A Motherís Day tribute


In my youth, it was a push-pull relationship -- needing her, yet pushing her out of my life at the same time.

My mother's life experience was so different from mine. She wed on the day the Second World War broke out, and cradled her first born in a bomb shelter. She wore an apron, ironed, and stood at the front door watching as I walked down the street to school, and waited for me at the door when I was coming home. She waited to hear the click of my return when I went out with friends, or stayed out far too late on a date. I quietly padded up the stairs, hoping she wouldn't notice my return. I was part of the freedom generation – peace, love, sewing groovy patches on our jeans and embracing life.

And then, as the shell of youth cracked and peeled, revealing in me a woman with a deeper appreciation and understanding of life's meaning, we easily fell into a new rhythm of mother and daughter; one that allowed our relationship to endure the tragedies of her life, and embrace the miracles of mine – my own children.

She was always there, the only other person whom my daughters would let hold them without screaming. The scent of love; we inhaled it, swaddled in those soft arms, cradled and supported, the perfect touch. I could breath with her presence in the room, and it filled me with calm, a thin gauzy layer of contentment, floating like a Chagall painting, the pieces of my life happily dancing in fine brush strokes.

My heart aches for her now, with such a poignant love that it fills my body.

She is so fragile. I hold her, and feel the bones beneath the pink sweater set. It is as if there were strings attached like a marionette, and God is holding her up. She rests her head on me, and I sit with her, and stroke the fine beautiful silver hair, and trace the shape of her face.

She loves to be touched now. She loves it when I tickle her face with kisses. "More," she says.

She has a longing in her eyes, which used to be brown, but now are laced with green, allowing me to see the legacy she gave to me. I just want to pick her up in my arms and cradle her, rock her gently, and hold her close, almost to infuse her with my love, so that it will penetrate her soul, so that she will feel the memory when I leave.

We moved her to an apartment; and her house, now for sale, seems a distant memory. She was the ingredient that filled the space between the walls with love. Now it is just an empty spirit with a few remaining bits of furniture paying homage.

She is so fragile. I hold her, and feel the bones beneath the pink sweater set. It is as if there were strings attached like a marionette, and God is holding her up.

The apartment contains a partial representation of the pieces of her life, all on one floor; the others are scattered between the homes of two sisters, feeling a bit misplaced. It's not time for us to have her things, and they are lying in wait, hovering.

Her apartment is lovely. She didn't scream, and she didn't hate us for "doing this" to her. It was hard for us to realize that she was just not capable of making the decision for herself. Her mind and body had acquiesced as we were tentatively, lovingly and surreptitiously planning her move.

I don't miss the house. I thought I would. I thought she would. The ghosts have taken up residence somewhere else. Her apartment is peaceful and happy, and she is comfortable there. I am comfortable there. I like to go and sit with her, especially in the evening. The sky welcomes the darkness through her window, and the glow of the stained glass windows of the nearby synagogue seems to fill the heavens with a sense of the mystic. The hum of Bathurst Street traffic feels safe, familiar. We watch Friends on television. She laughs. She really likes it – thank goodness for reruns – along with Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune. She plays along.

But then the realization catches me: People don't move out of that building.

My visits with her have taken on a new relevancy – touching, bittersweet and treasured. The scent of her love, her presence in the room fills me with a heartrending joy. Like the woman herself, they will be treasured for all time.


Jacqui Markowitz, "A Mother's Day tribute." National Post, (Canada) 9 May, 2008.

Reprinted with permission of the National Post.


Jacqui Markowitz is the Director of Communications for Frame of Mind Coaching and a free lance writer. She lives in Toronto with her husband and 3 children. She is currently working on her first novel.

Copyright © 2009 National Post

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