Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Mother's Day without Mom

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Mother's Day without Mom

Article excerpt

I have been fortunate to have had strong females in my life to nurture and love me. So on special occasions, I've enjoyed paying them back with cards, gifts or dinners.

This year, though, I am at a loss. For the first time, I don't have someone to remember and thank on Mother's Day. My mother, Lucy Plavchak, died in March. My mother-in-law succumbed to cancer six years ago. All my grandmothers and aunts are gone, too.

The thought of this has been incredibly depressing. The reminders have been everywhere. Buy this perfume or piece of jewelry to thank Mom. Cards marking the occasion pack shelves in stores, from the large and ornate to the simple and understated, and florists' ads are everywhere. Restaurants remind us to make reservations for brunch or dinner to treat Mom.

I found myself avoiding or blocking out much of this, and until now I've succeeded. As a college professor, the end of the term for me was packed with work and special events. I had to catch up with so much after two months of visits to the hospital, then to skilled nursing and hospice facilities, followed by the trauma of grief.

But as Mother's Day approached, a weight started to form in my chest as I realized that I now am an orphan. As friends warned me, it's still difficult to grasp that, no matter your age. I'd well up with tears suddenly and become weepy.

I can take comfort in that I had few regrets when my mother died. She lived a good, long life of 91 years, and she enjoyed the company of her children, grandchildren, extended family and a vast network of friends. We talked every day and developed a routine the past few years: breakfasts on Sundays with cousins, lunches after haircut and other appointments or errands.

It wasn't always easy. We argued at times. Mom was strong and resilient, having suffered many losses in her life. She also was the tough parent in our family, keeping four children born within five years in line. She could bring me, and others, up short quickly. …

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