Since early childhood, I called my mom “Vovvy”. My dad was “Zazzy”. My siblings and I arrived at these nicknames after our youngest cousin David couldn’t pronounce his syllables correctly. We spent a weekend listening and laughing at his conversations to “Gwammah” and “Dzadzy”. Somehow, we morphed that into calling our parents Vovvy and Zazzy, and it stuck. This weekend will be my first Mother’s Day without my mom. Without “Vovvy.”
As my mom’s last years were spent declining into the abyss of dementia, before her death last February I had been losing her over and over again for 7 years. Years filled with difficult decisions and ever deeper levels of sadness.
Those days are now gradually moving behind me and this Mother’s Day I’m looking to honor my mother in new ways. My faith tells me she is now with God, with Jesus. No more pain, no more disappointments, no more memory loss. Just eternity stretched out before her with unlimited joyful possibilities. This Mother’s Day I celebrate her eternal happiness.
This weekend I am free to reflect on her very best years, and the very best memories:
Of walking arm in arm at the mall when we would go school shopping together.
Of her capacity to make a 4-gallon bowl of potatoes salad that we would eat on for an entire weekend at the beach.
The way she and my dad would stand on the porch waiting for their grandkids to arrive.
The way they would stand on the porch waving goodbye watching as I drove away after every visit home I made as an adult.
The first time she sang a solo at church: “It’s Time To Pray” from the musical “I love America”.
Her capacity to listen.
Her capacity to tell the most inappropriate jokes. To our pastor.
The uproarious sound of her laughter that could fill a room.
Her capacity to know the very worst behaviors of her children, and still love them unconditionally.
Each mom hopes to embrace and incorporate the very best she learned from her mother. I love to remember – and hope that I have inherited – my mom’s crazy side. Her Irish roots instilled a love of humor, crazy loud fun, and good times with friends and family.
I remember the time she came to visit me at college. We attended a homecoming concert that included an alumni playing a classical song on this huge, grand pipe organ, playing only with his feet on the foot pedals. Not being “high church” people, we got the giggles at the sound and spectacle of it all. While the ‘church ladies’ in front of us looked over their shoulders and gave us the evil stink eye, my mom leaned over to me and said “oh, get the hook!” We laughed so hard we cried.
I remember her friends in our neighborhood, and the many times I heard her laughing with Linda, talking for hours on the phone with Tina, enjoying a cup of coffee with Gladys and visiting Mrs. Rittenburg, a mostly housebound elderly lady who called my mom “Sunshine.”
I remember her best friend, Evie, a friendship that spanned 60 years.
With all of those memories in my heart and mind, I will honor and celebrate my mom by getting up each and every day and choosing life, embracing each day as an opportunity to learn, to laugh, to love, to strive and to thrive. To never give up or give in to disappointment. To pursue my gifts, my passions, my interests and make an investment in my family and my friends.
To live a life of not just happiness, but of purpose. Isn’t that what every mom wants for her children?
I will celebrate Mother’s Day by remembering the very best of my mom and all that she invested in me. That part of her will never die, not if I don’t let it.
I love you, Vovvy.
Happy Mother’s Day.