Mother’s Day was one of my favorite holidays as a child.
I don’t remember if I made my Mom cute crafts or what kind of card I bought her at the store. What I do remember is this:
Every year we would go to the New Perry Hotel for lunch. Don’t let the name fool you. This place has been the “New” Perry Hotel since 1944. It had actually been in existence since 1894 under a different name, so I guess that’s where the “New” comes from. It is currently under renovation now, so maybe it will be re-opened as the “Newer Perry Hotel.” You gotta love the South ;-).
If you are not blessed enough to live in Georgia and be acquainted with this hotel, in its heyday it was the icon of southern charm and grace. The minute you walked up to its columned exterior you felt special. My Mom, my paternal Grandmother, and I would always get extra dressed up in anticipation of this special event. In fact, it was one of the few times of year I would see my grandmother in a dress and wearing her lovely old jewelry. My Dad always got them each a corsage as well.
In we would go to the fine carpeted and wallpapered rooms to enjoy our four course meal. If it was a good day, we would run into Sam Nunn taking his mom out to lunch. It was like southern magic.
All the food was delicious from the fried chicken to the banana pudding for dessert (not as good as my Grandma’s of course, but delicious). However, my favorite part by far was the little round crunchy bread/crouton like things that came with the chicken soup course. They were like tiny hard round biscuits. I’ve never seen anything like them before or since. Sometimes I ate those almost as a meal unto themselves.
After dinner we would stroll around the gardens and take pictures in front of whatever bush was in bloom.
When we were all done, we would shift over to the New Perry Nursing Home (I’m not making this up, that’s really what it was called). Though the New Perry Nursing home lacked carpet and wallpaper, it held in its walls my maternal grandmother, who was more important to me than even Sam Nunn (if you don’t know who Sam Nunn is and why I love him, here you go).
We would all visit with my declining, dementia affected Grandmother and celebrate the gift she was to us.
Then, if it was a pretty day and we still had energy we would head over to the Perry Cemetery (they left the “New” off of this one, I guess with it being a place for the dead and all) and visit the grave of my great-grandmother (my Grandad’s mom) and other such relatives.
When I was a child I just remember this day feeling so special. It felt special to be a girl who would one day be a mom and wear a beautiful corsage. It felt special to take my Mom and Grandma out to lunch so Grandma didn’t have to cook and Mom didn’t have to clean up after. It felt special to be surrounded by all the roots of my family. To see even those roots that lay deep down in the ground. I knew who I was, who I belonged to, and to some degree who I would be.
We have no yearly tradition for Mother’s Day now. I realize I ache for it, whatever it may be. Not just to celebrate me, but to celebrate who we all are together. For I am not enough. And just to celebrate my momhood or my mother’s momhood or my mother-in-law’s or my sister-in-law’s is too tenuous.
What happens when God forbid one of them gets sick and can’t live on their own anymore? I never considered what it must have been like for my mom to see her own mother each year in a nursing home looking worse than the year before. I never considered what it must have been like for my Grandmother to look at the graves of her in-laws and miss her own mom and kin.
No, our lives individually are too fleeting. What we must celebrate is the tree we have all made together. A tree that now spreads as far as China to hold our family’s kin. All we can do is stand in front of this tree and take a snapshot of its beautiful blooms, enjoying what we and God together have made.