Nancy Giles: Mother's Day without a mother

(CBS News) You don't have to be a Mom yourself to appreciate what mothers do . . . or to feel the loss of a mother when that time comes. Here's our contributor Nancy Giles:

My mother died almost fourteen years ago, so Mother's Day doesn't exactly make me warm and fuzzy inside. It makes me sad, and a little cranky.

To me, it's a big, showy, cards-and-flowers, home appliance sale. Ick.

And in the lead-up to Mother's Day, it seems like every cell phone conversation I "overhear" is someone being snippy to their mother. (I'm tempted to lean in and say, "You're lucky you still have a mother," but I know how that would go over, so I zip it.)

But I miss talking to my Mom on the phone, and on Mother's Day I really feel that.

I loved talking to her, especially when I just wanted to whine. She'd let me whimper and then came that sage "Mom" advice: "You work too hard . . . You do too much . . . Get some rest and stay PUT!" which was exactly what I wanted to hear.

Mom died of ovarian cancer. She was an artist and a teacher, and one day at the hospital, I surprised her with an old sketch of hers that I had framed. She was thrilled, and an idea was born . . . a combination exhibit/celebration of her life and work. It took a few months to organize everything, but Mom was energized: choosing pieces of art to display, and full of stories from 50 years worth of portfolios.

The gallery opening was overflowing with family, friends, former students - and at the center of it all was my mom, drinking it in. She was happy.

She died six weeks later.

As my good friend Sharon told me, "You never get over it . . . you just get through it. And then it's part of who you are." Boy, was she right.

I'm sure there are lots of other people who feel a little empty like I do, and on Mother's Day, where do we fit in? I nurture people. I'm a great aunt, and a great great-aunt. I do volunteer work with kids - got the "Mom mojo" working. Don't I get a pencil holder, at least?

Actually, last year I did get a card from my brother-in-law, one of those old-fashioned swirly script Mother's Day cards. And inside, were two paw prints - one from my dog George, and a tiny one from Bosco, my cat. My very first Mother's Day card!

So, however snippy you've been feeling lately - and however dopey those cards may seem - take a minute to send one to your mom (or mom surrogate), or make a call.

And Mom, I'm sending you a Happy Mother's Day wish right now - air mail special delivery.

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