This year, Mother’s Day falls on my Dad’s birthday. He would have been 103! I think he would have been pleased that the Jean Maries that he planted along the east fence are all in bloom for such an auspicious date.
This is the third time since Dad’s death and the second time since Mom’s passing that Mother’s Day has fallen on May 12th. The occasions converged in 1996 and, again, in 2002. I think I notice because the final time we celebrated with both Mom and Dad on a May 12th Mother’s Day was just a few days before he was diagnosed with brain cancer. He lived less than three more months.
So, this is a bitter-sweet day for me – full of memories of both my folks, but especially of my father. They were opposites in many ways which is probably what made them a great team. My mother was the flamboyant one, the extrovert, the people-person; Dad was more contemplative, more conservative, yet less judgmental. Mom always said it was his “Bostonian upbringing.” Maybe so.
Dad never met someone he didn’t like. He especially admired people who had become successful financially – a goal is always aspired to but never attained. He was also a worrier – again, often about their precarious financial situation. I remember him pacing back and forth on Sunday mornings during the war years as he listened to the NBC symphony orchestra broadcasts over the radio. Unfortunately, I was too young to understand that the music was soothing for him. I still associate classical music with some sort of mysterious unhappiness.
I remember, too, the twinkle in his eye and the smile that played at the corners of his mouth when Mom did or said something a little outrageous. He adored her and the older I get, the more I realize, that he spent much of his life in a supporting role, making it possible for Mom to be herself.
That was so, in the little things, as well as the big: Mom was messy; Dad was neat. It was second nature for him to straighten and tidy after Mom had torn through the house like an enthusiastic tornado. Mom had the great ideas and grand schemes (saving Oysterville); Dad worked tirelessly at the details that would bring them to fruition (putting Oysterville on the National Register of Historic Places.)
Dad was the one I went to when I was troubled and seeking advice. I thought of him as the ‘Voice of Reason.’ Mom, on the other hand, was the one who provided inspiration. I feel fortunate that they were my parents and grateful for this day that seems especially created so I can honor them both. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom and Happy Birthday, Dad!