Remembering Mom

I have massive storage capacity in my iPhone and never erase text messages. So I’ve got three years’ worth of messages from my mom, who made her first foray into texting in 2011. Here’s a text she sent to me about Paul Ryan during the Republican National Convention:


This will be the first mom-less Mother’s Day for my sister and brother and me, and it’s impossible to convey just how much that sucks. But we’re planning to have fun tomorrow anyway. Mom would kick our asses if she saw us moping around. She never could stand that.

So the three of us with our combined complement of children will go visit our grandmother, Mom’s mother. We’re bringing a picnic with Grandma’s favorite finger sandwiches plus noodle salad, banana pudding and iced tea.

Here are some of the things I’ll think about when I remember my mom:

My mom started a feud with our fundamentalist preacher neighbor once over public nudity. My sister and I — who were around three and four at the time — were running around under the sprinkler in our underwear. Preacher man told us to cover up and came over to tell Mom that it was unseemly to allow girls, even very young ones, to run around half naked. Mom told him that any man who found such a sight even remotely sexual was a pervert and that preacher man should focus on reproving that sin rather than hassling innocent children.

Once when my sister and I were around 14 and 15, Mom dropped us off at the bus stop on her way to work. She started to drive away and then stopped, backed up and told us to get in the car. She called in sick at work, called the school and told them we were sick, and we all three went to the beach for the day. She said she’d seen us looking so forlorn in the rearview mirror that she just couldn’t stand to leave us at the bus stop.

Mom used to write hilarious, ranty letters to companies about defective products. She was broke for most of her life (she was a single mom and nurse and not especially good at handling family finances) and always on the hunt for a bargain. So it wasn’t unusual for her to buy something that promptly fell apart, but man did she ever let the manufacturer know about it.

Mom also encouraged us to write letters seeking satisfaction when wronged by corporations. When I was in kindergarten or first grade, I failed to find the promised prize in a package of Planters Cheez Balls, and she helped me write a letter that began, “Dear Mr. Peanut.” I received a case of Cheez Balls in reply — for free!

My great-grandmother was a formidable lady who had everyone in the family cowed. She was ultra-religious (to the point of mental illness) and thought playing cards was a sin. One time while visiting our house, she caught my sister and me playing “Go Fish” and thundered, “God didn’t make those cards! Throw them in the trash can!” Mom said, “God didn’t make the trash can either!” It was the first time I’d ever seen anyone stand up to that terrifying woman.

Mom was a hippie who fell for every fad that came along during the 70s. One day we came home from school to find that she’d sawed the legs off the dining room table so that it was only a couple of feet off the floor and replaced the chairs with big decorative pillows for us to sit on. She painted the table Day-Glo yellow. It was fun until we realized this made it easy for our poorly trained pets to leap onto the table in the middle of our dinner.

This Sunday when we’re visiting Grams, we’ll play wiffle ball and throw Frisbees with the kids. We’ll feel sorry for ourselves for being without our mom, but we’ll remind each other that we were lucky to have had such a good mother, even if we did lose her too soon. No real point to this post except this: Moms — hug ‘em if ya got ‘em.

115 replies
  1. 1
    Thomas F says:

    Betty, thank you for the refreshingly kind comment. I found the story about the bus stop particularly affecting. How lucky you were.

  2. 2
    Joey Maloney says:

    What a lovely encomium. TIA.

  3. 3
    Meyerman says:

    I miss my mom, too. It’s been 21 years. Thanks for sharing some great stories of your mom.

    ETA: My mom didn’t suffer fools either. Raised in southern Ohio, so she was never nasty about it, but she didn’t back down when she saw someone being cruel or stupid.

  4. 4
    Miss Bianca says:

    Condolences on your mother’s passing, and the first sucky Mother’s Day without her. Sounds like she was a pistol, as my own mother would have said.

  5. 5
    cckids says:

    Oh, Betty. I’m sorry, again, about your mom. I’m sitting here bawling because we lost my Dad 3 weeks ago Monday, and it just hit me that Father’s Day is coming up & we’ll have to face that without him.

    He’d had leukemia for 9 years & had also fought off kidney & skin cancer, so this wasn’t out of the blue, but he’d been feeling so much better, more energy & just more engaged & comfortable in his life. He was a calm, steady presence in my life, & I miss him so much already.

  6. 6
    Mike S says:

    What a great read. A lot of that reminds me of my own mother and while she is still here her memory is failing with dementia. It was her sister that she stood up to and all of my cousins tell me how lucky I was because this aunt used to beat the shit out of all of them.

  7. 7
    SatanicPanic says:

    Beautiful post, I’ll be sure to give my mom an extra hug next time I see her

  8. 8
    khead says:

    Another lovely Mom post, Betty. I don’t think I ever commented on the post right after your Mom passed away so I wanted to be sure and add it was also a very touching tribute.

  9. 9
    MattF says:

    I have an old friend who was a big-deal staffer in Congress (chief-of-staff of an important House committee). She left DC when the R’s took over in the 90’s and went back to her home state to take care of elderly parents, until they died, a few years later.

    She always prefers the company of orphans, so we get along very nicely. It’s not what you’d call an exclusive club, but we’ve been through it and done our best. Remember that there’s a piece of your Mom in you, and take some comfort.

  10. 10
    Suzanne says:

    Hugs, Betty.

    Spawn the Younger woke me up by climbing into bed with me, and then having diarrhea in the bed. Good morning.

  11. 11
    beth says:

    What a wonderful post. Even after many years after she’s gone I still find myself reaching for the phone to call my mom to get a recipe or advice or just cause I’ve seen something I know she’ll love.

  12. 12
    c u n d gulag says:

    My heartfelt condolences on your recent loss!

    My Mom’s 82, with a sh*tload of medical problems.

    But, I’m still grateful (I’d say, ‘Blessed – except I’m an Agnostic) to celebrate Mother’s Day with her!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. 13
    Elizabelle says:

    Betty: your mom would love this column.

    Thank you for writing it. I am going to read it to my own mom, who will enjoy a good laugh.

    You are your mother’s daughter.

  14. 14
    Elizabelle says:


    Hugs. My condolences on losing your wonderful dad. I’m glad he had started to feel better. How sad to lose a great guy.

  15. 15
    Bob says:

    “She was ultra-religious (to the point of mental illness) ….”

    It’s just me, but seems you could ditch that “ultra.”

  16. 16
    Mj_Oregon says:

    Blessings, Betty. Mother’s Day is always bittersweet after you lose your mom. Mine’s been gone now for almost 20 years and it’s still a difficult day for me. Your stories about your mom always make me laugh, though. She was a priceless treasure.

  17. 17
    Roxy says:

    Thank you for sharing your memories of your mom. I was laughing out loud and crying at the same time. My mom and your mom would have probably gotten along.

    I miss my mom. This year will be four mother’s day without my mom.

  18. 18
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    @cckids: I’m sorry for your loss. It’s great to hear that he was feeling so much better at the end, as if he chose to leave on an up note.

    Betty, you mom was a pip, so it’s clear where you get it. I’m glad you’re planning a festive day for this year, sad though it will be.

  19. 19
    Elmo says:

    My mom was 53 when she died of lung cancer, in 1991. Tough, tough lady. Couldn’t abide swearing or any kind of vulgarity or rudeness. Could not abide it at all.

    Dad used to tell the story of a day, early in their marriage, when he – young brash Navy sailor that he was – was reading the paper, exclaiming his irritation over this and that, and must have said something unfortunate. Because he was suddenly aware that the temperature in the room had dropped below freezing, and yet there were two small, smoldering holes in the newspaper where Mom was staring at him.

    I was the youngest. By the time I came along, there was no more swearing in our house.

  20. 20
  21. 21
    J. says:

    What a great tribute to a great lady. I bet she would have loved this post. Thanks for sharing.

  22. 22
    Roxy says:

    Those texts from your mom are priceless. Hopefully there is a program or some way you can download them or make a copy of them to keep them safe.

  23. 23
    muddy says:

    She sounds like so much fun! I had a very difficult mother, but gift giving occasions were always good ones with her. Having grown up very poor, she’d be (act?) excited no matter what it was, but I liked to challenge myself to really offer something outstanding anyway. I guess I liked that she’d be nice on those days and I would have done something right for a change.

    She told me once about how she didn’t have a dolly when she was very little. I sewed a good size rag doll for her, with clothes you could change, little pinafores and the like. She carried it around the house under her arm for 3 days. It was very affecting. I still get things she would like, and then keep them for myself. For Dad I still buy him tools on the occasions, although they have both been gone a long time. I guess I didn’t want to give those events up.

  24. 24
    Elmo says:


    Cc, I’m so terribly sorry. I lost my own Dad on the day of the Sandy Hook massacre (which also happened to be my birthday). It’s hard, but memories help.

  25. 25
    bemused says:

    Awesome text! I’d say your mom was chock full of awesome. You should really write a book about her. Selfishly, I just want to hear more about this one of kind gal.

  26. 26
    KBS says:

    The first Mother’s Day without your mom can be so hard! I’m glad you’ll be surrounded with lots of love. Hang in there.

  27. 27
    Culture of Truth says:

    Good stories! What did you do with a case of cheez balls?

  28. 28
    bemused says:


    Thinking more about a book. At the very least, you and your sibs should jot down mom stories as you recall them. Your kids would cherish the history.

  29. 29
    Tokyokie says:

    Sorry about your loss, Betty. I lost my mother to Alzheimer’s about three years ago, and having no children and no surviving ancestors, Mother’s Day has become a holiday that I don’t even realize is approaching until it’s less than a week away. Of course, losing a loved one to dementia is losing her bit by bit, so by her last Mother’s Day, there was little point in finding a gift for mom, because she no longer understood the occasion or appreciated what was given to her. And I found that sad, because of her three children, I was the one who seemed to instinctively know which ceramic knickknack would be the one she’d like. I don’t even go into stores that sell that stuff any longer.

  30. 30
    Iowa Old Lady says:

    Lovely memories, Betty.

  31. 31
    shelley says:

    Great Moms, all way round.

  32. 32
    Russ says:

    My first without a Mom and what was nice is Hospice has phoned me and my five siblings this week.

  33. 33
    trollhattan says:

    Think my best laugh is sawing down the dining table. Sounds like the ’70s to me. It’s safe to say we all miss your mum. Best wishes to you.

  34. 34
    different-church-lady says:

    Nut. Gravity. Distance. Tree. All that all that. ;-)

  35. 35
    John O says:

    What a lovely post. Thanks for sharing.

  36. 36
    ruemara says:

    It’s good you had a mom like that and that you knew how great she was. Big hugs and be forever grateful for it.

  37. 37
    Dee Loralei says:

    My first one without my mom too. I was driving through my neighborhood on Thursday and saw a little lady driving a blue Prius and she looked exactly like my mother. I kept getting teary-eyed as I was out and about on errands. And after a good cry when I got home, I decided that it was my mother and she wanted me to know she was still around.
    My son and I were supposed to play in a gambling event at an establishment in Tunica this afternoon, but I decided if my tears were gonna fall today, they’d best fall in the garden she loved. So that’s what I’m doing . And tomorrow my son and father are preparing a great feast for me, an aunt, one of her friends and one of our neighbors. And I’ll remember some of my favorite Gayle stories and enjoy the day as best I can.
    My mom and your mom woulda been great friends irl, Betty. I hope they found each other in the afterlife, if there is such a thing.

  38. 38
    gogol's wife says:

    Your mother sounds great. Thanks for telling us about her.

  39. 39
    Kathleen says:

    My condolences, Betty, and my thanks for your lovely word picture. I’d love to see that text from your mom on a sampler. It’s a classic.I lost my mom 20 years ago and I still miss her. I didn’t realize until now how much she influenced me and I thank her every day.

  40. 40
    martha says:

    My first Mothers Day mom-less too. We were at the farmers market this morning buying flowers from our regular stand and the woman cheerily asked me if we had big plans for Mothers Day. I responded, almost immediately, no, not tomorrow, no moms. ( I lost mine in November and mr m lost his 10 years ago.) Her face fell and she looked at me and told me that she lost her mom…this week. OMG. Well, let’s just say we had a moment.

  41. 41
    aimai says:

    Thank you for the stories Betty. Your mother sounds like such an incredible woman. I think you could absolutely do a marvellous “Get Your War On” style book with your mother’s texts and stories as the dialogue with your stick figure drawings as the graphic. I think it would be hysterical. You are inspiring me because my mother, though a totally different person from your mother, is also one of the funniest most magical people I have ever met. I think I should look at some of her kooky texts to me and put them together for my daughters to enjoy.

    Hugs to you on Mother’s Day without your Mother. She is there with you, of course. She’s not a hole in the picture, she’s the space around you and your sister and your daughters that she filled up, shaping you all. Now you will all expand out, into that space, adapting the things she brought to you as you go forward.

  42. 42
    opiejeanne says:

    I love reading about your mom. She sounds wonderful.

    My pack of ingrates are all out of town tomorrow, and I will probably only hear from one of them when she calls to remind me to feed her cats.

  43. 43
    Scout211 says:


    Thank you so much for such a lovely tribute to your mom.

    The ones of us who have lost our moms appreciate a Mother’s Day thread that honors moms who have died.

    For me, it’s been 11 years but really much longer as my mom slowly disappeared over a period of 9 years before she died. Alzheimer’s disease really sucks.

    The memories of better times are comforting.

  44. 44
    rikyrah says:

    Wonderful tribute to your mother. This will be the 5th year without my mother on Mother’s Day. I still miss her.

  45. 45
    drkrick says:


    “She was ultra-religious (to the point of mental illness) ….”

    It’s just me, but seems you could ditch that “ultra.”

    It’s not just you. There are other assholes.

  46. 46
    dp says:

    Betty, have a great Mother’s Day, because you had a great mother!

  47. 47

    Beautiful mom tribute Betty. My mom is getting up in the years and I treasure every day she is still with me. She’s a tough old gal who grew up in post WWII, midwest poverty. Suffice to say she does not suffer right wing conservatives or fundamentalist religious loons lightly – in fact, her language when speaking of them, can get quite salty at times. Nonetheless, she shaped a fair portion of my world view and I thank her for it every day. Best wishes to all the moms out there this Mother’s Day.

  48. 48
    Ruckus says:

    My mom was like yours in that she didn’t suffer fools either. I was sick a lot as a kid and had to stay home from school a lot. She made sure I did homework so that I could maintain an A average, but my big deal was to be able to read. The city library was pretty good but they had kids and adult cards. When I had pretty much read the books worth reading in the kids section I ask for an adult card. “Of course not” was the answer. So at 10 or 11 mom took me down to the library and told them to give me a card. “He’s not old enough” Mom went ballistic. Who the hell do think you are, you have a kid that wants to read and learn and you say no? I thought she was going to reach over the counter and smack the poor woman. But I got the card. Every week 6 books, max to check out and no one ever said a word, no matter what I wanted to read.
    Moms are great. OK most moms are great. Mine is gone now too.

  49. 49
    Dee Loralei says:

    @aimai: that was just so beautiful. I’m gonna adapt it for when we finally have mom’s other wake and scatter her ashes with her Okie family. Thanks for that.

  50. 50
    Villago Delenda Est says:


    Every single time you write about your mother, I wish I had known her, because it’s very obvious from your writing about her that she was witty, had common sense, but not in the Earth-is-obviously-flat sense of the teahadis, intelligent, and an overall mensch.

  51. 51
    Ash Can says:

    I’m so glad I decided to take a break from yardwork and take a peek at this blog, because this has to be one of the best posts I’ve ever seen here. Betty, my heartfelt condolences to you and your family on your first Mother’s Day without your mom. I’m sure you’ll have a great time with your grandmother, and may your reminiscences be a source of joy for all of you.

    Also, I enthusiastically agree with the suggestion that you write a book about your mom. Between your considerable writing skills and your mother’s sheer colorfulness, it would surely be a masterpiece.

  52. 52
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    My mother once said to me (I was a real pia as a teen), “If you make me choose between your father and you, OUT YOU GO! God may have given you to me, but I CHOSE him!” And did she ever. When she told my very proper Southern Baptist grandmother she was going to marry this papist “Polack” from the south side of Chicago (he was actually Slovenian from Joliet but that was close enuf for Grams) Grams told her she was going to banish Mom from the family. Ma said “OK.” and started packing her bags. Just a few months before the wedding the festivities kicked up in Korea and my old man who was in the Ready Reserves got called up. He’d already gone thru the Big Blow and knew how bad things could get and he had no illusions, so he suggested they postpone the wedding until after (if) he got back. Ma said, “If we don’t get married now, we never will. Your choice.” They got married. More so much more, but like your mother Betty, my mother hated moping. So none of that.

  53. 53
    Botsplainer says:

    The whole card thing has left me pretty conflicted and kind of angry. I bought my mother a gift, and am taking her, my wife and my dad to a scenic place for brunch.

    Now for the bad-despite me looking and hating all the sentiment in my searches, my wife insisted on me buying a card for my grandmother. Thing is, my grandmother finally deteriorated, at 97, to the point where my mother had no choice to put her in a nursing home this year. When she was in her mid 50s (just a couple of years older than I am now), she decided that she and my grandfather would be old people, and “need” help around the house. Groceries, lawn care, laundry, painting, taking out trash. Starting 45 years ago, my mother was over there 3-4 days a week – 20 years ago, it shifted to a daily need. It wasn’t that she was physically incapable – it’s that she was lazy, unappreciative, prickly, critical, demanding AND a white trash wingnut who hated pretty much everybody. She stunted my mothers development, snarled any time my mom might want to go on a vacation, bitched if they went to a play or a movie and insisted that by staying in her own house she wasn’t “being a burden”. Conversing with her was a nightmare, it was solely about her fears and interests. Before he died, my grandfather tried to talk some weak contrition about her to my mom.

    Several years ago, Dad tried to tee off on me about not going over to my grandmothers to take up some chores. As I put it directly to him, “how many people does it take to take care of one lazy, selfish, nasty and demanding old woman? if I’m over there, I’ll just throw her a fucking Yellow Pages and tell her that everything she needs is in there”. He quieted down on that, immediately.


  54. 54
    srv says:



    needs to be a thing.

  55. 55
    John Weiss says:

    Betty C. I think your mama raised you right. What a fine lady she must’ve been.

  56. 56
    srv says:

    @Botsplainer: When my dad went to Vietnam, my mothers siblings suggested she move back home, where she could take care of my terminally ill grandmother while raising us.

    Like, what else did she have to do? And oh, by-the-way, how come the floor hasn’t been mopped?

    I love my uncles, aunts and cousins, but now that her 92 year old sister is in trouble (with two live-in children, one who is badly off herself), there have been some hints that the baby sister (79) should come help out…

    Mom don’t play that game anymore.

  57. 57
    SenyorDave says:

    Gotta like anyone who would write a letter to a company that started off with “Dear Mr. Peanut”.

  58. 58
    Vico says:

    Fabulous. This got me to thinking of all the wonderful things about my mother instead of moping around, as I usually do on Mother’s Day weekend, feeling sorry for myself for not having her with me.

  59. 59
    low-tech cyclist says:

    Betty, I just read your story about your great-grandmother and the cards to my wife, who I think I’ve mentioned grew up down your way, and (probably didn’t mention this, but you’ll find it unsurprising) had a grandmother with the same attitude towards cards. She thought that was a hoot.

    Just got back awhile ago from taking my mom out to lunch. At 87, she’s getting pretty frail and who knows how much longer we’ll have her with us. Her memory’s also going, which makes conversations with her kinda go in circles. But I’m not ready to say goodbye to her yet.

  60. 60
    bemused says:

    I just spent the last 5 minutes amusing myself comparing images of Paul Ryan and lemurs.

  61. 61
    ohsuzanna says:

    What great memories, particularly the bus and beach experience. No wonder you miss her – and what a lucky person you were to have her. I bet she felt lucky, too. Happy Mother’s Day.

  62. 62
    Gar says:

    This is my first Mother’s Day since my Mom passed five weeks ago tomorrow. It has been such a sad month. I had a heart attack on Thursday night and was in the ICU when my youngest sister came in to tell Mom died that Sunday. I was very close to my Mom. We argued about History and Politics. Worked on Genealogy and Cooking. I find no joy in any of those hobbies now. She was just 76. Mom had been ill with colon cancer for the past year but we thought she had turned the corner. We had made plans for the fall with my Aunt for a genealogy trip. She was also waiting for her first great-grandchild. She missed out on that event by a week. Mom would have loved holding that child, made my Dad get her a new rocking chair. My Dad is at a loss. They had been married 58 years. This has been a rough time for our family.

  63. 63
    sparrow says:

    I love your stories Betty… if you ever write a book let us know, I’d buy it in a heartbeat.

    It’s funny, your anecdotes made me think back to anything similar in my own life, and I basically came up empty. Not surprising as I had a very difficult relationship (still do under the veneer of adult politeness) with my strict, religious parents. You’re very lucky.

    The only similar thing I can remember was that in high school we had regular “pep rallies” that I found completely ridiculous and a pointless waste of my time (I was the girl reading Checkhov under the desk in religion class and writing my own computer programs in “typing” class). Almost every time, I could “call home sick” and my mom would come get me, totally knowing it was just to get out of spending an hour and a half of pep rally. That was good.

  64. 64
    satby says:

    Betty, you’re a living tribute to your mom! I hope my own kids remember me as fondly when I’m gone. Best part is, I’m sure your mom knew how much you loved her, and that’s all we ask really, isn’t it?

  65. 65
    chelsea530 says:

    That was a very sweet, loving tribute to your mom, and it’s not a surprise that you’re her daughter. Strength, compassion and self-sufficiency is something we need to pass on to ours.

    Happy Mother’s Day.

  66. 66
    gbear says:

    I’m feeling sorry for my neice. She lost her mom (my sister) unexpectedly on Tuesday, her mom’s birthday was on Wednesday, Mother’s Day is on Sunday, and the funeral is on Monday.

  67. 67
    satby says:

    @Botsplainer: I had to deal with a bit similar circumstances in my former SO’s family (in fact, his toxic mother is a major reason we broke up). I struggle with being kind to people like that, I think fear is a huge reason why they are that way (or narcissism, but then I have an even harder time with being kind).
    No suggestions, just empathy, not all moms are good ones.

  68. 68
    satby says:

    @gbear: that’s terrible! So sorry for your family’s loss.

  69. 69
    Luna Sea says:

    Thank you for sharing your mother with us – just love your stories of her. You do an amazing job giving us a real sense of who she was, and her light really shines through you. I used to play hooky with my mom, too – we’d usually go shopping, prepared to tell anyone we saw that we were just coming from the doctor. Not sure which one of us loved it more. She died 11 years ago now, sadness has faded into good memories and musings of what she would say or do when I see anything that reminds me of her.

    I just found out a couple weeks ago that I have cancer (dealing with it, surgery will most likely take care of it, that’s not the point), and all I can think about is I wish my mom was here. She gave the best sit-on-your-bed-and-hold-you kind of hugs when you felt like your world was crumbling. (And made great mac & cheese from scratch, with little pockets of crusty cheese in the corner of the dish… but I digress.) Funny thing is, if she was here, I probably wouldn’t tell her for fear of worrying her. Still, I miss that hug.

  70. 70
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    Betty, I just love your mom. What a great ol’ broad she was!

    The first Mother’s Day (first everything) is really hard after a death. My mother died in October 1975, and even after 39 years I still wince when Mother’s Day and her birthday come around.

    Please add my signature to the petition urging you to write a book that captures all these great stories about your mother. Your posts about her are some of the best Balloon Juice posts in existence, and I think her spirit and humour need to be shared with a wider audience.

    Instead of stick figures, as suggested above, you could illustrate it with pictures of wine bottle foil sculptures.

  71. 71
    divF says:

    Betty: a great piece. Your mom and I are pretty close in age, we probably would have gotten along just fine.

    My mother died in 1980, more than half a lifetime ago, and we have no children, so Mothers’ day is mostly a holiday by proxy through my in-laws. Madame divF is off with her mother for a 10-day trip to New England (where my in-laws are from) and then to New York (which my MIL last visited in 1950). At 85, my MIL is a loving and down-to-earth woman, still in decent shape physically and mentally, but this is probably her last trip East. Mother-daughter trips are something of a tradition (Madame is one of three daughters), and I do what I can to encourage them.

  72. 72
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Luna Sea:

    I wish your mom were here to hug you and sit on your bed while you go through this scary experience. It’s nowhere near the same thing, but virtual long-distance over-the-intertoobs {{{hugs}}} to you anyhow. Please let the BJ community know if there’s anything at all we can do.

  73. 73
    Redshift says:

    I’ll definitely give my mom an extra hug when I see her. My mom was a high school teacher before we were born (she taught Warren Beatty and Shirley Maclaine) and once we were all old enough, she taught preschool until she retired. She got into baking bread when I was a teenager, and after a while made all of our bread, which was great.

    I got my habit of always voting from her (and my dad), and my Democratic politics, in part. (My dad mostly voted Republican, back before they were crazy, but wasn’t as vocal about it.)

    I could go on, but I’ll just say that she’s an all around great mom.

  74. 74
    Luna Sea says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Oh thank you for that. Seriously, just coming here and reading the posts and comments is all the help I need. I mean, where else can you find everything from recipes and garden chats to political battles and kittehs! and puppehs! (and frogs and hedgehogs and….) and Subarus in fields and lost mustard jars, I could go on forever. This place (as well as good friends & family) has kept me going through day to day life for years now, this is just one more thing to conquer. So y’all just keep doing what you do!

  75. 75
    aimai says:

    @gbear: So sorry for your niece. What a tough run of memories to bind together in a single week. I don’t know what your family tradition is like but in my family we generally don’t do funerals but rather memorials about a year later–it gives people time to get together with their thoughts, book a room, and really celebrate instead of mourning. Maybe next mother’s day could be a memorial/celebration for her mother rather than just the sad memory of a funeral?

  76. 76
    aimai says:

    @Luna Sea: Just wanted to come back and give you some hugs, Luna Sea. I know exactly what you mean about your mother sitting on your bed. I’ve been sick all week and my mother, who is 84, was a little bit sick too and I wouldn’t have let her get near me anyway for fear of her catching what I had. But she held my hand via text and that was so important to me–not just because it was reassuring but because she kept reminding me of how important I am to the other people in my life, how important it is that I take care of myself even if that means skimping on the things that I usually do for other people. So that’s what I want to say to you that your mother would surely say to you if she could–not just reassurance and hugs and tea and cookies but: you matter and getting into the best health really matters.. If you have to lie around and eat bonbons, or let the dust bunnies pile up, or refuse to do some important task–that’s what you need to do. She orders you to do it. She writes you that note saying “Luna Sea is excused today.” That’s the power of motherly love. XXoxooxo

  77. 77
    Ruckus says:

    @Luna Sea:
    For my mom’s good points and there are a few, hugs were not among them. We just didn’t do that in our family. First time I can remember hugging my dad was when he was 75 with Alzheimer’s. He recognized me that day, just grabbed me and gave me a hug. Don’t really remember hugging mom but I’m sure it happened. And I remember my favorite shirt from when I was 4.

    Betty, another vote for a book about your great mom. Maybe hard for to do but I’ll bet it would be an event that you’d greatly appreciate in years to come.

  78. 78
    Tara the Antisocial Social Worker says:

    Hugs to you, and to everyone going through a mom-less Mother’s Day. My wife lost her mother last year, and the barrage of commercials for Mother’s Day this-and-that is really getting her down.

  79. 79
    Luna Sea says:

    @aimai: I’m so sorry to hear about you being sick, but so glad your mom was there with you via text — good on her for using technology! It’s amazing what a comfort a few words on a tiny screen can be. And thank you for everything you said — I think I’m printing that out and keeping it close at hand. Hope you and your mom feel better!

  80. 80
    Luna Sea says:

    @Ruckus: I do hope there are other things as good as hugs. My father was not a hugger, and never said I love you. When my mom died, he was battling Alzheimer’s and got far worse after she was gone. But one day after visiting him, he got sad I had to leave, and walked me to the car. I got both a hug and “I love you” out of the blue, nearly knocked me off my feet. He died a year after my mom. Do I wish he could have given that kind of love all my life? Yup. But do I hang on to the memory of that moment like none of the other years matter? Better believe it.

    And I add my vote for a book from Betty!

  81. 81
    cckids says:

    @Gar: I’m so sorry to hear about your Mom and your own health problems. Her missing out on the new baby is so sad, you can’t help but think “what if”. I hope you find some healing with your family.

  82. 82
    Mnemosyne says:

    I always have weird dual feelings about Mother’s Day, because my mother died when I was 7, but my dad re-married when I was 10 and my stepmother has been “mom” for over 30 years now. So some years I lean more towards being grateful to my (step)mom and all of the love she’s shown me over the years (even though we’re very different people) and other years I spend a lot of time on “what ifs” and wondering how my life would have been different if my “real” mom had lived.

  83. 83
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    Condolences on your mom’s recent passing (still so raw), and your own heart attack. As a survivor of one for-sure heart attack and one near-miss, and quadruple bypass surgery, I just can’t imagine dealing with all of that at once.

    Please be kind to yourself.

  84. 84
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    Oh gbear, that just sucks all around. I am so very sorry.

  85. 85
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    Oh gbear, that just sucks all around. I am so very sorry.

  86. 86
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Luna Sea:

    I just pronounced your nym out loud! LOL!

  87. 87
    Luna Sea says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Heh heh, yup, a little very quiet humor about accepting the crazy stuff in life….

  88. 88
    Warren Terra says:

    Beautiful remembrance.

  89. 89
    Singular says:

    Betty, your post is the nicest thing on the intertubes I’ve read this year. I’ve had a right shitty day, and going to bed thinking about my mum will be the best medicine.

  90. 90
    Ruckus says:

    @Luna Sea:
    It’s OK, I evened everything out, held him in my arms as he died.

  91. 91
    sharl says:

    Wonderful remembrance Betty. Your words and those in comments provided amusement and got me weepy all at once. [Just over four years for me.]

    And another vote for the book idea. The idea from upthread about using your wine foil figurines as illustrations is wonderful, though I don’t know how long those take you.

  92. 92
    Luna Sea says:

    @Ruckus: I really believe being there with someone as they die is one of the hardest things we face, but one of the most important. We don’t always get the chance, though. All of us kids (7 of us in our 40s to 60s) got to be with my father. My mother snuck out — she went into the E.R., was doing fine, waiting for a room, we all went home thinking we’d get all our stuff, be ready for the round-the-clock thing for the next few weeks as we’d done often before. She died a couple hours later with no one around. Funny, I was closest with her, always thought I’d be there with her. We were all much more distant from my father, but in a way, he needed it more.

    I hope you take great comfort in being there with him.

  93. 93
    Ruckus says:

    @Luna Sea:
    I did. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be but we were expecting it for quite a while. I was living/working on the other side of the country and several times had to be ready to jump on a plane at a moments notice. Alzheimer’s is a insidious disease, one day it’s not so bad, the next is worse than ever. But bit by bit it only gets worse. In a long course like his you began to expect the end and then at some point you began to think that it is past time, that life is done with them and shouldn’t it just let go. That sounds harsh but both the person and everyone else has been living/suffering with it for a long time. For a while it is mostly mental but then the last few years it becomes real physical as well. It takes a big toll.

    It was like book ends for the decades we worked with and for each other, let alone being father and son. It was also one of the few times I felt a real human connection with one of my parents. Most of the time there was a palpable distance.

  94. 94
    tsquared2001 says:

    Mom was a social worker for 30 years at the United Way.

    She married a black man when that simply was not done.

    That cost her a decade before she talked again to her brothers.

    She had three sons in 7 years and after a five year break, an additional two daughters in 18 months.I cannot even imagine what it must be like to parent those disparate ages

    She was convinced to the day she died that she invented the idea of quality time.

    She used to embarrass the hell out of me when I was a kid with her telling just about anyone where they needed to stick their head but damn, if I don’t do exactly the same kind of shit.

    Mary Rita has been gone 12 years and every Mother’s Day since has been kind of odd.

    My sympathies, Betty

  95. 95
    jl says:

    If that text is a typical example, Ms. B Cracker should feel to share more of them on the blog, in memory of her mom.

  96. 96
    tsquared2001 says:

    @Luna Sea: That was the most comfort to me when mom passed after her stroke; there were so many people at the hospital when we said good bye that we had to go into the hospital room in groups of four.

  97. 97
    Fort Geek says:

    My room’s all dusty.

    Your mother was one helluva woman, Betty.

  98. 98
    SarahT says:

    Very late to the party but just have to say that the women of the Cracker Family rool like Ozzy.

  99. 99
    harold says:

    I rarely say much here, but I’d like to raise a cup of good cheer to your Mom

  100. 100
    harold says:

    I rarely say much here, but I’d like to raise a cup of good cheer to your Mom

  101. 101
    harold says:

    I rarely say much here, but I’d like to raise a cup of good cheer to your Mom

  102. 102
    harold says:

    I rarely say much here, but I’d like to raise a cup of good cheer to your Mom

  103. 103
    harold says:

    I rarely say much here, but I’d like to raise a cup of good cheer to your Mom

  104. 104
    harold says:

    I rarely say much here, but I’d like to raise a cup of good cheer to your Mom

  105. 105
    harold says:

    I rarely say much here, but I’d like to raise a cup of good cheer to your Mom

  106. 106
    harold says:

    I rarely say much here, but I’d like to raise a cup of good cheer to your Mom

  107. 107
    harold says:

    I rarely say much here, but I’d like to raise a cup of good cheer to your Mom

  108. 108
    harold says:

    I rarely say much here, but I’d like to raise a cup of good cheer to your Mom

  109. 109
    harold says:

    I rarely say much here, but I’d like to raise a cup of good cheer to your Mom

  110. 110
    harold says:

    I rarely say much here, but I’d like to raise a cup of good cheer to your Mom

  111. 111
    Aleta says:

    My mom was difficult to be with, and I miss her so much.

  112. 112

    Loved this Betty! :)

  113. 113
    GHayduke (formerly lojasmo) says:

    Copy those texts into paper and pen. They’ll be priceless to you when your phone bricks, as devices with important data on them invariably do.

  114. 114
    DougJ says:

    Great post.

  115. 115
    EthylEster says:

    re: banana pudding

    with vanilla wafers?

    my mom used to make the best banana pudding with the bowl always lined with vanilla wafers.

    harold, wtf?

Comments are closed.