Brother’s Day

This is the last known family photo. From left to right:  my eldest brother who is 6 years older, me (rocking the squinty look), my mom, and my brother who is two years older than I. This was taken at a cemetery in Chicago in 1979 at my Grandpa O’Neill’s funeral.

The last time I saw my mom was on Mother’s Day in 1988.  I was married with two kids living in Los Angeles.  My mom was living in Orange County about an hour away.  We met half way in Long Beach at a Mexican restaurant.  She arrived with my brothers, I treated everyone to dinner, and gave her a Mother’s Day card and a really nice bathrobe.  That is what we call it in America. Over in the part of the world where I live now, they call it a housecoat.  Since my mom would often wear her bathrobe all day and night, housecoat is actually more apropos.

Cut to the following year, Mother’s Day 1989.  We had arranged to meet for brunch at a well known restaurant called Cattleman’s Wharf in Orange County.  It is quite near Disneyland, which is called “The Happiest Place on Earth”.  I went to church in the early morning and spent time with my own kids before driving down to meet my mom and brothers.  I was the first to arrive (I like to be on time or early, but I don’t like to be late). Time passed and I just sat and waited.  I wasn’t worried as my mom was notorious for being late.  She was living with my bothers at the time so they were all coming together.  I enjoy people watching so I sat there and distracted myself with all the happy faces arriving.  Folks were streaming in with armfuls of presents for their moms.

I had a present as well, a huge basket of bath goodies:  bubble bath, lotions and potions galore. My mom used to love to take baths and in fact would fall asleep in the tub only to awaken when the water had gone cold. Then she’d fill it back up with hot water and fall asleep again. This would go on the entire night.  So I figured this bath themed Mother’s Day present would go down a treat!

I was still sitting there waiting for my mom and brothers to arrive at the restaurant.  More time passed and then I started to worry.  And I was darn hungry too.  I could smell all the gorgeous food.  Sunday brunch is my favorite meal of the week!  And there was a made to order omlette bar, belgian waffles with trimmings such as fresh strawberries and cream.  Oh and there was a giant carvery station with beautiful roast beef, turkey and ham.  I think you get the point.

Remember, these were the days before smart phones, pagers, internet, snapchat etc.  I couldn’t even call from a phone booth.  Yes my friends, people used to go into a small closet like space, put money into a machine called a telephone and pay to talk to someone (on the receiving end) on their land line phone.  The reason I couldn’t call was that my mom and brothers had moved to a new house and they didn’t have a telephone hooked up yet.  So finally after more than two hours, my eldest brother walked into the restaurant.  He looked like he had just been mowing the grass, and indeed he had.  He was wearing shorts and a tank top, clearly not in compliance with this restaurant’s strict dress code.

My brother asked me to go outside so he could talk to me.  He had gotten a ride to the restaurant from a friend, and he came to tell me that our brunch date was not happening. Duh!  Okay so what was the deal?  Apparently our mom had gone out that morning without saying where she was going and hadn’t returned.  And he and my other brother were at the house cleaning and gardening and they realized that I would be waiting for nothing.  So I gave him the giant gift basket for my mom and we said goodbye.

I drove back to Los Angeles, and the first thing I did when I walked in the door was make myself a tuna melt sandwich.  I’ve shared the recipe on here before.  My ex and the kids were napping so I tried to be as quiet as possible.  Just as I was finishing the last bite of food he came down stairs.  He looked at me perplexed and said, “why are you eating if you just got home from brunch?”

So from that day on, our family has referred to Mother’s Day as Brother’s Day.  I guess my siblings made the most of their guy day together cleaning the house, doing yard work, watching sports on television and getting take out food.  Apparently my mom finally arrived back late that night.  She never called, of course they didn’t have a phone, so I don’t know if she liked her basket of goodies or not.

But here’s the good news.  This year I am spending Mother’s Day with my daughter and son in law and my two precious granddaughters in California.  We will also be with my aunt and uncle.  We will all go to church together and then go for a meal together.  Not Cattleman’s Wharf though!  I feel so grateful to my husband for organizing this trip from London so that I can be with my family.  He isn’t able to join us because of work commitments.  And while I would love for my brothers to be there as well, sadly that isn’t possible for other reasons. Yes I will think of my mom, wherever she is.  She brought me into this world.  I will always love her for that no matter what.  I’ve shared some of my feelings on here before, when it was her birthday.  When you don’t know if a person is alive or not it is hard to know how to deal with milestones and celebrations such as this.

However since life is for the living, and when I say living, I mean it in the sense of those participating in life (engaging, connecting and loving) then I am so happy to be able to be with my loved ones on this special day.  I feel the most honored title I will ever have is that of being a mother.  And now as a grandmother too.  Plus, it is a pure joy to see my daughter as a mommy herself.  Though my son is currently on a military deployment, and of course I will miss him, I had special time with him in Tennessee a couple of weeks ago.  So all in all I feel very blessed!

I know Mother’s Day in Ireland and the U.K. was celebrated in March.  And while I am an Irish citizen, our family still celebrates the U.S. Mother’s Day as our special day.  So I’d like to wish all the moms, moms to be, and grandmas a very wonderful and happy day!

Maternal Love,