchildren. I have a terrific mother-in-law!

I have been blessed beyond measure without a doubt!


I’m the little one.

I have wonderful memories about my mom. It took me awhile, though, to allow those memories to surface. My mother had dementia and grew increasingly difficult to deal with in her final years. She was still loving and pleasant, just not all the time.

There were difficult moments as I had to make difficult decisions for her. There was family strife while making those decisions. I was frankly exhausted from not only the tension, but also the 2 hour drive each way when I went to visit her or to take care of business for her. When she passed away last summer just a few days after her 90th birthday, I felt as though I’d already traveled through most of the grieving process. As her memory faded, I lost bits and pieces of her and of our relationship. I honestly at that time could only remember the bad times. Even before this happened to her, the memories were of arguments or her lack of cooking skills or her willingness to enable certain family members who took advantage of her. I came to terms with that when I realized that it would take time to remember the “old” mom. And it did. The good memories finally came through. Like this one:

And this one:

And lots more because she was so goofy!

So that’s why I’m celebrating Mother’s Day not with tears but with joy.

Take My Advice

If you still have your mother and/or your grandmothers (any family member of a previous generation for that matter) ask questions. Take notes.  Make videos. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say, “I wish I would have asked her/him about xyz.” Celebrate Mother’s Day that way. Even if you think you’ve heard the stories before.

Questions you might ask:

Was there ever a time when you remember people having to adjust because of a pandemic (polio, flu, something else?) What changes do you remember taking place and how did that make you feel?

How did you meet Dad (Mom, Grandma, Grandpa…)?

How did you get engaged?

What is your earliest memory?

How was your family affected by The Great Depression? (WWII, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, the Recession?)

What meal was your favorite growing up?

Tell me about the first car you owned. (House, pet…)

Did your parents force you to go to church when you were a kid? Why or why not?

What are your memories about watching the first moon landing? (Day JFK was assassinated, 911…)

Using questions will help guide the conversation so that you don’t hear the same things over and over. Try to think about the things you may be curious about later.

Celebrate Family

Photo by Stationery Hoe on Unsplash

However you define family. There are lots of ways, but you know who the people are you’re closest to. Many of you have been spending time in the house with them, and others you’ve kept in touch with by email, video, and over the phone. Get yourself a journal and start recording those memories, including your own. Are you keeping a pandemic journal? If not, start today! Future generations will want to know what we thought about and how we handled 2020. Write down your thoughts because in the future someone may forget to ask!

How Will You Celebrate Mother’s Day in 2020?

11 thoughts on “My First Motherless Mother’s Day

  1. Eileen Thomson

    This was beautiful, Cindy, and expressed so well the variety of emotions we go through – especially when losing a parent – and a mother in particular. No matter the time we have had them on this earth (mine was 101 when she died) it leaves you with that empty feeling that now that huge shoulder that I could cry on is not there anymore and I have to try to fill that role.

    I am glad the good memories are coming back. I know they far outweigh the difficult ones of the last years. We both know what a huge heart she had and that it overflowed with love for her family and so many others.

  2. Ronda Roberts

    Cindy, this was fantastic to read and thank you for the great questions to start asking our loved ones. I definitely agree with keeping a pandemic journal, I had not yet, but I’m going to start today. (And you do have a fabulous Mother-in-Law too ❤)

  3. Brenda

    Loved her and her wackiness!! I can hear her laugh to this day, taste her cookies and feel her kindness for everyone. She was a good sister in law to mom and the best aunt to us. I feel the emptiness on this day, but filling it with memories is a great way to honor those moms we have lost. Love you!

  4. De An Williams

    That was lovely, Cindy. I’m glad the good memories are coming back. I can relate to some of experiences. My mother passed shortly before we moved to Ohio from Texas. She had Alzheimer’s. Fortunately, my mother became very sweet and childlike, but did know who I was and we made new kinds of good memories. Before the Alzheimer’s, Mom was a geneologist by avocation/ hobby. I have lots of childhood memories of being dragged around for her to do whar you did as a teen: going to visit elderly relatives so she could pick their brains and tramping through overgrown country/family cemeteries. She always wanted as teen to get me interested. By that time, I just thought it was boring and, as I told her, I thought the stories would be interesting, but not just the names and dates. She said the names, dates, and places lead you to stories. Well, now because of her, I do know more than most people about my family history. I have boxes of her research, God bless her, but she wasn’t very organized. Now times have changed, and so have I. Now she’s gone. My mother-in-law, who was like another mother to me, passed in August. As of 2 and a half years ago, I am a mother-in-law to a daughter-in-law I love. And, for the last 15 months, am a grandmother to a precious grandson. Now I want to pass along family heritage: names, dates, places, and stories. I guess I have to dig out her boxes of research and see what I can do with it.

  5. Ronda Wells

    I went through the same thing four years ago but was blessed that my folks only lived 5 miles away. Mom had a major stroke while Dad was in hospice, so we ended up bringing them both to my house. Not sure I could’ve done it from two hours away – that is such a stressful time and a long drive for you, too. I had Mom record some of her memories and even wrote her stories down starting 20 years ago. Still looking for that audio tape, though! Now working on a NF/memoir about her life growing up an orphan in Appalachia. The search for her lost childhood has been an interesting challenge but I’ve become a genealogist while doing it. Just wish I had asked her more questions! I am finding the more work on this, the more memories of her before the dementia set in are returning. She was sick for 15 years. While you’re under the stress of caregiving, it’s just putting one foot in front of the other to get through. It takes awhile for things to readjust and start coming back.


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