this is what i posted on facebook this mother's day:
Mama never cussed - at least not until she turned 95 and then evidently she saw reason to let one slip now and then. Mama never judged - never to my face although I'm sure she spoke her indomitable opinions to the mirror in the bathroom on countless occasions. Mama never told me she loved me - not out loud anyway, for her 1920s upbringing didn't see outward expression of affection necessary. But I knew, I knew she did. The cards with her jagged signature of "I Love You Mama" sit safety in boxes. So just in case I need a little push, a little strength of character, I go to the boxes, run my finger over the signature, and say "I love you, too." Happy mama's day, mama. I miss you and need you more with each passing day. Oh, by the way, my roses bloomed just in time for this day. You always said that was the true test of a good rose.
a kind woman, who i do not know, responded with wisdom beyond mine:
Judy, the dear ones of that era did not express love for fear the object of affection would be taken away. Your mama, my mama, they loved us too much to say it out loud. Now everybody says , "love you, bye," when they hang up the phone. Somehow the phrase doesn't mean the same as the signature of an elderly Mama who had lived long enough, without losing you, to be able, at last, to write "I love you," out loud.
how it is that she knows my mama? maybe because hers enveloped the same character, the same drive, the same conviction. and it's is true, the "love you, bye" flows from my mouth when i end conversation with my children, my husband. i will think of this more carefully next time.
it's been almost 5 years since i've heard mama's voice, heard the bellowed "aew" when she grabbed my knee, the shake of her head instead of a vocal reprimand, the touch of her beautiful wrinkled hands.
"i love you mama. bye."