As I pass the display of Mother's Day cards in the store, I try not to look, not to get caught up in the sadness of not being able to buy a card for my mother.
It's been a bit more than five years since my mother passed away and even longer since I was able to telephone her several times a week.
Yet, even with the passing years, I still find myself wanting to rush to the telephone to call her when I want to share a good piece of news.
Or, I find myself wrestling with a family problem and think to myself, "I'll call my mother and get her input. She's always good at knowing the right thing to do."
Temporarily, I forget I can no longer do that. I forget I can no longer have the benefit of her wisdom and I can no longer have the encouragement she was always quick to give me.
When a mother passes away, it creates a void that nothing else fills.
Coincidentally, a few weeks ago I received the nicest email from a woman who was writing to comment on a column of mine. She happened to mention her mother passed away six years ago, the same time mine did.
"But unlike you, I never got over the sadness of not having my mother with me," she wrote.
Hey, no one ever gets over the loss of a mother, I told her. We go on with our lives and we enjoy what each day and each year brings. But no matter how long it's been since a mother's death, we go on missing her.
In so many ways, a mother is the glue that holds a family together. Adult kids "go home" for holidays to be with Mom. As a result, siblings stay close. At least that's the way it is in many families.
When my mother died, my brother and sister and I all clung to each other, promising we would always be there for each other. We would stay close, we vowed.
But our contact now is mostly via telephone since we are scattered geographically. And it's just not the same as being there in the same house.
Easter was always "my holiday," the one time of year when family on both sides gathered at my house. I enjoyed creating a feast.
Eating, in our Italian heritage, was always so much more than enjoying food. The best part to a meal was sitting around the table, telling stories, sharing lives and laughing a lot as we simply enjoyed being together.
I now have what many consider enviable holidays. Here in Florida we always have perfect weather and my only "job", so to speak, is having fun.
This Easter my husband told me not to cook. "I don't want you working hard on a holiday," he said. There's nothing hard about putting a ham in the oven, I told him.
While I was getting it ready, I kept thinking about past Easters with my Mom and family. Just then the phone rang. It was my sister, Cindy. I'm sure she, too, was missing those big family feasts. She, too, was missing Mom.
I have a friend who has six siblings who were always as close as puppies in a litter. They all spent every holiday at their mother's, with each adult bringing a dish. I always loved the joy and the noise in that house when they all got together.
When their mother passed away, the sisters said they would take turns hosting family gatherings. It worked for a while then the tradition ended. Mom wasn't there to hold the family together.
I cope with Mother's Day and Father's Day by trying to do something nice for an elderly person. I can't do it for my parents but I can do it for someone else in my parents' honor.
But I can no longer stop at the card shop to find the perfect sentiment to give my mother. I can no longer hear her say the same thing she did when she opened every gift: "Oh, you shouldn't have."
If you're lucky enough to still have your parents, I hope you take the time to visit and tell Mom how special she is.
There will be far too many years when you regret that you can no longer do it.