I've often been asked if it gets lonely being single, and most times I emphatically respond with a clear and distinct "NO." For much of my life I feel I've been able to comfortablly navigate my single status around major life events without too much trauma or self consciousness on showing up alone to weddings or special holidays without a "+1." Recently, however, I have been feeling a bit at a loss around how I choose to experience "Mother's Day" as my mom had passed away 3 years ago, and being single without children has basically turned the day into one of remembering vs. celebrating.
Having been raised by a single mother of 3 who also took care of not only us kids, but her parents (my grandparents) at the same time, I can definitely call my mom a SUPERWOMAN. I was blessed to have her take on that role well before it became a well established honorific. My mom was a true Superwoman whose life mirrored those of both the women that took care of their family while also "bringing home the bacon" in the proverbial as well as literal sense. Of course she didn't have time to bake us cookies or make us school lunches because she was busy running not only one, but two businesses. One of choice, a mortuary, and another out of obligation, my grandfather's accounting firm. While at times I hungered for those motherly acts, as I got older I realized how much she did give us by being the kind of person she was and how she faced the hard times that life often dealt her.
As we sheltered in place these last few months I can't help but wonder how my mom would have experienced this time during her active years. My mom was a depression era baby so hardship and economic adversity were no strangers but rather common companions in her childhood and young adulthood. World War II and food shortages were something that was as normal as taking a daily walk, along with her chores of feeding chickens and working at the pineapple cannery while going to college. She never took a real vacation and always found a way to help others no matter how much she needed help herself.
When I think about everything going on now with the uncertainty about COVID-19 and what will happen to us I can't help but feel my mom's presence and her knowing that our ability to survive and come out of this is undeniable as the force of gravity. Having gone through a depression where there was not enough food and a war that not only took lives but threatened everything your family worked for as a Japanese-American in the 1940s, is something that helps me transcend what seems to be so much meaningless suffering in the world today. Pain, loss, death and suffering are constant no matter where you live, or what moment your life chooses to inhabit this world. My mother left me with the most priceless gifts of resiliency, faith and fortitude even in moments of great crisis. I know I"ve been blessed by her spirit and her faith in forging ahead no matter how dark the future looks, and I'm grateful to have had a mother like her lead me through this event. Even now I can see her staring down the future with a steely determination that if we just keep on putting one foot in front of the other we will get to better days ahead and emerge a hell of a lot stronger that where we came from. Thank you MOM for your spirit, the world and our family deeply miss you and your indomitable spirit, and Happy Mother's Day.