Mom and Me

It’s near the end of Mother’s Day 2021, but I couldn’t let this day pass without paying tribute to Helen Johnson, my resilient mother. Today, as I puttered in the garden–a universal place she loved–and planted impatiens in a shady spot under the eaves of my Scottsdale home, I channeled memories of her. Here’s a little story about the two of us.

***

Mom was 74 and I was 40 on Mother’s Day 1998. This is one of my favorite photos of us, standing outside her south suburban St. Louis home that day twenty-three years ago. It captures the essence of the lifelong bond and love between us. As her edges softened in her seventies and eighties and my appreciation for her vulnerabilities, strengths, and wisdom grew in my forties and fifties, our relationship deepened.

What I’ve learned since her death in 2013 (and my father’s in 1993) is that our relationships with our parents don’t end when they die. They evolve. We carry bittersweet and tender memories of them with us everywhere (in my case from North Carolina and Missouri to Illinois and Arizona).

I no longer think of my mother every day, but her gifts are part of the fabric of my life in the Sonoran Desert (a place she never visited) in a far less obvious way than they were back in St. Louis in 1998. For that reason, she appears in all four of my books. Sometimes as true reflections of the person she was; other times in fictional flights of fancy.

As long as I’m around, I will carry with me her love of gardening, impatience with ineptitude, kindness for neighbors, thirst for knowledge, respect for the written word, and commitment to family. In good times and bad, I am forever grateful for the legacy of love my mother left me and the path she provided to follow with my two sons.

Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers, who work each day to make a positive difference in the lives of their children.

8 thoughts on “Mom and Me

  1. This morning, as a small group of friends, together for the first time since all adults were fully vaccinated, celebrated the one mother in our midst (Theo’s, ) we toasted the mothers each of us missed: Mary, Donna, Jean & Lois, and acknowledged the collective loss of each of our mothers leaving us too soon. At the same time we recognized the joy in the fact that we each had mothers we wished were still here to share the fruits of their labors-us as their grown children & and the lives we are currently living. We embraced their memory and each other.
    Thank you Mark for your reflections and encouraging us to have our own.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Always enjoy reading about you and the beautiful relationship you had with your mother.

    On Sun, May 9, 2021 at 7:07 PM Mark Johnson Stories wrote:

    > Mark Johnson posted: ” It’s near the end of Mother’s Day 2021, but I > couldn’t let this day pass without paying tribute to Helen Johnson, my > resilient mother. Today, as I puttered in the garden–a universal place she > loved–and planted impatiens in a shady spot under the eaves ” >

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a wonderful contribution to you mother, Mark 🙂 This year Mother’s Day arrived in Ireland on Sunday, March 14, unlike the American Mother’s Day, which is held in May, but as we are from Latvia, we tend to celebrate it on the first Sunday of May, too. Thanks for sharing and have a good day. Aiva 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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