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You don’t what you got till she's gone

POSTED: May 9, 2010 4:30 a.m.

My mama was not cool. She mispronounced the names of rock groups in front of my friends, which made them giggle. She referred to The Beatles as "those old beetle bugs."

Mama could easily embarrass you, such as asking about regularity in front of friends, or worse, a date.

She could talk endlessly about anything, sometimes repetitively.

But she loved me like nobody else ever has or will and I miss her like crazy, especially on Mother’s Day.

During the days leading up to Mother’s Day, I hear friends and associates facing Mother’s Day with a certain amount of dread.

"We have to go to mother’s house this weekend," they’ll say. The "have to" is often with a tone of exasperation.

It’s particularly true among those in their 20s who don’t have kids. I did it, too. There is a moment, I’m not sure when it happens, that you wake up and realize that this might just be important.

The truth is Mother’s Day itself is not important, unless you are in the card, gift or florist business. The thing that is important is that we should take a moment at some point, whether in May or November, to tell those who wiped our noses and other body parts, kissed us when we went to school, and were there for us, that we love them.

Most mothers really don’t want to be showered with gifts, but a little of your time and love.

Mama didn’t talk about it, but bearing children did not come easy. She lost a baby girl who lived just one day. Her pregnancy with my brother had its complications and she nearly died with me. She was so moved by the efforts of the doctor that she named me for him.

I think we all would do just about anything for our children, but when your life is literally on the line by bringing someone into the world, you have a greater appreciation for a mom in that situation. I sure do.

There are mothers who for one reason or another are out of the picture. But there are so many good surrogates. Not giving birth to a child that becomes yours, doesn’t make you any less of a mother.

Just this week, a friend of mine marked the 52nd anniversary of the day the state of Georgia placed him in the forever care of the man and woman who would become his mother and father. His dad passed away several years ago, but his mom will no doubt be honored by him on Mother’s Day. Interestingly, he bears a striking resemblance to this wonderful couple whose only connection to him is love.

So to all you gripers and moaners, I have but one word: don’t.

One day, you’re going to wake up and find that your Mama is gone. It may have inconvenienced you to spend a little time with her on Mother’s Day. But it will leave an empty hole in your heart when you can’t.

Trust me; I know what I’m talking about.

Harris Blackwood is a columnist for The Times. His column appears every week in Sunday Life.



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