Hug Your Mom Tight For Me by Cindy Adams
I have reprised this column every Mother’s Day since springtime of 2000. That’s when I lost my own mom. It was akin to losing my whole world. Each year this special weekend is my only way of touching her.
I’m a mother lover. I print this annual tribute because I never loved any creature, big or small, man or woman, old or young, human or animal, the way I loved my mother. And not in this life nor in those the Spirits say I may pass through, will I ever love anyone more.
My grandmother, who came over from the old country, Russia, was a janitress in the New World. Cleaned stoops. Took in boarders. Made chicken soup so thick you broke your wrist lifting the spoon. And once washed my mom’s only party dress — pretend satin, trimmed with fake fur — then stuck it on a radiator to dry. The thing turned stiff. Grandpa never made a living. He was a tailor but couldn’t save mom’s only party dress.
They had five children. My mother Jessica, the baby, was born in Liverpool. Mother married a dentist but liked nothing about him including his teeth. She divorced him after I was born. An executive secretary, she was a single parent.
I was always sickly. But, no matter what, she was always there. She’d pawn things because we needed other things. She then married a dear man who loved me and sold insurance. Mostly I remember that she was always, always there for me.
She dug up my birth father when I was 12 so we could meet because he’d never once seen nor supported me. We met. I was distinctly ungood-looking at 12. He continued to not care to see me again. Years later as life changed for me, he then reached out. Mom and I both then told him what he could do with his reach.
Mother was beautiful. I was not. She had my nose fixed. Improved my hair line. Made me diet. Fed me little green Feosol tablets because I was always anemic. Gave me speech, posture and acting lessons. Took me to a modeling agent and announced: “My daughter is going to become somebody.” Underwhelmed, they said, “Maybe, but not here.”
At age 8, my class had a May 1 Maypole Dance in the park. We each bobbed and weaved, over and under, braiding our streamers into the Maypole. It was a chilly morning. Only my mother alone came bearing a sweater. I was mortified. Was I not a grown-up? No other mothers were babying their children. I hissed at her, “Go away.” She blinked at me. She went away. But there were tears in her eyes.
That happened civilizations ago, but I still cannot wipe that image from my mind.
Yearly readers request I reprise this Mother’s Day Valentine. Last week, again, a copy of 2007’s column was sent to me as a reminder. I think this is the part they want:
I can’t believe my mother is gone. Even in my heart the word is capitalized. Every winter she was in Palm Beach with an army of aides. Every summer in the Hamptons. Even when she lay unfocussed and unspeaking in the hospital bed in the country home I provided for her, she was in my life.
Even in those years when she didn’t know who I was, I knew who she was. I knew somewhere inside that shell was the stunning, bright, sassy, verbal, vibrant, witty, dynamic, fun-loving, killer lady who had forever been my everything, the core of my being.
The last time I hugged her an icy stab of fear sliced through me. I sensed an increased fragility. I wanted to crawl into that bed alongside her, but there was no way. No room. Besides, I was terrified I’d frighten her or, worse, the bed would collapse.
And so I pressed up close, my body flat against the protective side bars. All I could do was stroke that small head. And place against the cold steel railings of the hospital bed a stuffed teddy bear so those curled fingers might touch something soft.
I remember that gorgeous head when it was full of information. When it ruled worlds. When it was big and strong and knowledgeable and featured that powerful mane of thick red hair. It seemed tiny now. The hair white. Sparse. Shiny.
I was an only child. I married in my teens. So we were four. Then dad went, and we were three. Next, my husband, who was the same age as my mother. And then we were two. And now I’m one. And my only family are two yappy Yorkshire terriers — but at least they come from England as she did.
It’s tough. Tough to lose your mother. It is now a dozen years since I’ve lost my mother. It’s still tough. I’d give up everything to give her a gentle, easy, slow-moving hug today. Just one. One that wouldn’t alarm her. One that couldn’t be returned. Or even understood.
I’m aware that each Mother’s Day, for whatever reasons, families become aware there are wide gaps between many a mother and child. Not for me to sit in judgment.
It’s just that — if it’s within your ability — call. Buy flowers. Send a gift. Write a note. Tell your mother you love her.
I wish I could.
I can’t anymore.