Carol Silver Elliott

For Mother’s Day

Maybe Mother’s Day is really a “made up” holiday, one of those days that some call a “Hallmark holiday,” as in an excuse to sell cards and all the other things that go along with it. Of course, as a mother, I refuse to see it that way. I think it is a celebration of motherhood that is well deserved, and meaningful, to the vast majority of moms out there.

In my family I am known as the “tosser,” the person who throws things away. My kids always told their friends to hold onto their glass if they were drinking because if I saw it unattended, well, it was whisked into the dishwasher before they could blink. The same with extraneous things, things we don’t need anymore. But the same does not apply to all those cards and notes from the boys. I have a collection of Mother’s Day cards that go back a long time, from the time that crayon scribbles were the illustration, message and the signature to today’s cards, that reflect not just my children but the families they are building.

I am grateful for those mementos, grateful to have such wonderful children, grateful to be able to give love and receive it in return. Yet I find Mother’s Day to be one of those bittersweet days nonetheless. Having lost my mother when both of us were far too young, I have had more Mother’s Days without her than with her and, no matter how many years go by, I still have that sense of loss.

Of course I am not alone in this experience, many of us have lost our mothers and many of us continue to long for that one last conversation, for the chance to say the words we never said. As I’ve thought about it this year, I’ve decided that I will start a new tradition of my own, that I will take the opportunity of this “holiday,” to still honor my mother and to share the words that are still in my heart. While she is not there to receive it, I can still write the message, I can still visualize her hands holding it and her eyes filling with tears, as they always did when there was anything remotely sentimental.

I will tell her that I miss her, that I love her and always will. I will tell her about the grandchildren and great-grandchildren I wish she knew, I will tell her the triumphs and the tragedies that have befallen. And I will tell her how much I wish that there had been more time. There were so many things I thought we would do together, so much time I thought we would have for me to atone for being a not-so-easy child and an often defiant teenager. We had just reached the moment when I could see her for who she was and appreciate that, when I could imagine a different relationship for us as two adults; not just the patient parent and the headstrong child.

If you are among those who still have their mother, I hope that you take a few minutes for them this Mother’s Day, to thank them, to connect with them, to recognize them and to honor them. And if you are like me, maybe you too can find a way to express what you are feeling and to create continuity from the past to the present.

About the Author
Carol Silver Elliott is President and CEO of The Jewish Home Family, which runs NJ's Jewish Home at Rockleigh, Jewish Home Assisted Living, Jewish Home Foundation and Jewish Home at Home. She joined The Jewish Home Family in 2014. Previously, she served as President and CEO of Cedar Village Retirement Community in Cincinnati, Ohio. She is past chair of LeadingAge and the Association of Jewish Aging Services.
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