We Never Really Know the Same Motherly Spirit


Only a few minutes remain in this Mothers’ Day. Sunday night at Marklewood will then be steered via automatic pilot for “wee hour” television viewing. “Eastenders” on PBS is usually the one casualty and therefore saved for later in the week.

True, it’s a mindless soap that fell into excruciatingly repetitive story lines long before ABC’s Susan Lucci was halfway through her string of Daytime Emmy nods.

Back on track: There have been only a handful of mothers whose life, love, and profound nurturing I celebrate: my grandmothers, Dorothy and Paula, my mother Margaret, and my sister Paula. My grandmothers, however, weren’t necessarily of the equal opportunity variety.

The older Paula doted on my father, denying any real acknowledgment of my sister’s and my accomplishments. Dorothy, on the other hand, treated me as if I were the only male in her family, which was essentially true.

Conversely, she viewed my sister as too much of a rebel and was mortified that my sister converted. I never saw my grandmother go to church nor heard her even utter the name of one. She did remain well-versed in the traditions of parental martyrs.

Dorothy encouraged me to follow my instincts and heart. She consistently nagged my mother and my sister, often in a hateful, “Queen Bee-esque” manner. Yet, she allowed me the privilege of manhood or, for that matter, adulthood.

My sister Paula, whom I still call Polly, broke traditions from both family sides. She raised her three daughters with little help, unyielding in her sacrifice or devotion. She was perhaps the only supermom I ever knew.

But Mothers’ Day belongs to Margaret. Her graveside memorial was held on Mothers’ Day 1991. And to me, she was always perfect: kind, attentive, encouraging, and proud of her children. She’d celebrate the day with a couple of Manhattans. I’m certain that Angels are permitted to drink alcohol, though probably not a whiskey cocktail.

Alas! The “Eastenders” theme is queuing and Peggy is back with her misguided maternal small-mindedness. She was the blonde who romped with Benny Hill and then eased into small screen bitchiness. Nonetheless, Henry has wished her a Happy Mothers’ Day. If he so much as hears that voice, he is quick to jump onto the bed and actually watch the program (or at least go through the motions!)

That puss is such a devoted fan.

(Image: “Mothers” by Seymour Chwaste, Pushpin Graphics #64, 1976.)

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