The Card Unpurchased

Something about Mother’s Day 2017 hit me hard—when I realized there was a card unpurchased.

With intense scrutiny do I select cards for special occasions. Occasions like Mother’s Day.

For my wife I try to alternate between cards which express my deep appreciation for how she invested her life into the lives of our children and grandchildren. On alternate years, I pick a card as over the top humorous as possible. Either way expresses my appreciation for my fabulous wife and all she does.

With equal care I sort through cards for my mother-in-law. She is a special woman, for me because she raised a daughter who became my wife. Now in increasingly frail health I appreciate her more and want to express my gratitude for how she welcomed me into her family.

For my daughter, who lives out of state, I select mostly serious cards. I want her to know how I appreciate how much work it is to be a mother. I also wish I were closer to be of more assistance and to enjoy my grandchildren. That is currently not feasible. Part of me remains amazed that the little baby with a scrunched nose, whom I held, fighting back the apprehension I might somehow break her, is now a mother of two.

The final card I selected was for my daughter-in-law. My wife and I prayed long for the future spouses of our children. I especially prayed for my son’s spouse. My wife called them the LPIs—Life Partners If. This card I pick with special care (in spite the fact that the daughter-in-law selection seems the leanest). How I want to insure her how much I appreciate her being a part of my family and the mother of three of my grandchildren. A card is an expression (albeit inadequate) of my delight she is the love of my son and the mother of my grandchildren.

This year as I took a final look at the cards before heading to the register a realization hit me hard. There remained a card unpurchased—a Mother’s Day card for my mother. I don’t know why six years after her death this hit me so hard. The tears came, unashamed in the store. In the quietness I grieved the absence of my Mom, represented by the absent card.

For only a two-year period in my adult life did I live within reasonable driving distance from my parents, making holidays with her infrequent. Still my Mother sent the birthday, Christmas, and anniversary cards. I smile at the recollection of her calling and saying, “I couldn’t get ahold of your brothers and sister, and just wanted to talk.” How delightful those times were when we visited and caught each other up on family events.

Then she became forgetful. The calls and cards became more sporadic. Eventually I was the one to call and she’d talk, but more and more she’d give the phone to Dad who did the visiting. When Dad had some medical issues, in the spring of 2010 I planned a trip to visit them. How delighted Mom was for our visit. Melodie, my wife, did most of the cooking, but Mom puttered around the kitchen helping as she could. How tragic—the “master chef” of my childhood no longer remembered how to cook. She fell asleep in her recliner more frequently and no longer took her Bible. Dad privately informed me that she had trouble reading and didn’t want to be embarrassed if someone asked her to do so. Such a change from the woman, who as a short-term missionary in India, sponsored the Bible reading competition among the students.

Still she regaled us with stories, often repeated a couple hours later, and delighted to tell us what the best items were on the menu of their favorite restaurants. This delightful week was perhaps her most lucid week of that year. What a precious gift for a final visit with her.

That following November first, after a brief illness, she left us.

So, now when Mother’s Day (and since my Dad died in 2015 Father’s Day as well) comes around I look but no longer purchase cards to send.

The memories are precious but …

… the card remains unpurchased.

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