05/10/2012 03:09 pm ET

Becoming My Mom

Growing up, we could count on Mother's Day to broadcast whose mother was dead or alive. As we stepped into church in our scuffed Mary Janes, we'd be greeted by ushers with an urgent whisper: "Is your mother living?" If we piped up "Yes!" we were awarded a bright pink carnation to wear all day. If we mumbled "no," we were pinned with a white one to honor a lost mom. I used to watch the children and adults wearing those ghostly corsages and pray that day would never come for me.

It did.

I lost my Mom, Mary Finlayson, on May 29, 2006, and I can still feel her in my bones and hear her voice at every turn. For instance, today I am sure she would have called me from Florida to ask, "What are you wearing?"

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