a May flower

This spring has been slower to warm than usual. Most years, we have lilies of the valley by Mother’s Day or by Nana’s birthday on May 16th at the latest. Lilies of the valley are the birth flower for May and we always picked bud vases for her while they were flowering.

Years ago, B and I transplanted a few pips from our childhood yards in New England to our home in New York. Lilies of the valley “spread aggressively” as horticulturists say and we now have a patch at least 25 square feet (2.3 square meters).

I’ve written previously about some of the hidden blessings of not having to deal with the complications of 2020 last year as we spent our final months with Nana. We were able to bring her beautiful, fragrant bouquets of lilies of the valley for her last birthday, which would not have been possible with the later spring blossoming this year and the restrictions on visiting skilled nursing facilities.

Lily of the valley, with Paco’s card to Nana and birthday card made by artist-friend Jim

Nana’s ashes are in an indoor niche at a memorial park in our town where fresh flowers are not allowed. I’m hoping someday to find some beautiful artificial lilies of the valley to leave there for her, so there will always be a bit of spring and her favorite May flower nearby.

bad timing

The United States government authorized direct cash payments to adults in order to help people face the challenges of the pandemic economic impacts.

The implementation has been dicey, though.

Most of the payments were based on 2018 or 2019 income tax returns and were made by direct deposit, if banking information was on file with the Internal Revenue Service, or by check.

Unfortunately, the IRS didn’t cross-reference with the Social Security system, which meant that some payments were issued to people who were deceased. That is what happened with my parents, known here as Nana and Paco, who received a payment by direct deposit last month, even though Nana’s date of death was on file at Social Security.

Many others were similarly affected and, at first, it seemed that surviving spouses would be allowed to keep the full payment as had happened in a similar economic stimulus program a number of years ago.

However, a few days ago, the government issued instructions that required people to mail them a check for any payment sent on behalf of someone who had died.

I am not arguing against the principle of payments to only those who are living, but I wish that the program had been implemented with accuracy. It’s been painful dealing with the hassles and uncertainty of the situation.

I couldn’t make myself write the check and required note to the IRS on Mother’s Day, my first without my mom. I did put it in the mail today. Later this week will be Nana’s birthday and the following week the first anniversary of her death. I didn’t need another reminder of her absence from the government in the midst of it.

I feel badly for those whose loss is more recent, who may need the money to help pay funeral bills or to support surviving family. I would hope in those instances that the government would not demand that the money be returned, but I doubt that the current administration will act with compassion and competence.

It’s sad.

a very different Mother’s Day

Today in the United States, we are observing Mother’s Day, which was originally begun as a call by women for peace, but that is another story.

I have been dreading Mother’s Day this year because it is the first since my mom’s death last May.  She was under hospice care in the nursing home, but we were still able to be with her and bring cards and flowers and treats. I keep thinking about how different it would have been this year with pandemic protections in place. No visiting is allowed. I know that is necessary to keep the virus away from such vulnerable people, but it must be so difficult today for all those moms, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers to be separated from their loved ones.

I am grateful to have daughter T here with us. We got to videochat with daughter E and granddaughter ABC. ABC showed me a special drawing that she and her dad had made for me for Mother’s Day. They were able to scan it and B printed it for me, so now it is on the mantel. It was fun to see ABC dancing about the living room, to hear her sing and “play” the piano, and hear her ever-expanding vocabulary. She will turn three next month. This is also the first Mother’s Day since they moved to London after E’s spousal visa finally came through. Though I wished E a happy Mother’s Day, the UK celebrated weeks ago.

It has also been unseasonably cold here. We have had snow this weekend, which is late in the spring for us. No outdoor flowers for Mother’s Day gifts this year!

Because of my mood and the pandemic restrictions, our celebration here will be low-key. B made Chelsea buns for breakfast, which were amazingly delicious and hot-from-the-oven. For supper, he is making lasagna, using the recipe that my mom always did. It is definitely the comfort food that I need today.

It was also comforting to watch mass recorded from television. The one I chose was my mother’s favorite when she was homebound for so many months. Of course, they mentioned Mother’s Day and included prayers for mothers. It was another way to remember my mom on this special but difficult day.

Three Mother’s Days

Last year, Mother’s Day was subdued. Neither of my daughters was at home. B’s mom had died only a few weeks before. I was blessed to be able to have brunch with my parents, known here as Nana and Paco, although Nana was already dealing with the congestive heart failure which is still a feature of life taking considerable time and energy.

While Nana’s health is still a feature for Mother’s Day today and we will again be joining Nana and Paco for brunch at their senior living community, we have new and exciting happenings this year. Daughter E is in residence and expecting her first child in a few weeks. Baby will be our first grandchild and Nana and Paco’s first great-grandchild. Daughter T has already sent cards to all three generations from her present home in Missouri. Later in the day, my older sister and her husband will arrive for a few days’ visit and, tomorrow, E’s spouse L arrives for three months and my younger sister arrives to get ready for Nana’s birthday on Tuesday.

Next year, what will Mother’s Day bring? I hope that B and I will again be brunching with Nana and Paco.  It is likely E, L, and Baby will be living in London. T’s position in Missouri is supposed to end in December, but it is possible that she will stay a second year or move on to another position who-knows-where. If my sisters visit again from Nana’s birthday, it wouldn’t be in close proximity to Mother’s Day, which is as late a date as it can be this year.

Whatever happens in the next year, I know that next Mother’s Day will be marked by intergenerational love, no matter what circumstances separate us physically.

the original Mother’s Day

Yesterday, for Stream of Consciousness Saturday, I posted about personal Mother’s Day.

Today, I want to post about the original meaning of celebrating Mother’s Day.

It was actually Mothers’ Day for Peace and was not about personal sentiment, but about global peacemaking.

Julia Ward Howe wrote the original proclamation in 1870:

Arise, then, women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts,
whether our baptism be that of water or of fears!

Say firmly: “We will not have great questions decided by
irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking
with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be
taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach
them of charity, mercy and patience.

We women of one country will be too tender of those of another
country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs. From
the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own.
It says “Disarm, Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance
of justice.”

Blood does not wipe our dishonor nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons
of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a
great and earnest day of counsel. Let them meet first, as women,
to bewail and commemorate the dead.

Let them then solemnly take counsel with each other as to the
means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each
bearing after their own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
but of God.

In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a
general congress of women without limit of nationality may be
appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient and at
the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the
alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement
of international questions, the great and general interests of
peace.

(Source and more info:  http://www.peace.ca/mothersdayproclamation.htm)

At our time in history, we are still desperately in need of world peace. Today, let us re-commit ourselves to building that peace.

SoCS: Mother’s Day

So, I have been absent from SoCS for weeks – and the reason has to do with a parent.

Specifically, my spouse’s mom, whom I refer to on my blog as Grandma.

Grandma passed away unexpectedly on March 22nd and tomorrow will be our first Mother’s Day without her.

I am very, very grateful to still have both of my parents here; we will be having Mother’s Day brunch with them tomorrow.

My husband, known on my blog as B, has no parents left at all now. We lost his dad almost eleven years ago.

Since Grandma’s death, I have posted very little. (There are some posts about her death and things that have happened since, but nowhere near the number of posts I usually make.) I have done almost no reading of others’ blogs and almost no commenting. I wish I could say that this return to SoCS marked a sea change – that I would be back to my usual posts in Linda’s SoCS and One-liner Wednesday, my usual level of posting at Top of JC’S Mind, visiting dozens of blogs a day, and writing comments.

I wish that, but I know it is not reality.

There is still a ton of tasks that need my attention.

And, in happier news, our younger daughter T is about to graduate with a master’s degree. We expect her to be moving back home to job search, so I need time for her, too.

I hope that all my blog-community friends are hanging in there and having a good time. I also hope that those of you who are blessed to have a parent still living will make an extra effort to contact them and to show that you care.

Because, someday, you may not still have that opportunity.
*****
Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “apparent/a parent”. Come join us! Find out how here:  https://lindaghill.com/2016/05/06/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-may-716/

SoCS badge 2015

 

Mother’s Day

Last year on Mother’s Day, I was with my husband B in Honolulu with both daughters E and T and son-in-law L.  You can read about it here and here.

This year, B and I will be having Mother’s Day brunch with both of our moms and my dad in the dining room at the senior community where they all live. I am especially grateful to be able to celebrate Mother’s Day with with my mom and mother-in-law this year because the past year has been rough for both of them health-wise but they are both much improved and able to enjoy the day, which is oddly summery for mid-May.

Meanwhile, E and T are on an adventure together in New York City. They converged there on Friday, E from Honolulu HI and T from Syracuse NY, and are staying with my sister. E is attending Japan Day in Central Park because six members from jpop phenomenon AKB48 will be performing. E’s master thesis is about the fandom, especially the online fans outside of Japan, so this is a great opportunity for her to make connections and conduct interviews for her research. T has just finished her semester in her master’s program and came down to help her sister for the weekend. It is also their only chance to get together this summer because T will be doing an internship assisting with botany studies in New York State parks. (Way to go, T!)

I’m so happy that they will have this special long weekend together. Their bond with each other is one of the true joys of being their mother.  While B and I won’t get to see them together, we will get time to see them separately. T will get a couple of weeks at home before her internship begins and we just made reservations to go to Hawai’i in June to see E while L is in London working on his dissertation research.

The generations of our family illustrate that being a mom is forever!

Mother’s Day

image

Today, I am celebrating Mother’s Day 5,000 miles from home.

For the first time in a number of years, I won’t be spending Mother’s Day with my mom and mother-in-law. They, along with my dad, however, enjoyed a special brunch together at GSV, the senior community where they live.

Even if you haven’t been following along on my previous travel posts, you may have guessed from the picture above that I am in Hawai’i. The orchid lei I am wearing was presented to me for Mother’s Day by my Honolulu resident daughter and son-in-law, right before we went in to St. Patrick’s Church, their neighborhood parish where we celebrated the wedding in November 2012. They sing in the choir for 8:30 Mass. Sometimes, Larry plays organ, but it wasn’t his turn this week. Beth did cantor, which was nice to hear, as we did so often in our home parish.

It was Good Shepherd Sunday, which was a happy co-incidence for Mother’s Day, as the care and concern of a shepherd mirror the care and concern of a mother for her children. We also got to sing some hymns that I don’t often get to sing, such as “This Is the Feast” and “Hail Thee, Festival Day.” Before the dismissal, there was a lovely blessing for mothers of all generations and varieties, including foster mothers, godmothers, and mothers-to-be.

I am happy that, for the first time in a number of years, I am able to celebrate with both of my daughters and, for the first time ever, with my son-in-law, who made Filipino food for Mother’s Day dinner. That’s another first, as I had never had Filipino food before. Dinner was so delicious! We had pork adobo, which was pork marinated in soy sauce and vinegar, chicken afritada, which is a tomato-based stew, pancit, which was thin noodles with vegetables, including snow peas, cabbage, carrots, and baby corn, and rice, because all Filipino meals must have rice!

Despite all the firsts, the constant has been my husband of almost 32 years, without whom I would not be a mom. Thanks, Brent, for your love and support that have made it possible for me to be the best mom I could manage to be for the last 28 years.