Growing up, our Mother's Day tradition back home was to take mom for a picnic in the park after church. I remember it being the biggest deal to my dad. It had to go off without a hitch. There were gifts, of both the hand-made and store bought varieties. How do you say thank you to someone too special for words?
Sometimes we just don't know how to thank or even appreciate our moms appropriately. They give us everything, yet there is no one we will fight with more, get mad at, even harbor resentment toward, than this life-giving force.
This poem, by CMC professor Benedicte "Bee" Jeanson, seems to sum up this dichotomy better than anything I've heard in a long time. Bee read this tribute at Tuesday's Rotary Club meeting and agreed to let us reprint it.
To Oma: Redemption
I was ashamed of the way you spoke French, loud with a very thick accent, occasionally using words that do not exist.
Now I'm amazed that despite being 98 percent deaf and from the Netherlands, you went on to learn two foreign languages - French and English.
I was ashamed when you yelled at my grade school teacher because she thought I should be placed in special ed.
Now I am amazed that, because you fought for me and believed in me, I stayed on track and became a professor.
I was ashamed of the way you walked, tilted to one side holding your hip.
Now I am amazed that despite that terrible accident you were able to walk again - not just for necessity, but for pleasure.
I was ashamed when we carpooled with my schoolmates and you would drive sooooo slow.
Now I am amazed that you drove again after that dreadful and fateful accident that left two people dead.
I was ashamed of wearing the clothes you sewed instead of the brand clothes my friends were wearing.
Now I am amazed at how stylish I look in those vintage pictures with the unique clothes you made for me.
I was ashamed at family reunions when you let Opa's conservative relatives treat you badly because you were a foreigner and you used to be the family housemaid.
Now I am amazed that thanks to your patience and determination they finally accepted you.
I was ashamed when you forced me to go with you to the local hospice for the poor to visit the sick and the elderly when my friends were having fun together.
Now I am amazed at how I enjoy stepping into your shoes and spending time with seniors who need help. They have so much to share, and you taught me that.
I was ashamed when you rejected my boyfriends one after the other.
Now I am amazed at how you instantly knew they were not good enough for me. Remember the one who sold porn videos and cheap sunglasses to gas stations?
I was ashamed when last year you kept stopping when we shopped at the market.
Now I am amazed that you could go out at all because unbeknownst to you, more than half of your lungs were already ravaged by cancer.
I know the end is coming soon and I am truly ashamed that I did not recognize that you are indeed the most resilient, supportive, strong, compassionate and spirited person I know.
I'm so proud of you Oma, and I want to be just like you.
Admittedly, I am one of the lucky ones. My mom's always been there for me. And I've tried not to take that for granted. After my dad died we talked on the phone every day for more than five years. At my master's thesis exhibition in Savannah, Ga., I remember barking at my mom about how the food was arranged or some other meaningless thing, and someone said to me, "Oh Aaron, this must be your mom." How did you know, I asked. "You wouldn't speak to anyone that way except your mother."
So why do we treat our moms like this? I think it comes back to an adage that you dislike in others the things you dislike about yourself. We are so much like our parents it is difficult to get perspective on it. We hold them responsible, we need them, we rely on them, and yet we want independence from them.
Sunday is the one dedicated day a year to make amends, to celebrate family, to forgive yourself, and your mother, accept that no one is perfect, and hopefully, to be grateful for what you have, no matter what form Mother's Day may take for you.
To help you celebrate, a few places around town will be offering Mother's Day specials and brunches. Be sure to call your favorite restaurant and make sure they are open, and check the Summit Daily ads for special events as well.
Blue River Bistro is doing a Mother's Day Brunch from 10 a.m. -3 p.m. on Sunday. The offer includes $3 mimosas and Bloody Mary's, and half-priced bottles of wine-all wines, all day, in honor of mom. www.blueriverbistro.com, (970) 453-6974
Ready, Paint, Fire in Breckenridge is offering a Mother's Day special as well. Come in and get artsy-crafty with Mom this weekend and make pottery: mom paints for free on Mother's Day. www.readypaintfirebreck.com
Strolling around Breck with Mom after brunch? Pop into Ridge Street Wine and check out their artisanal cheeses, chocolates and hand-picked wines by sommelier/owner Anne Dowling. The shop is the perfect place for gifts or an outing. Check out www.breckwineandcheese.com for more information or visit them on facebook at www.facebook.com/ridge.wine.
The Red Mountain Grill is offering a full brunch menu and bottomless mimosas for Mother's Day from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Dinner special begin at 5, and moms eat free with some restrictions. www.redmountaingrill.com
The Dillon Dam Brewery will also hold a brunch from 11 - 3 p.m. Mom gets a free pint of beer or a house wine with the meal. Check out www.dambrewery.com.
The Alpine Earth Center is offering 10 percent off hanging baskets with varieties of florals. They will even care for it until you pick it up before June 1. Orchids, seeds and Bobo's birdhouses and feeders are also 10 percent off through Mother's Day. On Saturday, take an orchid class with Mom for only $10 each, at 8 a.m. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and reservations.
Murphy's is hosting a Mother's Day brunch from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Their patio will be open so you can enjoy some sunshine (hopefully) in a relaxing atmosphere with Mom.