Mom's Day mix of mourning, celebrating this year

Charlie Harley stopped in Monday to let us know about the Armistice Day celebration in Burr Ridge May 15 — at which he will receive the Jack Schaus Patriot Award.

I told him I wished I could come, but we are having a small memorial service for my mom, who died in November.

“Of course you have to go to that,” Charlie said. “After all, you only ever have one mother.”

“Well,” I responded. “I’ve got an interesting story for you.”

And so I told him about being adopted and taking a DNA test and finding my birth mother in October (and my birth father and half-sister).

He’s not the first person who has teared up listening to my story. I can get pretty emotional about it, myself.

And I imagine Sunday is going to be a pretty emotional day.

This will be the first Mother’s Day that the mother I have always known is no longer part of my life and the mother I have

never met is.

I remember the first Father’s Day after my dad died in 2002. It was not an easy one, and I’m feeling some trepidation as Sunday approaches.

My mother-in-law has been missing from our Mom’s Day celebrations since she passed away in 2017. And Mom was missing last year, too, due to the pandemic. But we were able to write a huge Mother’s Day message in chalk in the parking lot outside her window at her assisted living facility.

This year, we remembered her Sunday by participating in the Walk for Wellness at Wellness House in her honor. And next Saturday — two days after her May 13 birthday — we will hold the small memorial service we weren’t able to have in the fall.

I’ll enjoy celebrating with Ainsley on Sunday and hearing her sing with the youth choir at church. I know I will spend some time on Zoom with my birth mother, Pat. I imagine that will be an poignant conversation for both of us.

Here’s what I wrote about her in a Mother’s Day column for The Doings in 2000 — long before I ever dreamt of meeting her.

“I know there’s another woman out there who is a part of me. I know she was 17 years old and unmarried when I was born in 1967. I know, because of a mistake in the records my parents were sent, that she had given me a name before she gave me up in the hopes of finding a better home for me than she could provide. I know my mother cried when she learned the adoption agency had lied and told her I had not been named.”

I know a little more about the story now, including the fact that my mom didn’t need to cry about my name. She honored my birth mother without even knowing she was doing so. Only five letters separate Pamela Jane and Patricia Jane.

Pat and I have talked about how to fit all the pieces together, now that I have so many new relatives. A retired teacher, she reminded me of something she observed from her students. Families come in all shapes and sizes.

“I used to believe that Mother’s Day was just about moms — my mom, Dan’s mom, my grandma before she died,” I wrote in 2009, just after Ainsley was born. “But now that I am a mom, it seems Mother’s Day is really about families.”

So this Mother’s Day, I will celebrate the new relatives in my life — which also include aunts and uncles and cousins. And I will celebrate the relatives I have known all my life.

We are all family. And family is what Mother’s Day is all about.

— Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean. Readers can email her at [email protected].

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean