Yesterday was Mother’s Day. I was torn about what to do. We are not the type of family who celebrates every minor holiday with expensive gifts and huge celebrations. There were two options: Generally my family joins our extended family for a cookout in the houseboat woods on Mother’s Day. I thought long and hard about joining Dad, my step-mom-who-hates-me, Dad’s first wife and her husband, my step-aunts, step-cousins and all of their various and sundry mothers, aunts, mothers-in-law and etc. Sometimes my mom shows up and sometimes I wait all day and she calls and says she’s too tired to get there. She’s the only one I’m there for and her arrival isn’t guaranteed. I weighed the vision of this lovely event against the potential of having a real chef cook a meal for me in my kitchen and then having someone else clean up the whole mess. You see, Elizabeth called and told me Richard really wanted to come down and cook for us. In my perfect Mother’s Day fantasy there was background music provided by Randall on the guitar and Martina on the piano, the children were all here, we spent hours just hanging out with each other. The decision was a no brainer.
We called in our regrets for the houseboat event and made plans for our own tradition to be birthed.
My kids all know what I want for Mother’s Day: Their presence. Saying this aloud does not have the proper effect.
Travis and Martina made me a lovely card on yellow construction paper. I can tell that Martina took her time and put some thought into all of the heart shapes, which mean love. Travis supervised. The two of them and Mark gifted me with a lovely basket of candles and candle holders which Mark bought as a donation to the Colonna’s Shipyard Christmas Party Fundraiser. I’m really not the type that feels loved when I receive gifts but I do like candles. It was a great present.
Elizabeth and Richard came down on Saturday night, gave me sweet gifts and went to the Gates County Rodeo with us. It was a great show and I got the number of a local woman who gives lessons to little girls who are interested in barrel racing. Exciting! They stayed the night in the camper and woke up in time for breakfast, cooked by Mark and served around 10:30 am–pancakes, bacon, home fries, eggs, hot coffee, orange juice, crescent rolls. I was in carb-loaders heaven! Richard had big plans for cooking ribs, veggies and corn. We sat around and did a whole lot of nothing for several hours. There were a couple of wrestling matches, some serious tickling contests and once Randall came by around 1pm we put in the Old Home Videos from when he and Elizabeth were babies. By the time Travis was born the video camera was dead and I didn’t have time to take any pictures, much less make movies! In these videos I am shockingly thin and beautiful with a Southern accent that made everyone laugh except Randall who was scandalized by the sheer number of naked movies I took of him when he was a baby and I was 22. I called him Dookey Butt as if that were his name.
At some point I took half a pain pill for the 3-day headache. At some point a little later I puked for a while because I had taken the pill on an empty stomach. Then Richard and Mark tried to force me to eat these little toast things with tomatoes, herbs, cheese and ham on them. Yeah, right, just let me eat that so I can go yack it right back up. No thanks.
Eventually they talked me into it and low and behold! It did settle my stomach, just like they had been telling me. Smart asses.
Anyway, we watched movies until we were cross-eyed and then Randall got the guitar out and played for a good while. He played and Martina read Little Bear and her ‘So You Can Read All By Yourself Now!’ book. There was a horrible thunder storm, complete with more tornado warnings. The air was yellow. The horses and even the fence disappeared it rained so hard. Elizabeth and Richard left right about then and drove the 35 miles back home in the blinding rain. Travis petted Beaster. I just sat there and listened to the rain and the reading and the guitar, looking at the yellow light outside and I know that it was a day, a weekend, a moment that I will remember until the day I die. The events might fade and the exact shade and texture of the yellowness may lose their clarity but I will always know that my kids came home and spent the day with me, for me. This was a Moment of Grace.
Elizabeth is back in Chesapeake. Randall will leave for Italy in 10 days. Travis will soon be driving and then making his way away from home and growing into his adulthood like his older siblings already have. Aleia is wrapped up in herself and slamming doors in my face. Martina is here and sweet and solid for a few more years. But yesterday, on a ‘holiday’ that was created to sell jewelry and cards more than to solidify family relationships, my family committed a small act of subversion–we ate, we played, we remembered what we are. A family.
Presence. That’s the greatest gift I could ever receive on Mother’s Day.