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Irene Rubaum-Keller Headshot

When Mom is Dead

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Whether you lost your Mom this year or 40 years ago, Mother's Day is never going to be the same for you. There are lots of us out there whose Mother's have passed. This year, like every year since l997, we will be having our annual Motherless Daughter's Day luncheon in Los Angeles. I head up an organization called Motherless Daughters of Los Angeles, for adult women who experienced early mother loss. This time of year is particularly hard for us. The Mother's Day commercials have started and the constant reminder of what we have lost is in our faces.

I was seven when my Mom died. Since I can remember, Mother's Day has been a confusing and generally awful day for me. My Dad remarried when I was nine so Mother's Day was then about honoring my stepmom. It was never about honoring the memory of my Mom. It was almost like she didn't exist. Mother's Day was invented by a woman, Anna Jarvis, who intended it to be a memorial for her Mother who had passed. I guess the retail industries got wise to the fact that we are not likely to buy things for a dead Mom, so why not make it about live ones and sell them things instead.

Now that I am a mother myself, I dislike the day just the same. I thought it would help to at least be able to celebrate it on this side, but once again, it reminds me of my loss and of how fake this "holiday" is. As a Mom, every day is Mother's Day. It's our most important job and it comes with built in, daily rewards. You have to notice them, but they are there and much more precious than some chocolate or flowers. When my son spontaneously hugs me, or says things like, "Your face is so ugly it hurts my eyes", those are my Mother's Day gifts. (He is 11 so the ugly comment is said with a gleam in his eyes like he doesn't mean it). When he does well on a test, or has a solo on clarinet during the school's orchestral performance, or asks me for advice on how to talk to a girl that he likes, those are my Mother's Day gifts. They let me know that I'm doing a good job and that despite the ugly face comments, the little guy loves me.

So this year, once again, we who are motherless will gather to support each other and to honor the memory of our Mothers. We meet for lunch, this year we have an amazing speaker, and then we have our Circle of Remembrance Ceremony. We stand in a big circle, hold hands and say out loud, one by one, "Irene daughter of Selma." "Roni daughter of Helen." "Hope daughter of Marcia." It is very powerful to experience. It is as if all of our Mothers are there in that room at that moment smiling down and letting us know that they still love us, from wherever they are now.

So happy Mother's Day to you. If you still have your Mom, let her know how ugly her face is and how much you love her. If you have lost her, you are not alone.

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