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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Mother's Gift

by Bridget Stuart

Ah. Mother's Day already. And I've been so frantic with my move to the new house, wrestling boxes and chairs and side tables and beds and two punch bowls into submission, that I forgot to send my mother a present. Or even a card.

I say to myself: I'll call her to wish her a happy Mother's Day. She won't mind that I forgot.

And it's true. She won't.

She knows how frightened I've been, single with children, picking through the wreckage of a torn-up marriage. She's done everything she can to help as I rebuild our safety and happiness brick by heavy brick.

My mother knows what it's like to flee and to lose everything in the flight, everything except the faith that something better is waiting if you can just hold on long enough to find it. She did it as a child.

Her mother was Sephardic, in a Europe that was starting to kill Jews. Her father, a Catholic, moved the family from one country to another, always just one step ahead of the anti-Semitism that he feared would tear his wife away from him. From Greece to Italy; from Italy to France; from France to Monaco. And one day, when my mother was only six years old, they took a shopping trip to New York…and could never go back. The Nazis had closed down every avenue of escape but one. My mother's family kept their lives, but forfeited everything they'd worked so hard to achieve in a lifetime. My mother went from being a pampered dolly to an immigrant in New York City, learning to speak English in a public school.

I've thought about this a lot since my own forfeit; what my grandmother and my mother lost. And what they gained.

When I was a child, I asked my grandmother if I could see the fabulous wedding dress she wore in a sepia-toned photograph on her bureau. She shrugged an elegant shoulder and told me no.

"Why not?" I asked. "Where is it?"

"Hitler took it," she said airily, in her fascinating accent, waving one slender white hand in the air. A gesture that said, what can you do? Accept it. Move on.

With the strength of my grandmother and my mother, I'm moving on, too. This great gift, they gave to me.

I can't give anything greater than the passing on of that gift to my own children.

Each one of you reading this has a mother--

happy Mother's Day.


At 9:46 AM, Anonymous gin said...

I get to be the first to wish you a happy mother's day!

At 3:21 PM, Blogger bridget said...

Yay! Thank you gin! Of course, the official date is Sunday, right? But I just know...carpe diem and all that. Happy MD to you, too.

At 8:47 AM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

Happy Mother's Day, Bridget and all those other mothers out there in the world. Mothers ROCK! :)

Bridget, your story brought tears to my eyes. What inspiring women your mom and grandmother are.

Have a great day!

At 9:16 AM, Blogger Tori Scott said...

Happy Mother's Day, Bridget! I hope your boys realize what a special mom they have.

At 9:51 AM, Blogger bridget said...

theresa, I'm so glad you got something from my post! Sniff, it's emotional for me, too. Happy MD.

And tori, you too! We are all special moms. I try to tell myself that when I'm standing at the front door at school time, holding one of my son's shoes in my hand while he tries to remember where he put the permission slip I signed the day before.

At 3:42 PM, Blogger Trish Milburn said...

Bridget, what an inspiring post. It makes us realize how lucky we all are. Your grandmother's comment about Hitler taking her wedding dress made me choke up. What strong female role models you had.

Happy Mother's Day to you and all the other moms out there.

At 6:08 PM, Blogger bridget said...

Trish, thanks for sharing your thoughts and the good wishes. I'm so glad you stopped by...


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